Friday, April 22, 2016

Beadslide! Torbeado! Beadvalanche!

Natural disaster has struck my beading world!  The byproduct of working full-time, dancing several days a week, and having multiple creative outlets means that sometimes I skip that necessary step of creating...putting things away.  I have so many ideas and so many projects I want to work on...but it's so hard to get motivated when you know that even one bead you need for a project is buried in a heap of things waiting to be put away (not to mention the needles and thread!).  It's gotten more out of hand than normal the point that I really HAVE to get all this dealt with, just so that I can walk into my craft room and use, well, anything!

So today, I thought I would share with you how I take this crazy, overflowing, beautiful mess, sort through everything and get it all put away.  It all starts here:
This is a 24x48x8" under bed box, overflowing and stacked about 12" higher than the sides of the bin.  As I work on projects, pause, or finish, the overflow beads end up in here, along with materials, beading tools and supplies, and sometimes partially finished projects do too!  Normally, I tend to put everything away about every 4-6 weeks (or when we have a guest) - that seems to be a manageable time frame.  In that time frame, my overflow box will end up being a bin closer to shoe box size.  This mess though...has been developing since before Christmas, which means it's going to take more of a strategic attack to sort and put away.
I store all of my beads very compactly in regular storage boxes on a big shelf (pet peeve - I detest storing air).  For the most part, I have each box labeled, and shelved with other boxes in the same broad category.  This means that the easiest way for me to sort out a disaster and put things away is to start sorting into broad categories:
Seed beads, glass, ceramic, metal, organic, stone, plastic, stringing material, tools, ufo/wip, etc.
Also, apparently I left my floor cushion unused for too long, and my supervisor took up residence...

I start out designating open bins for each broad category.  I know some categories will need bigger containers than others, so I try to plan accordingly because it's disruptive to have to recontain or add a new container for a category in the middle of sorting.
Eventually I get down to just the loose beads and bits and bobs in the bottom of the container.  I scoop it all into a smaller container to sort later so that I can get into the main part of the project - putting things away!  This part is both the most work, and the most fun!  I choose a category to start with, and pull the pertinent boxes off the shelf.  Depending on the category, each box will either be material or color specific, so I will sort each bin into the correct box as I pick up each item/bag/strand/etc.
Stray seed beads, seed beads sorted into boxes.
Glass of all types ready to be put away, organic materials and stones/fossils, all ready to be sorted into the boxes.
Sometimes this step in the process doesn't quite go as planned...usually due to shopping.  Even when I'm not beading regularly, new beads still end up making it into my collection on a regular basis.  This can become problematic when I end up with more beads than I previously had stashed in the appropriate box.  Now I have to decide - do I stash the overflow in a different box?  Or, do I rehome the whole category into a new box?!?  Oh, the dilemma!

Ahhhhhh, when it's done, it's so beautiful -carpet to walk on and nice orderly boxes full on the shelves.  There is so much potential tucked away in these boxes!  And now that the beads are out of the way, I have a lovely empty bin that I can store my fabric that I can access it easier for sewing new doll clothes...which reminds me...I need to clean off the sewing table...
Surely, I'm not the only creative person that has these issues!  What do you do when your materials take over?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Any brilliant idea for storing spools of wire and leather, because I'm still stumped on that one...  We would love to hear from you!


  1. Ooh am I having issues. Shortly before Christmas I went from stay-at-home wife to full time work outside the house with a hour commute each way! Needless to say, my creative space has been neglected. Whenever I go to straighten it, I become discouraged.

  2. Yes! All of the time. As new objects come in there seems to be a need for shifting things around. It is amazing how little pieces and beads can end up taking up so much room. Over the years my studio has had different roles and duel purposes. Now that it strictly is a studio devoted to creativity it doesn't seem to burst at the seams. I do think the winter holiday season is the worse because so many projects are going on at the same time.

  3. Lindsay, we're obviously sisters! I'm mostly a beader, but I tend to get bored with one project if it's taking too long, so then I want to pull out something different. Cross stitch, polymer clay, sewing, or possibly making a Christmas ornament of some kind are just a few! I have an entire bedroom for my "play room" filled with shoe boxes in the closet, drawers in a dresser, or larger containers stuffed behind and under furniture! It's a chore keeping them all somewhat organized, and there are times I do have to go in and seriously work to put things back in their rightful homes. I truthfully question if I'll ever use every last item before I die. But I'd have a heart attack if someone told me I had to get rid of it! It's mine, all mine, and everything is a treasure!! (Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

  4. I actually secretly love going through the humongous tangled piles of the hoard - I think there's something soothing about returning all that chaos to a state of order :)

    Plus I often find beads that I had forgotten about/ though were long gone - or have one of those lucky serendipitous moments where a selection of stray beads coalesce into an unexpected idea!

  5. The large under-bed bin for tidying up is a great idea! I even have one. It's way more efficient to put several projects worth of supplies away at one time.

    I use a "ribbon ladder" I got at JoAnns to hold spools of wire. It's a rack with removable wooden dowels. Depending on the size of the spools, you can use 5-6 of the dowels. They remove from the back, so if you hang it on the wall, you have to switch the wall-hangers to the other side of the rack. The wood dowels are a little bendy because of the weight, but none of mine have broken. At some point, I suppose I should get some metal dowels! If you use a JoAnns 40% coupon the rack is about $18, I think.

    To use, I just take the dowel completely out and extract the spool I need, then put the rest back. I haven't tried pulling the wire straight off the spool. The rack would have to be fastened to something for that to work and you probably wouldn't need to change the mounting hangers.

    For all my fiber, thread, cord etc. I have a large (28"x14") jewelry roll with 4 see-through plastic zipper pockets. It has a clothes hanger hook, so it can be hung up wherever you want. It's easy to see what colors I have through the plastic.


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