Dec 13, 2014

Bead Storage

It starts out innocent enough.  Buy a package of beads for a project. Then another.  And another.  Next thing you know, you have a bazillion (well okay, maybe not that many) packages of beads.  There's got to be a better way to organize and store them, right?

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,


Sue said...

I have six of the purple bead cases; got them from Michaels............I have TONS of beads, with jewelry making, etc..... have some of the others too! Great way to store beads.

Sue your SM

Shelleen said...

I don't care for the way I have my beads right now. I want to use this system through Staples

Blu said...

This was really interesting! I think I'm going to check my Dollar Tree for those pill boxes. My beads are all in the original packages kept sequentially on a floss ring lol

Irene said...

Good overview Meari!

I've got quite a lot of beads as I do some jewellery making too. My fovourite storage method is flip top containers which I'm gradually in the process of moving too. They come in different sizes so you can match the size to the number of beads you have. (Fusion beads sells boxed sets of these.)

I've been keeping beads in small snap lock plastic bags which are labeled and stored by number in larger plastic comparmentised boxes. This works OK but I find the bags break eventually and tend to be bulk at the bottom where the beads settle.

Mylene said...

Wow! Those looks great for beads storage!

Anonymous said...

I like the pill container idea. Right now I have them in several different types of containers.
Betty in AZ (ILCS)

Pam in IL said...

I'm not sure which storage system I like best. My Mill Hill beads are in their original packages because I only have a few of them. I have some small glass bottles with snap on lids that I keep my other beads in. At some point in the future, I may need to rethink my storage solutions if I continue to collect beads.

Anonymous said...

Love the pill cabinet idea. Not sure where to get them. Never have seen them before.


CJ said...

I did not know there are so many ways to store beads. I really like the converter pill minder. I don't even know where my beads are. Hope you and your siblings are doing well.

Merry Christmas.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I use those circular screw top ones as well, but they're a bit heavy for travel, so they stay in California.

In Phnom Penh, I just leave the Mill Hill beads in their boxes, but I'd like a lightweight, compact way to take more choices with me.

♡ Lisa N. in Cambodia

Debbie said...

Great review for bead storage! The Craft Mate looks perfect. At present I've a mix of small containers.

Sharon said...

I love beads and you have so many wonderful ideas for storing them! Thanks for sharing -

Anonymous said...


Great bead post on your blog, I like the pill organisers, I have some spare ones here, never thought to use them!!

Cheers and thanks
Julie in Australia

Akila said...

You are one of the most organized persons I know, lovely write-up on the various ways to store beads

Katie said...

All great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Angela said...

Now that I have started to stitch more projects that include beads, I have found that I need to think about a storage system. This has given me many great ideas :)

Summer said...

Love the pill storage box idea! will look into getting some in the new year. Thanks for the great idea.

gominam said...

Thanks a lot for these great ideas. Really enjoyed reading your blog!