So Many Beads, So Few Places to Put Them...

Those of us who are addicted to beads know how quickly a small stash of a manageable size can grow into an enormous collection. When I started making jewelry 16 years ago, my beads fit nicely into small, see-through ArtBin boxes like this one.

When my bead stash outgrew those containers, I used them for storing some of my specialty beads, like my (mostly) vintage Swarovski style 3700 and 3701 crystal margarita beads and the Czech pressed glass flower beads that I use in some of my Haskell-style designs, and moved the rest of my beads into Plano tackle boxes. But soon after I started collecting vintage glass and Swarovski crystal beads in earnest, I started rapidly down that slippery slope that all avid collectors with no "won't power" find themselves on eventually.

My bead addiction has caused a number of problems over the years. It goes without saying that it has put a major dent in my wallet. It also has threatened my marital harmony from time to time as my huge stash has encroached increasingly on our available living space. And the more beads I acquired, the harder it became to organize them in a way that let me see all my choices and find what I'm looking for when I'm designing a new piece of jewelry.

I'm betting this sounds familiar to many of you, right? It's a lot harder than it looks to find a system that works, and what works for one person's bead stash isn't necessarily the best solution for someone else's. My own bead collection - which at this point is large and varied enough to stock a good-sized store! - has lived in and eventually outgrown many different storage solutions, and I've invested a lot of time, effort and money experimenting with different storage boxes and bead organizers trying to find solutions that worked well not only for the number, size and type of beads I collect but also for my personal approach to designing beaded jewelry. Thanks to my husband, I eventually found a solution that had let me organize and store even my ridiculously large bead collection in a way that works for me: portable organizers designed to carry around hardware and other small parts. I've now got more than a dozen of these awesome cases with see-through lids and removable compartments. I have one (or, in some cases, several) for each color family.

They come in two depths, and my favorites are the shallow cases. Here's the one I use for my lavender beads:

Unfortunately, I need to use the double-deep cases for my favorite colors because those are the colors I have the most of. This is my "greenish aqua" bead stash - one of three double-deep cases that house my blue beads: The other two cases, which are just as full, contain my "bluish aqua" and "true blue" beads. (It's a sickness, I know!)

If you're looking for a better way to organize and store your own bead collection, you can get more great ideas in my article about my favorite bead organizers and bead storage products on Squidoo.

What do you find most challenging about organizing and storing your beads?


  1. I always enjoy reading about the artist's process because it develops a deep appreciation of all the work that went into each bead or component.Thanks for sharing your tips those tips are very useful for me.


    1. My pleasure, Ava! I'm glad my jewelry making tips are useful to you. :)


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