Sunday, 23 September 2012

Damn you, ziplock bag...

In two days I've had two bead incidents due to a ziplock bag having ruptured in the bottom. Tiny fire-polished beads -- thankfully it wasn't seed beads, but that has happened in the past too -- pouring into the bed or the jam-packed bead box. Luckily, in both cases I spotted it before all the beads had fallen out.

And here's the thing: it has happened to me before and I know that other beaders warn about the dangers of keeping beads in ziplock bags, but I still do it. Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's thrift seeing the cost of buying hard plastic containers for all beads, maybe it's green thinking (not buying unnecessary packaging). But most of all it's because they're handy and easy to store (without taking up unnecessary space with half-filled tubes or small boxes that doesn't fit the larger bead box perfectly). In many cases they have the name/colour/number of the bead -- perhaps even the bead shop's name -- printed on them (unless they're reused), which is very practical. In many ways ziplock bags are perfect. They're an ideal way to store small things effectively. Especially for smaller beads, it's just such a practical solution. But it's also a precarious one. You never know when a ziplock bag with rupture -- and when it does it is of cause the one containing a gross of 4 mm fp or 20 g of 15/0 seeds, not the one with just half a dozen 12 mm lampies.

 If you're lucky, you spot it directly and can keep most of the beads in the bag. If you're unlucky, you end up with an unintentional bead soup in the box. Worst case scenario being if two or more bags with different (tiny) beads rupture at the same time, causing a mess that not only have to be bagged, but also sorted. Which takes forever. I know that from experience...

Some big ziplock bags are really, really thick and I trust them 100 %, but it's hard to tell about the rest as it's not necessarily down to e.g. the thickness of the bags whether they burst or not.

So what to do? As I see it, buying tiny hard-plastic boxes for all my beads would be too expensive and I don't want to store them loose in bead boxes (especially not considering the bad combination of bead boxes and cats!). Wish I could transfer all my beads, but at the moment it's not a financially sound solution for me. I always re-use tubes and flip-top boxes for my seeds, but still there are many places I buy from that uses ziplocks so the majority of my seeds are still in ziplock bags and pretty much all of my glass beads are bagged the same way. I understand that it might be the cheapest solution for the shops and not all costumers want to pay extra for tubes or boxes, especially not if they already have a lot of unused ones at home. If I already had empty tubes/boxes at home, I'd rather pay less and get a cheaper bag as I'd transfer them to a tube or box once I got the beads.

Maybe the only thing to do is to tape the edges of every ziplock bag as a precaution? Have thought of that before, but it always ends up the same way: it's too time consuming to fix all bags so I settle on just doing it on bead bags bought from here on (and already ruptured ones), but next time I get beads I've forgotten about that smart and simple idea... until it happens again -- to yourself, hearing horror stories from others doesn't help. Then I remember it. A tad too late.

I know this isn't a new issue. I know many have discussed it before and that there are different views on whether to store beads in ziplocks or not. I also know that many beaders are like me and don't really care until they find a(nother) bead soup in the bead box or have seeds pouring into the crevices of the sofa or under the cupboard... An old problem, but one that keeps occurring again and again. This time it happened to me. I hope it won't happen to you, but if you haven't thought about it before, you might want to reconsider using ziplock bags for all your beads because it could happen to you too.


  1. I like the idea of taping the bottoms of the bags. It's definitely extra work, but maybe you could do that while you watched a movie? That's my trick for sorting through mail and folding laundry. :)

  2. I love the ziplock bags as they are so practical and versatile. I've bought a bunch of them in different sizes. I just put the bag the beads come in into a second bag, doubling the protection.Several small bags can be put into a larger one. It's easier than using scotch tape, and more secure. No risk tape getting stuck to,other bags.Milka


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