Like most beaders, we have each started out with “just a few beads and findings” which has then grown and grown. Thus we have tried many storage options. There are a number of products on the market “especially designed for beaders” but many are not as useful as one might expect them to be. Some people find storage units in specialty storage stores, hardware stores or tackle shops that are serviceable but not necessarily “pretty”. We all have our own spin on what is the best for us which is the reason why there are so many options. It is easy, however, to invest in storage systems that you end up discarding because in fact they aren’t as useful as you want.
Here is a list of things to think about when choosing a storage solution. Some will be more important factors than others when determining what is best for you. Also consider whether your choice of system will be suitable if you “grow your stash” of beads and findings.
You probably want to be able to see quickly what you have therefore clear or see through containers are better than opaque even if you use labels.
Consider the categories and sub-categories of things you want to store: gemstone beads, pearls, seed beads, findings. For seed beads the sub categories may be by size (15/0, 11/0, 10/0, 8/0 etc) or manufacturer (Czech, Toho, Miyuki, Delica, Aiko). For findings, they may be round accent beads, clasps, rings, crimp beads, earring findings etc. or by type of metal.
What size and quantity of beads and supplies do you need to organize?
Where are you going to store them at home? Are there any limiting factors such as size of room, depth of shelves, and size of drawers? Can they be stored close to where you do your beading? Would it be helpful to have something on wheels?
Do you need to take beading projects away from home? Do you tend to take your entire stash with you? If you are an instructor or participate in workshops or take your beads on vacation, then you will need to consider how you are going to transport them. If you are thinking of transporting a large quantity of beads and supplies, something with wheels might help!
When you buy beads and findings, how are they packaged? Is it important to keep them in the original packaging? For instance, tubes of seed beads tell the size, the type, and the colour which might be important for some of your projects if you have to buy more to finish a project.
Are you concerned with the look of your storage containers?
How many containers or compartments do you need and what is the cost? Often people organise beads by colour and findings by metal and type to minimize search time but the cost and space may be considerable if each has a separate compartment.
If you are selling finished products or are interested in determining the cost of your effort, you may need to keep track of your cost prices.
If you are looking at a storage unit that has compartments, check whether the dividers are secure. You don’t want to deal with a bead soup if the dividers lift up or fall out. Also check how easy it is to get beads out of the compartments. For instance, if the storage container has 12 compartments and one lid and you need to use the beads that are right in the middle, how will you get them onto your beading surface easily and fast?
We hope that the above ideas will help you make a storage system decision that is the BEST for you.
Below are a few of the storage solutions that we sell here at CBS.
Craft Vacuum - Great for seed beads, glitter and more. Comes with two nozzle attachments a filter screen (so you don't lose the beads) and is USB rechargeable.
Tool racks - we have two different options for organizing your pliers and beading wire spools.
Stacking Jars - Available in multiple sizes, these jars are a great way to sort out beads. Because of their sleek design, you can also bring the stack with you when you travel.
The "Design Save 'n Go" folding bead boards can hold a project in place while you travel. The hard plastic case is lined on both sides with a beading mat to double the working surface. Available in 3 sizes.
The Voyageur - great for travelling.