My husband gave me a gorgeous antique Hamilton printers cabinet for Christmas 2 years ago. I keep all my art beads in those drawers and I realized that my clutter clearing had to start there. When I first got the printers cabinet, all my lampwork beads fit nicely in the top drawer and my collection of artisan ceramic beads fit in the 2nd drawer. In the meantime my collection has grown considerably and I've added handmade metal and polymer clay components as well.
The beads were now piled several layers thick, so I could not even see what was beneath the surface layer. And new acquisitions had absolutely no place to go, so they littered the top of my worktable, my desk, trays stacked up on the floor, the living room coffee table etc. I realized I could never clear space for work, until I addressed the overflowing storage issues.
Now you may be thinking, "This is all well and good but most people don't have the luxury of having an antique printers cabinet, in which to store their beads". And you are right in that respect. Believe me, I know I am fortunate. But the process I went through works just as well for an overflowing bead stash in fishing tackle boxes, tool boxes, dresser drawers or shoe boxes. It doesn't matter where you store your beads, when the mess stops you from being creative, it's time to address the issue.
I decided I now needed 2 drawers for the lampwork and 2 drawers for ceramic. I probably need a drawer for metals and polymer clay too, but I haven't gotten that far yet. You may need an extra hardware box, shelf or whatever. To make room for 4 drawers of art beads, I had to do a lot of rearranging. I pulled all the seed beads out of the second drawer and piled them on top of the cabinet (I use Tic Tac sized boxes to store my seed beads).
I decided to put all the "cool" colored lampwork in one drawer and the "warm" colored lampwork in the next drawer. So I removed all the lampwork beads and sorted them into the two drawers by color. Its so much easier to find and see what I have now. Next I took on my even messier ceramic drawer.
Look how deeply stuff is piled on top of each other, especially toward the front of the drawer! Plus I was forever misplacing things. I'd get the impulse to create and then wouldn't be able to find a recently ordered pendant. Maybe I'd find it on the bathroom counter next to the sink, or maybe I wouldn't be able to locate it at all and the creative impulse would fizzle out with frustration.
I organized the ceramics by warm and cool colors, too. Each drawer is divided into 3 parts and each part now has one color family, with one or two exceptions.
Cool Colors: Blue
I was amazed that I had so many blue beads.
I need to make more blue jewelry for a while!
Warm Colors: Orange/Gold
I was surprised at how few oranges I have. Its one of my favorite colors,
so I guess my orange beads get used up more quickly, than less favored colors.
Part of my organization process includes keeping track of which artisan made which piece and the cost per component. Usually I cut the the maker's business card apart and attach the upper portion to the bead, along with the price. But if I have ordered multiple beads and the artist sent one business card, then I just use a tag and write the important information on it.
Different systems work for different people, but here are some possible takeaways from today's post, that could be useful, no matter what kind of storage containers you are using.
- You can organize art beads/focal beads separately from commercially made beads, if you wish. I like to do this because my design process almost always starts with an inspiring art bead or pendant.
- You can organize art beads and commercial beads by color.
- You can tag beads with the price and maker, so you can credit the maker and get an accurate accounting of the costs involved in your jewelry designs. Its a low tech method, but it works for me.
- Whatever system you have now, will evolve over time and will need adjusting as your needs change.
Please share some of your favorite organizing ideas with everyone, in the comment section below. Keep the conversation going.
Oh boy do I need to do that!! I doubt it will ever get done lol. Thanks for sharing how you're keeping track of all your yummy art beads. Uh where's the Copper? :)ReplyDelete
I still have my metals and polymer clay drawer left to do this weekend. I'll post before and after pics when I get that drawer done. :)Delete
This is similar to what I do, and I, too, have a Hamilton cabinet! I have trays sorted roughly by type of bead and then sections cordoned off by bead maker. I like the color idea. I am terrible about labeling things. I then have drawers by color or metal tone. And at the bottom I have three or four drawers filled with bezels for my own components. I did buy some really great rolling wooden drawer from Home Decorators. I found that the jewelry trays with the flocked inserts fit well in them and I am now starting to use them better. I have drawers for clasps. headpins, jump rings, ear wires. It helps to have them right there and handy to have them sorted by color or size of the piece rather than in baggies. That is my nemesis. I also have towering boxes overflowing with beads I have bought to the point that I don't even know what I have. But I know I don't need to buy another bead for some long time! (Of course that doesn't stop me! B&B is just around the corner!) Thanks for sharing your tips. It helps to see how others organize. That is something I hope to tackle this long weekend! Enjoy the day. ErinReplyDelete
Wow! That is quite a beautiful collection. I really like the way you have it organized, and such a great show piece of furniture. Makes me want to take a peek in all the drawers... Thanks!ReplyDelete
This past year I organized most of my beads by colors. I used color arrangement like yours.. My beads are in plastic bins. I also have separate bin for copper, silver, gold.ReplyDelete
Wow, LOVE your printer's cabinet.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your tips.
I have definitely not solved my storage problem yet, but I have picked up a few good tips along the way.
I have covered the back of my studio door in chicken wire mesh. Then I had a few fun hours bending cheap wire hooks. Now all my beads are in see-through zip bags, organised loosely in colours. I write on the bags the cost per bead (though I should have added maker as well, D'oh).
Another tip I use religiously is to use my computer's boot up time to clear away items. Instead of sitting there annoyed that it is slow I try to fit in as much tidying as possible. I almost keep on top of the mess that way. Almost :oD
What great ideas Nana. I esp. like the idea of using boot-up time to neaten things up.Delete
I need a cabinet like that Linda! That is a great organization you got going there...love it!ReplyDelete
I do think some organization is key. I recently arranged all my findings by color and that has helped so much in my jewelry making. Love your printers chest for your organization but don't think I will ever have one of them so will work with what I do have.ReplyDelete
This is a great idea, but like you say, not everyone can have drawers like that. I got some cheap drawer dividers a couple of years ago to try to keep some of my clutter in some semblance of order, they worked pretty well. My workroom has gotten so bad that I almost can't walk through. I threw a bunch of junk furniture in there for a garage sale, and it's still there after a few weeks, Charity shop trip slated for this weekend!ReplyDelete
Great post, Linda! I know many folks like to inventory on the computer, but for me, nothing works better than the hands-on labeling. It's inspiring just touching everything. Bet when you are done organizing, you'll have that overwhelming urge to create!ReplyDelete
These drawers are "impossible" to find in my part of Canada. I was thinking of having something like this built. We have many highly-skilled local woodworkers who charge very reasonable rates. I wonder if there are good quality images out there of how these cabinets are constructed?
Google Hamilton cabinets and you will get lots of pictures. Also at the start of this post I put a link to the blog I wrote when I first got my cabinet and there a pictures there too. Good luck!Delete
I'm envious of your storage system! I was just complaining to my husband last night that I need to invest in a better way to store my beads. Right now I just use small ziplock bags thrown into bigger bags and its such a pain to find what I am looking for! You know that quote "I'm too creative to be neat" or "I'm not messy, I'm artistic" ??? Thats me in a nutshell!ReplyDelete
I recently saw a sign that said: "Creativity is messy. And I am VERY creative!" Love that!Delete
Honored to see some of my creations in the mix! Great job...and what a gorgeous cabinet you found. Organization is important and I like it out of sight....If I see too much I get overwhelmed and lose my ability to think creatively.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing!
I am so envious of your storage system! I was just telling my husband last night that I need to invest in a better way to store my beads. Right now, I use small ziplock baggies thrown into bigger ziplock baggies and let me tell you... It makes it nearly impossible to find ANYTHING!! I've never been a very organized person. LOL!ReplyDelete
I keep track of where my beads came from, cost, etc. By writing that info on scrap paper or using the receipt itself, and photographing the bead and info together. The information doesn't need to ever be printed out, unless you want to. Then long after the beads are used and the tag is thrown away, I still have that record. Plos I don't have to store the teg along with the bead, and that's easier for me.ReplyDelete
Love this idea. I'm always happy to be paper free. Thank you!Delete
Great post! I keep organize my art beads by color. The beads go into baggies, and each artist is given a number, which is written on the bag. The baggies go into an undivided drawer. Art bead earring pairs go into divided drawers with a slip of paper with the name. I love organizing beads. :) (and i have a TON of blue too :)ReplyDelete
Oooh you have soooo many lovely pieces I would love to come fondle them all! Lucky lady, not only do you have a fab cabinet but it's pack with some really, really cool pieces!ReplyDelete
~ ENVIOUS Shelley
I would love to have a printer's cabinet like your, Linda. That way I could see the parts of my bead collection---art beads--- that are hidden & not so organized. These are stored in plastic shoe tubs, & placed on top of a bookshelf. If only I could open up a drawer to see them & run my fingers through them! My gemstone beads have been very easy to organize, in plastic containers with small vials. I simply put a piece of masking tape on the bottom of each vial with the gemstone type, the size & price per bead. I have always been good at tagging & pricing my supplies by price per bead, per inch of wire, etc; it's the organizing them after they have been priced that could use a bit of work! I really like your way of organizing by color.ReplyDelete
Love your cabinet, I think I'll be on the hunt for one because it seems perfect for bead storage. I too recently organized & if helps that creative block :) Thanks for the share, great post!ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness Linda - that's a lot of beads! I LOVE that printer's cabinet, what a fantastic method of storage for ALL that you have. You've done a great job of reorganizing and I'm sure you feel more at ease now. Great post.ReplyDelete