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.