Bead boxing

My third New Year’s resolution was to find a better way to store and organize my beads and bracelets. This was my most recent system (and I use the term system very lightly).

It was a good plan in theory: storing the beads on the large binder rings allowed me to slide the beads most of the way around the rings to take off just the bead(s) that I needed, and storing the rings upright in the foam block allowed me to see all my beads at a glance to select the ones that I wanted. In practice, it fell apart: the rings worked decently when I was mostly building mini combinations, but didn’t work for fuller combinations, and it wasn’t ideal to have to perform a balancing act to carry the box of bracelets and foam block of beads around the house when I wanted to have some bead play. And, as you can see, the box quickly became a jumbled mess between the bracelets and random beads that it attracted as I created and undid combinations. More often than not I had more beads off rings than on, and I felt like I could never find the beads that I was looking for.

So, taking all the faults of my old system into consideration, my criteria for my new bead organization system included:

  1. An area to store combinations that are made up, but not on a bracelet
  2. An area to store beads that are not currently in combinations
  3. An area to store bracelets
  4. Everything in one layer so that I can see it all at a glance
  5. Portable so that I can carry it to where the best light is

Should be easy, right?

Well, once I started using my Stacking Jewellery Case for my X by Trollbeads links and bracelets and I didn’t have to worry about them, it actually became a whole lot easier. I’m a bit surprised that it took me this long to get it all together. It’s still not perfect, but it’s certainly better than what I was using!

The glass-topped box was something that I had purchased a while ago for another project that never quite turned out, and I had even looked at it when I was originally storing the beads on rings, but the rings didn’t fit upright in the box. When I gave up on the idea of continuing to use the rings, I took the box out of storage again for another look. The rods are double-pointed knitting needles with O rings on the ends to keep beads from sliding off when I don’t want them to, but also allowing me to move beads off from either side when I do need a bead off.

One of the surprising things about laying out all my beads and bracelets this way was how many bracelets I had! My original plan had assumed a need for more bead storage than bracelet storage so it included a full column of wide rods on the left and a single column of bracelet spots along the right. Once I started laying it all out, I realized that I had more bracelets than I thought and I couldn’t fit as many bracelet spots into the space. Having only one column meant that I would have to double up bracelets in many spots, which I thought would lead to trouble in the future. I next switched to a plan that had two shorter columns of rods at the top, with two rows of bracelet spots at the bottom, plus two long spots for my leathers. Since I wanted to stay within the glass-topped box that I already had, I was limited by the length of rod that I could fit in there and I couldn’t get the shorter rods that I needed to make two columns. So, I modified the plan to work with what I could get. Having a single column of rods most of the way down and creating bracelet spots at the bottom and side is the best configuration for what I have right now, but will be an interim solution until I can find the shorter rods. At that point I’ll probably move back to my two-column idea and also redo the racks that the rods are on to move the rods a little closer to each other so that I could fit more rods in the same amount of space. And one day (hopefully sooner rather than later) I’ll replace the Starbucks lids with something a bit better ;)

All, in all, I’m happier with this system than my previous system, so it’s still a win. I’d prefer to have more rods so that I could have better separation of combinations that are made up, but not on a bracelet (criteria 1) and beads that are not currently in combinations (criteria 2), but for now this will do.

My collection also looks tiny now. If only my husband thought the same! :D


  1. Genius!

    Yours is by far the most creative solution I’ve seen and I *love* the coffee cup lids!

    Btw have you done anything to the infrastructure on your blog? It’s loading up much more quickly that it used to :)

    Mars xx

  2. Thanks! :D I would love something that is a bit softer than the lids, but haven’t found anything yet that is quite right. I found some silicone rings at one store that would have been a good size, but they only came in hot pink and neon green so … the lids will stay for a bit longer. ;)

    I love being able to see everything though! The jumbled mess I had before certainly affected my desire for bead play.

    I had wondered if I was the only one who had issues with my site being ridiculously slow before! My web host moved me to a new server about a month ago so I think that must be what solved the issue. I’m glad that others are fining it faster as well now :)

  3. Perhaps you can line the lids with something? Although I confess I do love them as they are! I’m the same with bead play, being able to see all the beads really helps me when it comes to making new combos up.

    Your site was very slow before (but worth the wait) but now it just loads normally & super fast which is great!

    Mars xx

  4. The bump in the lids can be annoying too, but seeing how long it took me to finally replace my previous jumbled system, I suspect I’ll have the lids for quite a while! :D

    If/when I do replace them, I may go with something a bit smaller so that I can fit five bracelet spots in since only my bangles really need the current space that I’ve allotted for each bracelet spot.

  5. Love your organization. Last year I started out with 5 beads. This year starting in April and stumbling across a Trollbeads store closing I more than doubled my collection. And then I stumbled across a Novobeads clearance sale, and then there was the Trollbeads 25% off before price hike. Let’s just say my collection now needs organization too. haha.

    1. Thanks :) It’s funny how beads can multiple when you aren’t really looking, isn’t it ;D My regular bead collection didn’t grow too much with the closing sales, but my X by Trollbeads collection certainly blossomed during that time! I’m hoping to stay within this box for a while though, with the few small tweaks that I mentioned. And even those tweaks are pretty low on my To Do list since this is working pretty well as-is. I thought the first thing I’d want to replace was the lids, but I think my first task (when I get around to it) will be to make room for at least one more rod so that I can define combinations a bit better.

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