If you love beads, you will eventually end up with Stash Issues. Beads aren’t the most difficult things to store, certainly. You don’t have to worry about moths or humidity very much. But they’re heavy. You need to keep that in mind when reviewing your storage options.
The perfect stash management system for most of us will keep our beads safe, visible, and easy to find and use. For most of us, having our stash nicely tucked away in a closet is not a good option. You can’t tell what you have, or what might go together if it’s all in boxes on shelves in the dark. My solution was to hang up my favorites, like this:
Arranged somewhat by color or texture, they hang on one of those wire grids from “organization” stores. I use shower curtain hooks, because they can easily hold multiple strands securely and you can easily remove one particular strand. Be sure to use enough wall anchor type screws to hold the weight when you do this! Ask the guy at the hardware store how many to use. This rack has nearly 300 pounds hanging on it. Screws put directly into drywall will fall out! And it’s very exciting when it happens, but good beads die in the process. (Please don’t ask how I know this. It was very upsetting to me and the cats, and I lost 4 large agate leaves.) (And for the record, having a colored wall behind it isn’t a good idea – it can throw off the colors. I put heavy white paper behind it sometimes.)
For glass, I’ve used plastic boxes for several years. Beads are arranged by color or by type, such as “Flowers and Leaves” or “Fake Stone glass.” This is “Blues – Aqua and Cobalt.”
I keep these boxes on the heavy wire shelving, stacked 2 or 3 high, usually. Remember, each shelf can only hold so much weight, keep in mind what it says on the box when you buy the shelves. For more fragile beads, I use the boxes that have the little movable dividers to keep them separate.
I don’t like the hard plastic (brittle cracky) boxes that they sell in the Craft section most of the time. I get my storage from the fishing section of sporting goods stores or discount stores. For some reason, a box with a brown label that says something about fishing on it costs a lot less than the exact same box with a pink or purple label that says craft storage on it!
Some people like to use the flip-top boxes to keep each bead type separate. They can be put into trays or small plastic boxes made just for them. They’re handy for Swarovski crystals, for example, because you can tap out as many as you need and be sure the cats can’t scatter the rest all over the room. (Although the boxes to make wonderful Cat-hockey pucks, and they love the noise, it’s not a good idea.) Flip-tops also work well for crimps, clamshells, jump rings, etc.
And how to store focal beads? Get a branch from a bush, one with a nice arrangement of smaller branches. (Crepe myrtle and photinia work well.) Let it dry for a couple of months, then rub (or sand) off the bark. Trim it into shape as necessary. If it is big enough around, you can nail it to a base, or you can hang it up on the wall using wire and a couple of picture hooks. Hang your focal beads, pendants, big clasps, and other really cool finds on the branches using bits of ribbon, embroidery floss, and yarn. Make sure they’re all hanging at different lengths.
The important thing is that you can find what you’re looking for easily, (to avoid the “I know I have this at home, but I’m buying another because I JUST can’t find it!” syndrome) and your beads are stored safely. Some famous bead artists keep all their stash in large shallow bowls scattered all around the studio, so they are both inspiration and easily accessible storage. Do anything that works for you, and feel free to ask us about management options!
p.s. – what’s your favorite storage solution? Please share in the comments!!