Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to organize your bead collection

Hello there!  Thank you for stopping by.  I've been working on this post for a couple days now, and I want it to be a comprehensive look at how I organize my bead collection.  I know there are a lot of people out there who are just like me and have lots of beads.  I've created this system and it works very well for me.  This post is photo heavy with a lot of tips and hints.  If you like what you see here feel free to share with other friends who are beaders!

Let's start with a run through of what my collection actually consists of.  Here's a run through of what each of my trays contains:

Since I am a man who beads I use a lot of neutrals in my designs.  I have 2 full trays of wooden beads and other things I consider neutrals.  I recently adopted a new tray and will call it "gold variations" so some of these beads will have a new home in the near future.

I keep a full tray of unfinished projects.  I often catch myself getting frustrated with a project, and if I walk away from it and come back to it later it's better for all parties involved.

Since I am an OSU Buckeye through and through, I have an entire tray of Scarlet & Grey beads.  If you look closely you can see my lucky buckeye!

I have a love / hate relationship with seed beads.  I use them to finish necklaces for 2 reasons: they feel good on a persons neck and they are less expensive than some other beads.  I have big hands, so stringing them can be a challenge.

I keep all my odds and ends I need here: crimps, needles, hooks, clasps, closures, bead stops, crimp covers, etc.  I have them compartmentalized by hue for easy access.  I stock up when they go on sale at Hobby Lobby.

What started my collection was a big tub of glass beads from my friend Michelle.  I still have some of those beads here along with other colored glass beads.

My newest addition: gold tones.  I had gold beads running over into all my other trays, so these beads finally got promoted to their own tray.

I like to use bright colors quiet a bit, and this tray balances out my 2 trays of neutrals.  This one makes me really happy!

Let's get down to business.  

I use these trays to store my beads for several reasons:
  • they lock down tightly and I can store them on their side
  • the compartments are not adjustable (yes, this is a pro and not a con)
  • they fit perfectly into the bin I carry them in
  • they often go on sale so buying another one isn't a huge investment ($3 regular priced isn't bad either)
  • the tiny feet on the bottom and the grooves on the top mean they lock together easily 
  • they hold a lot of beads 

There are many more options out there, but these little trays work very well for me. Since I am always moving these days (or so it seems!) I am able to safely travel with these bead containers without worrying too much about spilling.  If you haven't caught on yet I'm a little obsessive about how I store and organize my beads, and this is just a small glimpse inside the mind of a crazy person.

Box it up.

When I started really collecting beads I had a couple of these trays.  I had gone through some different options and had decided I really wanted to stick with them.  One day I was in Hobby Lobby (life is good!) when I noticed that the trays were on sale.  I grabbed one and walked over to the storage/box/basket section of the store, and what do you know a box that the tray fit in perfectly was also on sale.  I left that day with the box and a few bead trays and I've never looked back.

I have labeled each tray on the right side of the front near the latch so I can quickly reference which beads are in which tray.  This makes life easier since I don't need to open all my trays if I only need specific beads. 

I love this box because it holds the trays perfectly, it has sturdy handles, it can take a beating since it's really just fabric with structural supports and because when I have it tucked away on a shelf no one would ever know what was inside.  The last I need is for people to have confirmation that I'm a crazy bead collector (eh, hoarder?) and then they will judge me.  Hard.

See those handles!  Man they're nice.  Also ignore the floral sheets.  Those you can blame on my mother.  

This new tray I got for Christmas from my Grandma fits perfectly onto of my trays of beads in my basket.  Everything is coming up Logan today!  I've never used one of these before, but I know it will make like a lot easier.  I go about making necklaces all wrong these days, so I'm excited to see how this changes my process.  (Thanks for the gift, Grandma!)

Even the best fall down sometimes.

I also have this container.  I want you to know that this is like opening pandoras box to me (literally) and I can't believe I'm going to do it.  It's like airing all my dirty laundry for the world to see, but even though most of my beads are organized very nicely, this box will never be as pristine as the others.

It doesn't look so bad, right?
Well here it all is splayed out for the world to see.  I have yet to figure out a way to store my cord (I use elastic and wire, so I have multiple coils of each) and my tools.  So I just keep them in this box. 

See the spoon there?  Well I carry that around with me so when I decide to change around which tray beads are in (ie. moving the gold beads) I use this spoon to scoop them all out.  It makes like so much easier. 

I also have some extra beads I'm just not in love with anymore in this box.  I'm hoping one day they'll strike me again and I'll make room for them.

So... that's it!  I like to have things in their place because this hobby can get really messy really fast!  I'd love to hear about how you store and collect your beads.  Leave me a comment with some of your tips!

Be well,