Organize Your Seed Beads

Organize Your Seed Beads
by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Part of cleaning up my studio space involved grouping like items together. After getting the packs of seed beads organized and into storage bins, I realized I was missing out on a great opportunity to let them help dress up the place and lend some color to the white bookcases. To take advantage of all their beauty and still keep them organized, I transferred the Dyna-Mites™ seed beads from their 30-gram containers and the Delicas® from their 50-gram plastic zip-top bags into 5x9/16" vials. I then placed the vials into clear plastic organizers like the one pictured below.

This brightened up the place and helped me see and appreciate the beads I have, and to see what I am missing!

In discussing this topic with Jean Campbell, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads contributor and bead artist extraordinaire, I found she had some great ideas on the subject too. Take it away Jean...

There are three elements to keep in mind when you're assigning storage units for your seed beads.
  • First, use see-through containers only. The biggest draw with seed beads is their color, so make it easy to identify them by sight.
  • Second, store grams of like seed beads in individual containers. Zip-bags, tubes, jars or boxes are all great options and will insure you don't end up with a mixed seed bead ''soup.'' Keeping like beads in separate containers not only makes for easy clean up, it is very important when designing as it enables you to hold one seed bead color up to another to see if the colors complement each other.
  • Finally, make labels for your containers indicating size, shape and origin. For example, keep all of your Japanese size 11/0s in one storage unit, your Czech size 11/0s in another, your size 8/0s and 6/0s in a third, and your cylinder beads in a fourth. This makes it especially simple to retrieve specific types of seed beads for a project.
Here Are A Few Storage Ideas To Get Your Seed Bead Organization Underway:

Screw-together space saver jars are an innovative way to store any size seed bead. These clear plastic containers are made up of individual jars that screw together into a column. Keep like colors together in the same column so you can quickly eye the perfect match for your project. If you have a color you'd like to add to the column, just twist it on! Then, twist the individual colors for your project from their columns and build a new column, making your project portable. You could even add another space saver jar to the column for needles and thread and you've got a perfect on-the-go storage unit.

The Craft Kit Company® clear plastic organizer case is a dream for the person with a rainbow selection of seed beads. And there are many versions and sizes of this organizer to choose from, each with its own collection of different or like-sized boxes.

The Craft Kit case shown here is filled with 50 individual snap-shut boxes that hold 20 grams of size 11/0 seed beads each. You can remove the small boxes from the large one, use them for your project, and return them to the larger case when you're finished. No muss, no fuss. To whip an unruly seed bead collection into shape:
  • fill each small box with seed beads
  • fill the large organizer with all the same-sized seed beads
  • use a permanent marker or other type of label to write the bead size on the side of the organizer
  • stack them all on a shelf or keep them in a large-size milk crate or other kitchen-type tote

(This case also comes with a bead scoop, a great tool for moving seed beads out of the box and onto your work surface, and vice versa.)

For Czech seed beads on hanks, first place them in 5x3'' clear plastic zip-top bags. Keeping the hanks in bags will ensure that any loose strands stay contained. Put the filled zip-tops in a Plano® clear plastic rectangular organizer box, a versatile storage unit with 14 removable compartment dividers that let you change the storage design to meet your needs.

If you want instant access to your seed beads, how about this solution? Place seed beads in plastic vials and store them upright in a wooden tool organizer.

Or how about hanging Czech seed bead hanks or filled plastic vials on a necklace display? For a large collection of seed beads, line your entire studio with wall display racks and surround yourself with shimmering color!

Necklace Display

Wall Display Rack

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Organize Your Seed Beads," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

''I just read your article about organizing seed beads. I really enjoyed it - anything to help organizing is a great benefit! I wanted to add one point. I order most of my beads from Fire Mountain Gems :). In fact, I just received a big shipment. I do use the clear stackable containers. What I found really helps is that I peel the label from the bag of beads (not only seed beads), I trim the label (but make sure that the Catalogue number is still visible), write my price on it, and then attached to the container. This helps me figure out my cost when designing; I organize the beads by type, color and size. When I need to reorder, I have the information readily available.

Thank you for your great products and service.''
- Andrea

"Just wanted to thank you for the latest Jewelry Makers Newsletter. I have recently tried my hand at looming, but was unable to find any instructions on how to finish off a piece, and there you come again to my rescue, with the article, Checkerboard Bracelet.Thanks Fire Mountain, you always save the day!"
- Dinah

"Love your newsletter. I like to hear how crafters and artists use beads in their work. It is inspiring! Thank You,"
- Cathy