Wednesday, 9 April 2014

New seed bead storage (finally I have structure!)

Seeed beads -- I love them, but they do cause me headaches sometimes. Like with my bead mix issues last week and the one neverending story that is bead storage. I know I'm not the only one with more beads than storage!

When it comes to seeds, about a third of my stash has been crammed into a plastic cookie jar the last six months or so. The rest was sorted into a storage unit, but being comprised of little partions and being opaque black, it was hard to get a good grasp of what I really had. You can just see what ever happened to be placed on top. A couple of months ago, I sorted out all 2-hole beads and shapes (drops, bugles, triangles, cubes etc) and put in another container -- which overflowed immediately...

The problem with this is that a) the beads have been spread out and b) they're stored in a way that never give me a good overview of the colours and sizes. After realising this wasn't working, especially after thinking about bead mixes and not being able to find good colour combos despite the size of my stash, I decided that enough is enough! I can't just keep dallying, trying to find the perfect solution (fit different kinds of tubes/jars/zip-locks or buy flip-top boxes for all beads, be portable, showcase each colour). It'll be too expensive to buy a specially designed storage system and I'll never do it. But I needed to tackle the poblem and suddenly I had the answer: keep it simple -- and cheap. So I bought a plastic box and a package of plastic bags with zippers.

The pics aren't great as I took them indoors on a rainy day (missed the one hour of sunshine as I was trying to cure an unpleasant -- and unlike above not figurative -- headache), but I was just so pleased with having all beads sorted once and for all that I just had to do a show and tell today.

There was the usual issue of sorting by type (shape, size) or colour, but I just did what I've always done: sort seeds and cylinders by colour [one bag for mixes and one for multi-coloured beads without one dominating colour] and then sort other shapes by themselves. In this case, restricted by the number of plastic bags, I sorted all sorts of cuts (charlottes, hex etc) in one bag, 2-hole beads in one, bugles in one and all the rest (drops, triangles etc) in the last bag. The baroque seeds are in that last bag too.

It took longer to work out where some shades should go than deciding to sort by colour. Some bead colours are just inbetween the major colour groups I sorted by: pink-orange, yellow-beige-brown, purple-pink, brown-pink, green-blue. With some beads, I simply ended up choosing the bag with the least beads in.

As you can see below, purple could need a second bag... The system works best when the bags aren't full. And it could also be useful to sort red-purples separately from blue-purples now that there are so many different shades of purple  in the stash.

But all in all, it's a good feeling today, looking at the sorted beads. Not the perfect solution, but way better than before. It might not be the most elegant storage system, but now I feel like I have -- for the first time in ages -- got better control over my stash. I can see what I have and don't have -- and finally sorting all beads by colour, I can see what colours I should ease up on buying and what colours I need to have more of. If I need a bead of a certain colour, all I have to do now is find the right bag, pull it up and have a look. If you haven't been in this situation yourself, you probably won't understand how it can feel so good to finally have structure, have a system. If you have been in my situation on the other hand, I'm sure you know exactly what I feel right now.

The only thing I don't like is the slight embarrassment of seeing -- and feeling, it's heavy to lift! -- how much seeds I own. Don't tell anyone how much you think I've spent to amass so much seeds! It's not all expensive shades of Delicas and exclusive metal-plated 15/0 charlottes. There's many basic japanese and czech seeds and even some cheap indian and chinese ones for embroidery. Still... I don't even want to guess how much money that box represents!

One last pic: this is the loose beads I found on the bottom of my old storage. Considering how many zip-lock bags have burst over the years, it wasn't too bad at all. And it's just cheaper beads, not any of the ones I barely dare touch as they're so exclusive or just plain expensive.


  1. Wow! Now you know what you have. And the beads are easy to find. I'd love to use the same system. Where did you find those zip bags? They look easy to open and close. Anna

    1. Those zipper bags are great. It's my sis that first bought them and now I find them very useful for all sorts of stuff. I got mine at ICA Maxi, in the same area where they have baking asseccories (plastic bags, muffin cups, cling wrap etc). The brand is Toppits and they're just called Zipper. I got the smaller 1 liter bags.

    2. Thanks, today is our grocery shopping day at ICA Maxi! Anna

  2. The last picture of the 'found beads' looks like it would make a good soup to me. It's got both spring colors, and earthy colors that go well together. It's your unintentional bead soup!

    1. Maybe I should take it as a challenge and try to do something with it? ;-)

      You know, half of the beads are probably from a bead soup I made of random leftover beads because I needed the zip-lock bags for other beads. Felt like five beads was too little for a bag when it was needed elsewhere (probably because a zip-lock ruptured or I bought seeds at Panduro where they sell them in non-resealable plastic bags). You can see a pic of what it looked like before I added the big matte lavender and pale lilac seeds to it here: Ironically, the opaque 11/0 pink and purple beads are from a bead mix I bought as a newbie and haven't used yet...

    2. Yes it looks like a nice soup. I don't like the ordinary zip-lock bags, they usually rupture. I hope that Toppits are better. The zipper on them looks very practical. Anna


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