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How to Organize Beads: 35 Bead Storage Tips and Tricks

Learn how to organize your beads with this bead storage guide!

By: Kelly Spence, Editor, allfreejewelrymaking.com
How to Organize Beads 33 Bead Storage Tips and Tricks
How to Organize Beads 33 Bead Storage Tips and Tricks
This image courtesy of AllFreeJewelryMaking.com

If you are a fan of making your own beaded jewelry, chances are you have a collection of beads stored somewhere at home that could potentially earn you the title of "bead hoarder."

Once you begin dabbling in DIY jewelry design, you inevitably start collecting beads and jewelry supplies here and there, storing them in random boxes, jars, and bags, until you've built a veritable jewelry-making mountain that could topple over at any moment into a craft avalanche!

Don't let your burgeoning bead stash get the best of you. Get organized with this handy collection of tips for storing beads!

We asked our trusty Facebook fans and Bling Buzz readers for their best tips and tricks for keeping their own bead collections in check, and they certainly delivered. Plus, even if you are organized, these tips can still help you reach your full bead organization potential!

From creative containers to use, to ideas for organizing beads by color and type, our fans had plenty of brilliant suggestions to share. Here's some awesome advice from beaders, for beaders, on keeping your beading supplies organized.







 

How to Organize Beads

Bead Organization Tips and Tricks

  1. Store beads in fishing tackle boxes. When you open them up, everything is visible.

  2. Use stackable containers with dividers. Keep all the pearls in one, the crystals in another, the metals, etc. Check out this Bleak to Chic Jewelry Organizer to get an idea of this!

  3. Create a two-step system: Organize first by color, then by size. This will make it easier to find what you are looking for.

  4. Always store beads in clear containers so you can see what's inside without having to open them. No matter how well you label them, you'll forget what you put in them!

  5. Make sure your containers have a lock of some sort to keep the box closed and prevent spills.

  6. Make sure the dividers extend all the way to the lid of the box; otherwise beads can slide from one compartment to another if you turn the box.

  7. Use glass test tubes and test tube holders. You can find them in thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, etc. You can also get them free from The Freecycle Network.

  8. Store beads in empty pill bottles.

  9. Organize small amounts of beads in ice cube trays.

  10. For travel, store beads in weekly or monthly pill boxes. They have locks and are great for organizing by color and type. These also work well for storing small findings (clasps, crimps, jump rings, etc.).

  11. Store beads in glass bottles or clear salt and pepper shakers; then organize the bottles or shakers in a coffee carousel tower (like those offered by Keurig or Tassimo).

  12. Store beads in inexpensive plastic spice jars. The shaker top releases just a few beads at a time.

  13. For items of which you only have a few remaining, you can find tiny clear, plastic containers (1- or 2-inch size) at the dollar store. Then store the tiny plastic containers all within a large clear plastic box or container (1- to 2-foot size). Store the small containers upside-down inside the larger container.

  14. Store containers in a plastic rolling drawer cart. Keep tools in one drawer and beads in the others. Use book ends to store jewelry project books on top.

  15. Hang your bead containers on the wall; it might help your creativity if you can see everything! Try out this Magnetic Bead Storage Organizer to hang on your wall.

  16. Keep a crafter's vacuum handy (in case of spills)!

  17. Use Craftmates locking plastic containers.

  18. Use Plano tackle boxes (half the price of buying from the craft department!) and organize beads by type, then color, then size. They are clear containers and easy to divide.

  19. Use plastic 1.75-quart ice-cream containers. Keep one for Delicas, one for regular seed beads, etc.

  20. Store beads in empty plastic cookie containers; keep different types and colors in separate cookie sleeves.

  21. Buy small condiment containers, available at Walmart with 50 cents per bag. Organize beads by color, size, and shape.

  22. Paint the sides of an old shelf with chalkboard paint. Organize your bead containers on the shelf and write on the side what is stored on each shelf. This helps keep your work table or desk from getting too cluttered.

  23. Use a mechanic's tool chest to store beads and findings. Tape the bead information from the supplier (price, product code, etc.) to the bottom of each space; then group them in the chest by color and type (gem, crystal, glass, acrylic, etc.), labeling the color on the outside of the drawer.

  24. Hummus containers have a wide mouth and are convenient for storing up to three different kinds of beads in the same container. They are easy to separate and have a nice lid.

  25. Buy small salsa containers with lids. They are very cheap at Walmart; you can get 200 for less than $3.00.

  26. Use the acrylic 1 x 2 x 1.5-inch boxes with lids from the container store. These allow you to take out just the beads you are using without the remaining beads moving into other beads' space. 

  27. Store beads in empty Tic Tac containers.

  28. Organize bead containers in marked shoe boxes.

  29. Store large beads in a nuts-and-bolts box from the hardware store.

  30. Organize beads by "holiday" or project (e.g., store orange and black beads together with Halloween/fall beads, pumpkin charms, spider pendants, etc.).

  31. Put each strand of beads in a small Ziploc bag and label it with all of the bead information. Organize small bags in color-coded gallon Ziploc bags so you can easily see all beads of the same color when planning a project.

  32. Store tools in a Caboodle makeup case.

  33. Use plastic photo boxes for works in progress.

  34. Store your beads in small lipgloss containers. Since they are clear, it is easy to see what beads are in each container.

  35. BONUS TIP: Because pearl beads are especially delicate, you need to take extra steps to keep them in pristine condition.They have natural moisture, so they need to stay hydrated. Unlike most beads, you don't want to store pearl beads in a dry, airtight container. Keep them in a protective pouch instead! You can also keep a small cup of water close by to keep the pearls moisturized.

What is your favorite bead storing tip? Did yours tip make the list? 

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I have so many beads i expect a craft store to call me! I bought one of those craft bags that comes with five plastic boxes in side. Each box is divided into small sqiuares. It holds a lot. I have two of those. Another great way to store seed beads is the seven day pill keepers. I got them for a dollar easch. They hold seed beads perfectly. I put all 11/0's in one, 15/0's in another and so on. It's great

The dollar tree is the way to go! I have found various bead packs there. They have 6-8 different size styles per tray. The quality isn't there but for practice or if size isn't an issue they are fantastic! Bonus, the trays close are reusable, small, and stack. I also use the condiment containers, they have round and square 8-10 per pack. Big enough for pkgs/strands of beads and header cards. Foam trays 30/pk are great for many projects, reusable, and can stick a needle in them. But, I love reusing the plastic divided trays from snacks or precut produce. Larger compartments for projects requiring different size/style beads and they have lids.

I prowl thrift stores and second-hand stores, garage sales, and the like for glass bottles and glass spice bottles in which I store my beads. Empty baby food jars are useful too, even small sealers. A spice jar and kitchen tool carousel holds my tools, while two bakers' racks hold the jars of beads easily visible. Another recyclable, tangerine crates hold the spools of wire and elastic, cord and leather. Another tangerine crate holds tubes of glue and glue accessories. If the jars are too small to be stable on the wire shelves, I place a wooden shelf across the shelf to prevent them from slipping through. A couple of crate style CD holders are on the wall holding other bottles of beads or semi-precious stones.

I really like these tips on storing beads because I have been out shopping to find just the right thing and come back empty handed because most jewelry containers are so expensive and the fishing boxes did not have enough compartments. I bought some little plastic bags I have been using and throwing them in a big box and every time I want something I have to pull everything out. These are some very wise and helpful tips. Thanks Is there any other beads besides pearls that can not be stored in plastic?

With these awesome tips I can finally get my jewelry area organized. Thanks so much.

I need to learn how to organize my beads in the new year. These are such great ideas! I would have never thought to store beads in ice cube trays!

I use the plastic fishing, tackle boxes. But also besides using The compartments, I still put my beads in small plastic bags instead of them just being loose. "I am very clumsy and tend to spill a lot!" Cindy

I purchased a utility cart from Lowe's that has 4 wire baskets. The top basket is perfect for your tools, small loom, books, etc. The remaining three baskets are deep and hold a lot of the acrylic bead organizers. Mine are organized first by color, then size. My gold and silver components are stored in separate boxes which are also organized. I've included a pic. Everything is labeled except my box of beading wire/thread and needles. I have another separate box for chain. My cart is on wheels so I can take it wherever I want to go. For traveling, I store my bead boxes in the 99 shopping bags you can get at just about any grocery store or Walmart. Hope this is helpful.

Keep track of your beads and beading supplies on an Excel spreadsheet. It also helps when reordering from your favorite online bead store.

You can't store good quality pearls in tackle boxes, it'll ruin them. Nothing plastic at all. For pearl strands, you can leave them intact and hang them up, or remove the pearls from the strand and store them in glass jars. For finished projects either hang them up, store them in silk bags, or use pearl folders. I've lost well over $400 in pearls using plastic =

Thank you so much for mentioning this! I've just begun buying the occasional strand of real pearls and would have stored them incorrectly. One of the many things I appreciate about websites like this is that beaders with more experience share their knowledge with others who might not know.

I like collecting small glass jars like gift jelly, garlic, and spices come in to use as displays. For in progress projects, I use 4" plastic plant drip trays from the Dollar Tree. I use an extra tray on bottom for stability, stack sorted beads, and add an extra tray on top. I slide them into a quart sized zip lock bag. I get very little spilling even if I pack them in a suit case. I pack a few extra, along with that bag of orphan beads, to use as catch trays for impromptu projects with the kids.

What a great, affordable, easy to get, idea for my things! Because of illness I spend a great deal of time in bed. I need something inexpensive yet manageable. This sounds like a great idea for my beads that I encourage the children to work with. Sufficiently sturdy for use, able to set up individual trays for their projects so no arguing over beads etc., easily transportable... Wow my mind has just kicked in planning things! Thank you.

After sorting all into divided, clear plastic boxes (by type, color, size), I store the boxes in a business-traveler roll-along suitcase. The boxes stack beautifully, and the outside pockets are used for tools in the top pocket and current projects or newly acquired items I've yet to sort in the bottom. Super easy to take to a friends or roll into another room to bead watching TV or hanging with the family. Will be going out-of-state to a family wedding and plan on taking it with me so I don't have to decide before going what I'm going to need to create the bridal party's sets. Just pop it in the car and away I go!

What a fabulous idea! I've been searching and thinking and just didn't think of this.

I like to use the clear plastic bottles with snap-shut lids that hold fabric softener (beads) to hold larger beads and bead mixes, such as pearl mixes. They are free bottles once you have emptied the softener into your laundry, they are clear with a pourable lid, and they look very pretty when holding your beads. The Molly McButter clear plastic containers are also great to use for smaller beads. The lid opens to either a spooning side or a sprinkling side--useful for pouring the amount of beads you need for your project.

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