Thursday, July 17, 2014


I am aware other Mavens have shared their storage ideas and each has been valuable in their own right. Every beader is always looking for ways to store their 'stash' and I wanted to share an idea I have had for a long time and only recently put into place.

I had been to a Bead Show in Sydney in April and bought lots of new colour seed beads. In May I travelled to the US to attend the Bead & Button Show and came home with 4.5kgs (10lbs) of seed beads in my bag, not to mention other types of beads I had bought.  

I usually stored my size 11 seed bead tubes in small drawers in colour tones i.e. greens and blues together, reds, oranges and yellows together etc. BUT with all my new stash the drawers were too small.

I needed to find a new way of storing all these tubes of seed beads. I tried a couple of things, like laying them in boxes - no, not happy with that -  then I stood them on their ends with rubber bands around them, didn't like either. 

I began to think I wanted to see the colours so that I knew what I had. It was a comment and a picture from Barbara Briggs on Facebook showing me how she stored the tubes on their lids so she could see the colour from the bottom of the tube. That was when I remembered an idea I had had ages ago.

Store them in PVC pipes in their colour hues. What a great idea!!

Off I rushed to the local hardware store and bought three lengths of 90mm diameter x 1 metre long PVC pipes. I also purchased a miter box to get a correct cut. I borrowed a mates hacksaw and away I went. Cutting, cutting, cutting. The pipes also needed sandpaper to remove any rough edges after the cuts. All cost about $25.00 and pretty quick and pretty easy to do. 
The PVC pipes come in various sizes from 125mm down to 65mm diameter so I am sure there is one that would suit your needs.

I then sat them on my worktable and placed in the seed bead tubes. Don’t they look pretty I thought! I was happy with this.

Problem #1 – you needed ‘book ends’ so the pipes didn’t roll. I had to place other storage
drawers at either end of the pipe display.
Problem#2 – if I wanted to lift up a ‘book end’ the pipes would roll again!
It was suggested to glue the pipes together but I didn't want anything that big to be permanent. I wanted the option to lift and move and reduce the quantity of pipes if I choose.

I felt I needed a wedge on the pipes, or a pigeon hole kind of set up or something permanent to hold it all in place!

I decided to check out Ikea and see what kind of shelving they had to accommodate these pipes. It couldn’t be too deep as I wanted to sit it on my worktable and didn't want to lose workspace. I discovered that DVD and CD furniture fitted the bill and here is a link to the exact one I purchased.

Off I went and paid $50.00 for the shelves. Came home, put it together, placed it on my worktable and put in the pipes with the colours. Great, it all fitted, it works and looks good.

Problem #3 – I had cut the pipes 165mm long thinking that would be a good idea. Seed bead tubes are generally 150mm long. When I placed my tubes in the pipes they recessed into the pipe too much and made it difficult to lift out - not happy with that. I had to re-cut all of them again. This time I wanted the seed bead tubes to stick out just a little for easy removal. The new lengths are 142mm long and you get 7 lengths from a 1 metre pipe after six cuts. Terrific, more for my money - YAY!

The image to the right shows both 165mm length on the bottom and 140mm length on the top - you decide which you prefer.

Problem #4 – if you are not careful when extracting the seed bead tube you may pull the end cap off as they rub up against the other tube caps. I learnt that pretty quickly. However, only a small number of seeds fell out as they are laying flat and only the seeds at the end of the tube fell out so no BIG problem, just a little one. 

I have now been living with this system for almost a week and I absolutely Love it!  

Benefit #1Having the tubes jutting outside of the pipes a little makes it easier to handle. I found when removing a tube lift it up to the top first then lift it out, no pulling happens on the end cap and no seed bead spillage.  YAY! 
Benefit #2 - As I am working on a design I can see all my colours, which helps me decide which colour will work with what I am making. Being stored and hidden in a drawer you don’t get that immediate association.
Benefit #3 - they are within arm's reach of my workspace. Love being able to reach for them and not search for them.
Benefit #4 - I now have heaps of room for growth, more seed bead tubes to acquire. YAY!
Benefit #5 - The whole set-up looks good and has become part of the beading 'decor'. My beading space is set up in my dining room - or dining studio I call it LOL - when I have people over for dinner they like seeing my space and now it looks attractive as well.

So all in all it has been an easy exercise to undertake with a lot of benefits. 
I hope my sharing this method gives you some ideas and helps you with your bead storage.


  1. Entertaining and informative!!! Hope you have space left for your stash next trip ;)

  2. Fabulous idea. Thanks for sharing patrick. xxx

  3. I find that I have seed beads in all different types of containers. Baggies, rectangular tubes, short tubes, etc. Any tips for those?

    1. get uniformity, place the seeds in tubes, you will be glad you did.

  4. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

    Anonymous - regarding the container question - I 'bit the bullet' several months ago and bought a large lot of plastic test tubes that I found on Amazon for not a lot of money. Look in the Industrial & Scientific section. I got both short and long tubes and moved every seed bead that was not already in a tube.

  5. I searched on the USA Ikea site to find the same product number - check the price in US$. In the USA, the product number is: 402.216.55 and price is $40....good deal! Also available in brown & black. The shelving is made of particle board and can be wiped clean. Thanks for the lead Patrick! Jeanne Evans

    1. You are welcome Jeanne, we have a lot of people complaining that the same item overseas is cheaper than here and silly Ikea said it is because of shipping. Well that bought them undone as a lot of what they ship comes from Indonesia, which is close to Australia. Ikea have been modifying their prices, but still you show it hasn't fully happened ye. I uses it is the USA's fifteen times our population that accounts for the lower prices. LOL. I am glad you got something out of this post.

  6. What about keeping matching 8/11/15 sizes of the same color together? I have gold, silver, hematite, bronze, and copper that I want to keep together.

    1. i don't like that idea Mary as it confuses me when I see a lot of tubes the same colour, I think I have plenty but I may have plenty in 15s and 8s but not enough 11s. I work mostly in 11s and hate running out, there aren't any local bead shops that sell seed beads here. All come in my internet buying.
      I keep my 15s collection in a large drawer and right beside where i sit so I just open the drawer and look for a colour.
      My 8s I don't use a lot but I have to get out of my seat to go get 8s. My shelving unit could be converted to make a place for the 8s but like I said i don't use them much.

  7. Love your idea. But I needed both have them sorted by number and color... it is always hard work when I buy new colors because I have to make my little squares but it works best for me. I am living in a small flat with no working desk so everything has to be storaged properly.

  8. Thank you for the great idea Patrick. I think a table top wine rack would be another way to display the tubes. Happy Beading!