Many of my orders from Fire Mountain Gems arrive in flat Priority Mail boxes that are about 9 x 12 inches. A bead mat fits in nicely and any unfinished project that needs to be put on hold can be stacked and stored neatly.
I found out that a cheap toilet paper holder mounted on a piece of wood works great as a dispenser for the Silkon® brand thread. So does a vertical paper towel holder. Keeps everything organized, and it's easy to "reload" when I run out of a spool. For other spool types, I use a dowel rod resting in a Y-fork of some kind or another. Sometimes I mount it on a wall, sometimes I just leave it free-standing.
I make many pairs of pierced earrings with earwires rather than posts. It is easy to turn a mesh wastepaper basket upside down and hang the earrings around the basket. For display, put the basket on a turntable or Lazy Susan and you can fill the inside with colored cellophane and secure a mirror to the top (which is now the bottom since you flipped it over!).
I use the amber bottles that medicine comes in. I take off the medicine label and place the label that comes with the beads. I also use a binder with the clear pockets in it to hold any of my bead books that fall apart.
Prescription bottles make great storage containers. I also peel the label off the bags and attach them to the prescription bottle. The plastic bags that the order is shipped in are used to ''stage'' a customer's order and also to ''stage'' materials for a project. Everything gets used!
I purchased several old lunch trays like those used in school cafeterias. When working on projects, I put everything I need in the various cup/dessert/vegetable areas and put a bead mat in the middle. I can work on several projects without confusion and just stack them when I can't :( bead.
I used to work at Ritz Camera and was able to take home a good amount of Fujifilm canisters to store my beads in (my husband uses them for his chain mail too). Each canister can hold about a hank of beads and the Fuji brand is nearly clear so you can see the beads' color. Then, I printed out labels on my computer to put on the canisters with a description of the contents. An added bonus to these canisters is that the lid can double as a little sample palette when working on a project. You can go to any place they develop film and ask for their canisters, they'll give them free because they're usually thrown away anyway!
I like to display strands of beads (especially pearls) on walls. It takes care of storage and decorating at once! I buy cheap yardsticks from local hardware stores (under a dollar) and put very small nails every inch for hanging strands on. Then I use two bigger nails to secure the yard stick to the wall. This does less damage to the wall than putting all those nails directly in, and your beads are spaced evenly. It also works on the backs or sides of book cases. I usually paint the yardsticks before I hang them, but if you don't, you can also use them for measuring strings of beads!
My husband used to smoke large cigars that were packaged in glass tubes with cork top closures. These are so nice for seed beads or any beads. What is so nice about it, is it doesn't cost me anything and his cigar smoking friends give them to me also. Happy beading,
The plastic pill boxes that hold a week or more of pills works great for holding small amounts of, or single, beads. I can put matching colors or sizes in the same container with seven compartments. You may be able to find the extra large ones or multiple times a day container. I was given one that was opaque and was frustrated that I couldn't see the beads, so I taped one bead to the top or each "day." Now I know what's inside.
I found that a pillbox organizer works wonderful for many little items, like thread, beads, findings and other little odds and ends. They come in different colors and sizes. I use the 7 day organizer to carry certain items in my purse and I use the month organizer for a number of items for use at home. The tops snap closed tight so items stay where you place them. Just be careful and don't get your medication pill organizer mixed up with your beadwork organizer. If you buy one, just look at it to make sure the tops stay closed tight. I bought one at a dollar store that didn’t snap tight, I still use it, I just put larger items in it like thread. I also use some of my husband’s plastic tackle boxes; they work great! Happy beading!!!
I try to use all the boxes and bags that come in my orders. I work in a pharmacy and take in the medium sized Ziploc® bags for the many types of drugs that are individually wrapped and won't fit in a bottle. They are great!
An easy idea for a bead tray for designing and making beaded items is the black Styrofoam trays that meat comes in. Safeway's meat trays have rows of square individual depressions that hold the beads in place. You can use pins on it, or if I have not finished a bracelet and don't have it crimped yet, I staple each end down on the edges of the tray until I'm ready to start again. Cut holes in it to hold top drilled items while gluing in a bail.
I keep all the bags my jewelry beads come in from Fire Mountain. I discovered the smallest ones are great for holding a sewing bobbin that I filled with beading thread. You just leave about a half inch of thread hanging out and pull out what you need.
I create hairpins and to make sure all my items for each hairpin is in a secure area before making, I use my old prescription bottles I got from the pharmacy. I use recycle paper put the customer names on the bottle and all items needed for their hairpin order and secure the top on it. Then when it's time for that customer, I open the prescription bottle put the items on the mat and create my beautiful hairpins and when they're done put them back into the bottle. When I go to package them up I will not confuse them with another customers hairpins; great way to recycle and keep things in order. Hope that helps you with what to do with those plastic containers from the pharmacy.