Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Philosophy of Bead Organization, Again, With Sources

More answers for Aleta, she asked if I separated my beads by type, or color.

Two main divisions, of course, are seed beads and not-seed-beads.   Seed beads go in flip-top containers I buy from Dee's Beads. These are then stored by size in project cases from Stacks & Stacks.  I can get a lot of those containers, of various sizes, into the project cases in one layer. But I still just had to divide my size 11/0 round seed beads into two project cases, as I had too many to stay in a single layer in one. So now one is yellows, greens, oranges and clear/metallic, the other is the darker colors.   I have one single container for bugles, triangles, drop beads and other oddities, and one apiece for 8/0 rounds, and 15/0 round beads.

Then all my not-seed-beads go into small plastic boxes, as seen here, inside the storage drawers from Stacks & Stacks.  These are all by color, except of course, there are a few things that just don't fit into the normal categories. 

The small plastic boxes come packaged inside larger, 6" x 9" x 2" boxes from Harbor Freight. In the stores, they also sell boxes filled with the double-size mini-boxes, but it doesn't seem like they do on the website. A small box is 1 7/8" square, and will hold hundreds of small beads or about 50 6mm beads. The larger mini-box will hold a strand of fairly large beads, anything smaller than 1" fits fine. A few strands I have are far too large for these boxes, I leave them in the plastic bags they come in. Not many, though. If I unstring the larger beads, they fit in the boxes very well. 

I have a special drawer for cabochons, and another for what I call "special beads." Those include the large metal beads, vintage pieces, and very expensive beads that I want front and center when I'm considering the focal bead for my next piece.   The "miscellaneous" drawer also offers quite a bit of inspiration. I found some tumbled sea glass bits designed for filling vases at Bed, Bath and Beyond that I think would work into something nice. 

The numbers you see on the small boxes in the drawers refer to my inventory software, which assigns the numbers that I apply with my labeler.  That way, when I count the beads used in the finished piece, I know how much the piece cost me in materials. Labor, now that's another story. Does any artist really get paid a good rate for their time? Other than, say a stripper?

Okay, back to Aleta's comments. Ahem. She said she has her seed beads in tubes. Most of mine are originally in tubes but I transfer them all to the flip-tops, as I said. With tubes, I find, as they accumulate, unless you have something like a tube-holder, they tend to lie on top of one another and hide what's below. And that bothers me no end. The thought that the very color I'm seeking is hiding from me. I have unexpected quirks that this organizational effort is revealing to me. The flat-sided flip-tops I use let me line everything up next to each other. No color shall hide! All will be revealed!!  Even those bead pavilion things, though, hide the colors of the tubes on the inside. 

Now I'm still searching for some kind of rack that will contain those project cases, each in it's own slot. That will make it much easier for me to extract the one single case I need to peruse. Right now it seems like they're always stacked up with the one I want at the bottom. How does that work? Why is it always at the bottom?  Seems like random chance alone would put it on the top sometimes, doesn't it?

I can organize beads. I can make jewelry and art pieces. Now, can I sell them? That's the next logical step, isn't it?


  1. Nice to be able to have such nice storage boxes, I have two hatches with some shelves to store my beads, some are in specific bead containers but most are in bags since they compact better. I have the bags separated into seed beads, gem stones, pearls, glass beads, crystals, etc. But I have to haul the bags out to select color and size.

  2. I have just started reorganizing my stash and I used to use what ever containers I could find now I purchasing these really neat containers from walmart they are plastic and sturdy, I can see at a glance what I need to still enter into beadencounter. hehe!

  3. Great idea, two organizing principles reinforcing each other! :)