Bead Inventory: “Oops, I Already Have These Beads!”

We who love to bead often have jars, tubes, strings, hanks and packets of beads tucked hither and yon to have on hand when inspiration strikes. But how do we keep track of so many different beads?

Organize Seed Beads in DrawersToo often I used to come home from the bead store, excited by my new purchases, only to find that I’d bought beads I already had stashed in some forgotten nook.

So I bought a number of good-sized plastic drawers and filled each one with a different color of seed bead. This has helped tremendously. Now all of my seed beads are in some sort of order. If I need olive green size 15/0 beads, I can rifle through the “Green” drawer until I find what I need. If it’s not there, then I am fairly certain I can go out and buy it without duplicating what I already have. I store all of my seed beads in tubes of all different sizes – many of them recycled. I know some beaders like to keep their bead stash in more uniform receptacles of the same size and shape.

I store Czech glass beads in divided plastic boxes – flowers and leaves in one box, other shapes in another. I don’t bother dividing these by color, since they are fairly easy to keep separated in their little compartments. Since I use Czech glass flowers and leaves in much of my free-form bead embroidery, I like to keep a small plastic bag of them along with a few charms in my bead kit. I take my kit with me to Harlequin’s Bead Circle and my booth at the Eugene Saturday Market, so I always have a ready project to work on.

I recently became enamored of some very tiny little 15/0 size beads at the Harlequin Beads store and bought a number of hanks. When I was there for Bead Circle the next week, I decided to buy more, but couldn’t remember which ones I had already bought. I solved the problem that night by sewing a few of each color I had to an index card. When I went in the next day, I took the card with me and could see at a glance which beads I already had.

Drawers for Organizing Beads

Other beaders I know use the “string method,” where they string a few of each color onto a long piece of thread, then tie it to make a large loop. This “inventory necklace” goes with them to the bead store each time. The only problem with this method is that you need to add new beads each time you buy them, and you need to remember to break off any beads that you run out of.

So, how do you keep track of your beads? Please leave a comment and give us your thoughts.

by Cenya

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