Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Craft Space and Bead Storage Ideas

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to organize and de-clutter your craft space, you’re probably contemplating some new and improved storage solutions. Although we might fantasize about living in a bead store, since a never ending abundance of supplies in one big room would remove the need to constantly shuffle our stash around, it still wouldn’t help with the little things. Every opened package, cut strand, and salvaged treasure needs a home - preferably sorted by size, color, or shape! Add to that all the extra things that we need to keep on hand, like tools, packing materials and finished designs, the need for dependable and stress-free storage creates a never ending battle for beaders.

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite handmade and store bought storage ideas, plus a few more that I’ve discovered along the way. Many of these handy tools help to keep beading supplies together in a single limited space, and organized enough to know exactly where everything is. The less time you have to spend looking for things, or finding a home for new beads, the more time you can spend creating!

The Ultimate Bead Tray

Tackle Trays

It’s interesting to note the little things that all hobbyists have in common, and one trip through a tackle shop or sporting goods store will give you a sense of connection with fishermen and fly-tyers. This is one of the best places to find affordable and reliable storage solutions for beads and jewelry components.

My personal favorite is the compartment tray, especially those with a variety of compartment sizes. These little trays can hold a lot of beads, don’t take up a lot of space, and are very stackable. Clear trays allow you to easily grab the beads that you need, but there’s always plenty of room for labels along the sides. One tiny spill can be a huge disaster though, so I like to store beads in their original packages, and use the compartments for organizing by size and color.

Seed Bead Storage Tray

Space Saver Bead Storage Jars with Swarovski Birthstones

Traditional tackle boxes, like those with hinged, stacking trays inside, are also excellent for materials, tools and larger beads. The locking lids and handles also make them ideal for traveling and beading on the go. Smaller tackle containers like space saving jars are very handy for sorting and organizing small quantities of beads.

Cereal Boxes

Anyone who has ever visited an elementary school has probably seen magazines stored in cereal boxes, which help keep the flimsy booklets upright and easy to browse through. All you have to do is remove the top flaps and cut out a wedge from one side to make a handy book receptacle for beading magazines.

Cereal Box Storage Idea

Storing Beaded Bangles

This easy upcycled solution is also great for storing and sorting supply invoices, tutorials and printouts, and packing materials like envelopes and tissue paper. The leftover box tops can also be cut and taped together, making handy bracers for storing beaded bangles.

Food Containers

Food containers of all shapes and sizes can make ideal homes for our materials and tools. Once they are thoroughly washed and dried, baby food and spice jars, dairy tubs, and even cookie trays can make a little space go a long way. To make containers absolutely spotless for bead and jewelry storage, I triple wash them with hot soapy water and a generous amount of baking soda. It works as a mild abrasive that also deodorizes and disinfects.

Bamboo Beads in a Dairy Tub

Beaded Bracelets in a Cookie Tray


For a more professional feeling craft space, there are a wide variety of bead storage options available to choose from. Personally, I find a lot of them too fiddly for my taste, and each one has it’s limits for bead sizes and quantities. But for beaders who are on the move a lot, storage totes can provide both organization and security.

Bead Tube Tower by Beadsmith

Drawer Displays

I can’t say enough good things about these upcycled beauties. Even though we all know hanging isn’t good for beaded jewelry, it’s hard to resist these pretty little compartments. Something about them is just ideal for the magpie in all of us. In a studio, these refurbished printer drawers would make great displays or storage space for bead strands and hanks.

Jewelry Display by Blue Bird Heaven

Other fun vintage and upcycled options include commercial baking trays, science lab accessories, and sewing kits - thoroughly cleaned, of course.

Home Décor

If it has cubbies, hooks, shelves, or drawers, chances are it can be used for storing craft supplies. Any bed and bath or home improvement store will have a treasure trove of storage options for beading and craft spaces. Paper towel racks are great for spools of ribbon, cord and thread. Shoe caddies are just waiting to be filled with tools and other miscellany.

If you’re thinking about an overhaul of your craft space, the Crafty Storage blog might help give you some ideas for how to get organized. There are lots of great images of studios and storage ideas to get inspired with.

Do you have a fun or unusual way to store beads and jewelry?

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  1. hi Mortira. I find that the "Lean Cuisine"-type plastic trays that have three compartments (entree+ 2 sides) fit on my lap perfectly for beading while watching TV. (If I need a lot of compartments, I use one of those inexpensive painter's palette trays--the kind that are round or oval with eight or nine shallow indentations (think of a deviled egg tray.) I can stack several works-in-progress using these trays.

    As for storage, I'm planning on taking advantage of the Container Store's January Elfa sale to get a whole bunch of shallow drawers. I've outgrown the tackle boxes, and the beads are taking over my room.

  2. All great ideas! Thanks! My husband is currently working on a huge wall unit with built in desks to fit into my craft space. I cannot wait to get organizing once it is in!

  3. Great ideas! Am going to have to put a couple of these to use! Thanks for sharing, Morti!

  4. Bi dear Mortira!
    These area alla great ideas! I usally use food conteiner anyway I bought the Bead Tube Tower by Beadsmith.

  5. Great topic for a post! Thanks for sharing so many great ideas.

    I'm a big fan of Tupperware containers for storing tools and finished pieces.

  6. Yes, thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas! I've never seen a cereal box used this way. Clever. :)

  7. Hello Mortira!

    I am currently in the process of organizing all of my seed and accent beads by color using the small space saving jars with lids. They come 12 for big and 24 for small to a stackable rectangular container.

    I've pretty much stopped using organizing trays except for buttons and focal elements.

    I find organizing my beads to be relaxing and a nice way to spend an afternoon.


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