Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips on Organization From a Disorganized Beader

Sometimes when I try and think of things to write about I wonder what people will think because, what do I know? I'm relatively new to this bead weaving thing and many of you reading this will have years, even decades more experience than I.   But, as with my own blog, I try to remember that there are lots of people out there beginning beading, or beginning to sell their beading and struggling with the same hurdles I have over the last couple of years.  Encouraged by this thought I decided to write about organization....and anyone looking in my studio right now would definitely say "she's not qualified to do that!" But as I have spent the weekend organizing my beads I thought I'd share some things that help me.

Bead Storage
These nifty little wheels are the perfect packaging for a lot of my kits but I also use them to store my 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm Swarovskis, crystals and pearls. They come in packs of two...a large one and a small one, both with 13 compartments from FMG.  For travelling these are indispensible! I write the code for the bead on the side of the wheel...they take a fine point Sharpie very well.
I also have some clear plastic thin trays with dividers for the rest of my Swarovskis.

My Delicas live in tubes in Bead Towers, each has it's identifying number plus what I paid per gram for the beads. This saves a ton of time when you're trying to price a finished piece or kit. I also created a chart to tell me how many beads are in a gram....starting at 0.25g and going up in 0.25g increments up to 15 grams, as I tend to know how many beads rather than the weight. When I pack kits or give amounts in instructions I round up to the next 0.25g...if it's just a few beads shy of the next increment I go up two.  My larger packs of Delicas have their own box.

For my seed beads, by far the largest part of my bead collection, I try to keep one tube of each color on display in these trays , I have a few of them.
The rest get packed away in boxes and storage containers ready for refilling and the tubes get a sticker when I'm getting low on a specific color.
Again these are all marked with what I paid per gram.

I also use the same flip-top boxes as my fellow Maven, Linda....mostly because Kandra of Kandra's Beads packs some of her seed beads in them...but as Linda says they store a lot in a little space.

The rest of my bead collection is stored in storage boxes which are marked for what they contain, eg. "Fire-polished, Pearls, etc."
To keep my Fireline in check I have one of these neat little fishing line spool storage boxes. It holds the large spools (125yds) of Fireline and if you add a dowel  (there's a place for it) it also keeps all the smaller (50yd) spools in check too.
I label the holes with the weight of the Fireline coming through it. Look for it in the fishing section of your local Walmart or K-mart. If you want to measure how much Fireline or any other thread you are using you can buy a fishing line counter and run your thread through it...especially good if you pack thread for kits.

For travelling I have one of these fabulous Train Cases. Mine has three top drawers on each side which I use for projects and beads and then a deep bottom for my finished 'show & tell' pieces. They are in stores now as they make great Christmas gifts, I believe I got mine at Walmart.

Reading this back it makes me look really organized, and when I take the time to put things away after each project before starting the next....I am. However....the creative mind does not always like to clear up after itself before rushing into the next project so my studio constantly looks like a bomb hit it. Morganna my muse is da bomb!

I hope you will find something here to help you organize and that your organization lasts longer than mine.


  1. Great timing on this blog Mikki! I am reorganizing my beading room, going from a hobby space to one that will work well for running a business from. I'll take a picture when it's done, it may be a one time thing :). I don't know how you do it, but you always manage to blog about things I need to learn! Don't doubt yourself!

  2. So useful, Mikki. I don't think there is a beader out there who doesn't look for new and efficient ways to contain the sprawl of supplies. Got some great ideas from this entry. Now, please send a backhoe and my studio will be in order!

  3. Wonderful post, Mikki - and some of your organizational items are things I hadn't thought of. I wish I had enough Fireline to fit into one of the spool holders!! At the moment I only have two large spools of what I use for everything....I need to go shopping...wow! Thanks!! Now I have an excuse!!

  4. I love those flip-top containers - as you said, they are great for storing a lot in a small space!

  5. Thanks guys. Sandy...maybe I'm picking up your vibes...lol! Nancy...I buy the 50yd spools of Fireline in bulk when there's a good discount coupon...it also means I usually have a spool or two on hand for my students as you can't buy the 4lb locally.

  6. Just received an order from Createforless.com. Flip top containers 24 per box and I paid about 16 cents apiece. Can't find them locally anymore. I use them to store my 4mm fire polished and most of my findings (bead caps, jump rings, spacers, etc.

  7. Thanks Mikki, now I just hafta have a train case!!!