Originally, I thought I only had a few ways I was storing them. After getting out the camera and my bead "collection", I realized how many storage options I was using (or intend to use).
Years ago when I kitted up Japanese Garden, the chart called for lots of beads. I haven't used them yet, but that's a whole 'nother story, lol. I saw a Craftmates Ezy Snappin Petite Double Organizer at my LNS (which sadly went out of business). I think I paid around $30 for it, but it can be had for $18-20 online. It's the most expensive bead system I have.
As you can see, I labeled the sections with the manufacturer name and number with a labelmaker.
Pros: It has has 12 units of 7 sections that open individually. That's 84 places to store beads! It closes up nicely with two buttoned straps and can be stored like a book on a shelf. The cover is made of ultra suede so it feels nice!
Cons: The individual sections are kinda small if you have a large package of beads.
At some point, I picked up a Darice Jewelry Bead Organizer. They usually cost around $10 at JoAnn Fabrics, but you can use a 40% or 50% off coupon to get a better price. I didn't bother labeling these. I just cut the name and number from the original package and stuck it inside the containers.
Pros: The containers are larger and thus hold a lot more beads. Individual containers means you only have to take out of the one(s) you need. The containers also have screw on lids which means there's less opportunity of beads spilling if you accidentally drop them.
Cons: The rectangular case does not snap onto the base. It just slides over it. If you drop the entire thing, all the individual containers will go flying. (Thank goodness for those screw-on caps, eh?)
Similar to the Darice system is the Watchmaker Cases. These are metal containers with see thru tops that are stored in a metal box. You can get these in a variety of sizes from Lee Valley Tools. As you can see, I've not put any beads in it yet.
Pros: They come in multiple sizes and numbers in a case. The case snaps shut for more secure storage.
Cons: If you like "pretty", the outside case isn't that attractive. Nothing some stickers or decoupage couldn't fix!
I picked up the next jewel at a thrift store, but I'm sure you can get one at any drugstore. It's a 28-day pill storage binder. It's very similar to the Craftmates binder.
Pros: Takes up very little space. Perfect if you have a small number of beads.
Cons: You'd have to put up with the pill labels. Small concession for an inexpensive system, right?
If you really want an inexpensive bead storage system, go to the medical section of the nearest dollar store. I got mine at Dollar Tree for $1. Just like the previous system, it's intended use is to organize pills.
I wrote a tutorial about how I transformed a 7-Day Pill Cabinet into a bead storage system. You can read about it HERE.
Pros: I think it's cute! It's like a little cabinet with pull out drawers. It takes up very little space. It's inexpensive.
Cons: Like the previous system, the individual units don't store a lot of beads, but does hold the small packages of Mill Hill beads just fine.
Lastly, one could always leave the beads in the original packaging.
The sets of four are Mill Hill beads. Since there aren't that many beads of each color, I decided to leave them in the original package. Each "bubble" opens individually so there's no fear of spilling all of them should an accident occur. The set of eight is an off brand so I kept them in the packaging also. The downside to this package is that the bubbles don't open individually. The entire top flips open. Spillage could be a major problem if one isn't careful. I like the looks of the individual tubes so I left them as well. The lids just pop out and you can pour out what's needed. Pretty convenient!
REVISED: The above bead storage ideas are what I use for my seed bead "collection." I had forgotten that I have a couple of other storage options for the larger beads and charms I use to make scissor fobs. Read on...
I think this was another thrift store find. It measures 8 1/4" x 4 1/2" x 1 1/4".
Pros: The lid snaps securely shut. Stores large number of larger-sized beads.
Cons: If there are too many beads in each compartment, they could go flying when the lid is opened.
I also use a Darice Bead Storage System with Flip Top Lids. These cost less than $5 at JoAnn Fabrics. Again, I recommend using a 40% off coupon... why pay full price? The coupons can be downloaded from their website. There is 24 individual containers housed in a hard plastic case. It measures 4 1/2" x 6 1/8" x 1 1/4". I call these my tic-tac case as the individual containers have an opening like tic tac candy containers.
Pros: The entire system is very compact and holds quite a few beads.
Cons: Larger beads do not fit through the flip top. Often I just slide the entire top off to pour out the large beads. The lid on the plastic case does not snap securely shut... nothing a rubber band couldn't solve.
There you have it. My different bead storage ideas. Your mileage may vary...
Until next time,