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You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Posted by learntobead on April 19, 2020

Containers, Or How To Keep Things Organized

It’s hard to contain a beader’s or craft person’s delight for containers.

Boxes. Boxes with lids. Boxes with drawers. Boxes with neatly inset boxes with lids and drawers. Boxes on wheels. Boxes on wheels that fit neatly into the limited space between two cabinets. Boxes that rotate. And boxes that levitate.

There are at least three challenges that every beader faces.

First is finding the best container.

Second is deciding how to organize your beads and craft supplies and tools and all your containers. And if you keep notes and sketches, how to keep these organized and accessible, as well.

Third is labeling and keeping track of everything.

Containers are everywhere. Bead stores have some good ones, but you find the best ones at hardware stores (tool boxes) and tackle stores (fishing boxes) and kitchen and bath stores (organizers).

There are many things which make good containers. These include egg boxes, muffin pans, deviled egg trays, cosmetic cases, containers and accessories for lipsticks, nail polishes and brushes, contact lens cases, and tic-tac mint boxes. Better containers are things you can see through.

It is not uncommon for beaders and crafters to completely re-organize a previously well-organized bead or craft work set up, upon finding new and different containers for organizing beads.

Containers, you see, are just another excuse for handling beads and crafts. And while making a necklace or beading a doll requires exercising the creative mind in very taxing ways, containers and their re-organizing are less so.

Susan found her Ultimate Beading-2000 container set-up at Lowes. It was a large multi-drawer tool cabinet made from red plastic. It had a top that lifted up. It had a pull out work-shelf. And it had drawer after drawer after drawer, each dividable with adjustable section-dividers into 1”x3” spaces — Perfect. The unit even had wheels. She thought to herself, she could easily bring the unit onto an airplane, or in a car, or to the doctor’s office. Perfect.

She bought six of them. And she began the routine of re-organizing everything in her studio. And her studio was vast. Even people with vast studios would think hers was vast-er. After many days of mornings and afternoons, evenings and nights, after diligence upon diligence upon diligence, after conversing with her Freudian mother and Jungian best friend and Horney-ian sister and Bayley-ian cousin, Susan was done. Everything was re-organized.

A smile. A satisfaction. A relief. Until, that is, Susan remembered to check inside one more closet and one more desk and a kitchen cabinet and a file cabinet in her garage. Yes, Susan had forgotten about a few beads and findings that she had stashed away throughout her house. Many “few” things. Many, many “few” things. So many, in fact, that Susan had to re-organize again from scratch.

As Susan, and many other experienced beaders and crafters know, you need different kinds of containers for different kinds of situations. This amplifies the fun in finding containers.

Susan is not quite here yet, … or is she?

You need containers to store your beads. You need something to carry your beads in your purse. You need containers to hold all your beads and supplies for a particular project, and these usually must fit inside a canvas tote bag. You need containers to bring things with you on a plane. You need containers that help you bead while traveling in car. You need containers to help you sort through things. And you need containers because everyone you know has containers.

Part of the art of “container-ing” is placement. If on a desk or work surface, it must aid the flow of work and not distract from it. If on the floor, it must ideally fit within or under something, or somehow disguise itself as part of the furniture. If to be stacked, each component must rest upon the other in some natural, inherent and perfectly rational way. If there are other containers for items associated with non-beading crafts, these must somehow not contaminate those for beads. You don’t want to block anything — a doorway, the bathroom, the dining room table.

Once the containers are set, (until, of course, you find new more appealing containers), you must decide what goes in them. Easier said than done. In an internet survey I once did, most people wrote that they organize their beads by color. All the reds go in one place, all the blues in another, and so forth.

This creates a slight dilemma. Say you want to do a project with delica beads. Arrangements solely by color will mean that you’ll have to dig through a lot of different styles of beads to find the delicas you want. And you’ll have to do this for each color.

If you arrange by style, then it will be difficult to pull your beads, if you want to use several different colors.

If you arrange by materials — glass vs. gemstone vs. plastic vs. metal vs. ceramic — then it will be difficult to find and pull your beads, if you want to mix styles and colors.

If you arrange by palette, then it is easy to find colors you know that work well together. But it becomes more difficult to locate specific colors or specific sizes or specific shapes.

You might feel the urge to separate small hole from large hole beads.

You might want to keep letter beads in their own place.

You might want to have additional trays that contain all the beads and other pieces used for your favorite designs, so if you want to repeat them, all you have to do is grab one tray.

Do you mix vintage with new?

Small with large?

Holiday with general?

Beads for bead-weaving with beads for fiber embellishment and sewing?

Beads in-style with beads out-of-style?

Machine made with handmade?

Contemporary with ethnic?

Do you cut things off strands, or leave them on strands?

Do you mix up your tubes, or keep them separated?

Do you hang things on pegs on a wall, put them in drawers, put them in containers stacked on counters, or lay them in trays or on bead boards?

Ballen once told Krystal that one of the drawbacks to her container method was that there was some overlap of her categories. For instance, Lampwork, Shape-Beads (further broken down by Flora, Fauna, and Celestial/Symbols) and Large Glass Beads and On-Stone Pendants (in 6 color-grouped containers). She attempted to overcome this overlapping by giving priority to Stone Beads, then Pendants, then Shape-Beads, then Lampwork, then Large Glass Beads (which did not fit in with anything else already categorized).

And Krystal, in turn, got very confused. When she needed beads for classes, she found one arrangement of containers to be useful. But when she needed beads for projects, this same arrangement was unhelpful. Took too long to find what she needed. She could not come up with a set of rules for what should go where when.

And we haven’t begun to talk about stringing materials, jewelry findings, needles, glues, tools, and other beading accessories….

How do you label everything? How do you keep track of what you have and don’t have? How do you keep track of the color name, the color code, and the cost?

It is important to label everything: On your labels, you want some description, color name, where you bought it, any re-ordering code, and the date you bought it, as well as the price you paid for it. Save the price tags and package labels. Keep track of ideas — clippings, photos, sketches, internet notes, magazines and books. With patterns, instructions and designs, you want this categorized and kept in easily accessible and understandable file folders.

As one of our beader-friends said, “I have so many sketch books, that when I look for something, I don’t know where to start.” Moreover, “if I find the sketch I want, I don’t know where to safe-keep this, until I’m ready to begin the project, without losing it again.”

Where among all your containers in your already crowded workspace do you plan to situate the super-computer you’ll need to keep everything straight?


Beads are so small! How can you possibly have difficulty organizing them? Or running out of space?

Which brings me to another important point. Anticipate growth!

For example, if you have allowed space for 300 colors of delica beads, leave some open space for some more. There are 35–60 new colors of delicas introduced each year. Delicas are usually ordered by code number. The code numbers do not reflect any system or logic about specific colors or finishes. New color code numbers are not only incremented from the previously highest number; many new code numbers are squeezed in among the previously existing order.

Beads and other craft supplies are power, and you will always want to accumulate more and more.

With all the containers you’ll need, and all the organizing and re-organizing you have to do and keep up with, will you ever have the time to take courses and develop your skills? Maybe, maybe not.

Too much to think about.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

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