Daily Wire Tip Jan. 11: Organizing Wire Jewelry Supplies

By on January 11, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
January 11, 2010

Question:

How do you have your supplies organized in your workshop? I am trying to decide how to organize my supplies and can’t decide if it would be better to organize by type, size, color, gemstone or some other method. Could you provide advice on this?

Answer:

Loaded question! As you asked how I have my supplies organized, thus this answer: I use hardware organizers for my beads, which are separated into crystals, gemstone, metal and others. Each category has its own hardware cabinet and they are divided by color, where one row across is all pinks, one all blues, etc, and arranged from clear/white down to purples and then blacks, according to the order of a rainbow.

My metal beads and findings are in another hardware cabinet and divided by color and size heading down. First drawer is 2 and 2.5mm, the next 3mm and so on; clasps/toggles and ear wires, etc have their own drawers divided by color. For findings & metal beads I have small pieces of card stock labels taped to the front, inside of each drawer. (Beads I just look for the color through the drawer fronts.)

Cabs are all inside glass topped, knife display cases, organized by color and gemstones are (unfortunately) everywhere! Some are in individual baggies in a hardware cabinet (organized by color and type so blue topaz is separate from white topaz, etc), some are in trays of individual little gemstone boxes with see through tops and others are in their own boxes in the safe.

You can see Mary Bailey’s article, which includes some of the storage ideas our faculty uses in their own work spaces: https://wire-sculpture.com/jewelry-making-blog/1382/setting-up-your-jewelry-making-work-space/

And here you’ll see more ideas from Sherrie Lingerfelt on how to organize, label and store supplies: https://wire-sculpture.com/jewelry-making-blog/533/storing-small-supplies-for-travel/

I’ll bet that while you are organizing, you will find some really cool things that you forgot you had (and new design ideas will pop into your head) so be sure to have a notebook nearby and have fun!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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13 Comments

  1. avatar

    Cyndee Bower

    January 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Great question and answer as I suspect organization is a challenge for all of us with a substantial supply of stones and components! Thanks Dale – I especially think using hardware organizers is a stellar idea. I have been using the compartmentalized boxes, but can only see the front row of items in them – so will incrementally switch over to the hardware storage system.

  2. avatar

    Lea Ott

    January 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I have a bead cabinet with shallow drawers for my different colored beads. I keep semi-precious stones and crystals in bead boxes. They are separated by color and size.

    My tools are hung on a curtain rod mounted on the wall in front of my work table and my hammers are mounted on the wall also. I keep my wire in a flat file box separated with cardboard by size and in large zip-locks by metal. The metals I use the most are hung on nails under my tools, so I can reach them easily. I have a cup hook on the side of my table to hold my dremmel. The bits that I use the most are in cups on my table. I keep my dowels (for shaping ear wires) and files (for smoothing rough edges) in mason jars on my table. My table is an old drafting table. It has a tray in front and that’s where I keep my rouges to polish my metals. It also catches any runaway beads.

    I have a framed screen behind me on the wall for finished pieces that are ready to be re-inspected and carded.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm

      Wow Lea! You sound really organized! I love the screen behind you for finished items, waiting for final inspection. (Mine just lay on a velvet board on a side by my side, until they’re ready to be cleaned.)

  3. avatar

    mary

    January 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Oh goodness, a good question to ask. I use a variety of different containers to store beads, findings, and such in. The cabinets with pull out drawers, the notebook size plastic storage cases where you have a strip of connected boxes are what I use for all my Swarovski crystals. Each notebook is broken down by size and then colors and shade variances. At one of the hardware stores I found the neatest little plastic storage cases that had seperate snap shut cases inside of it. I use it to store findings by metals. I even use these for Bali silver beads and such. Last not not least, I have the clear plastic shoe boxes with lids that I store whole strands of gem stone beads in by color so at a glance I can see a color and then go look in the shoe box for sizes and shapes.

  4. avatar

    Krister

    January 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Good ideas I see from many of you. Currently, I have two 4 drawer storage bins, various old pill bottles, plastic covered shoe box bins, 2 wooden hat boxes, and covered bins to store components and such, all are see-through. It is a hodge-podge I want very much to organize better. The beautiful cabinets I’ve seen in mags are very costly, far out of my reach at the moment. I’m still looking for the ultimate cabinet and filing system. Dale’s is one I didn’t consider. I’ve seen those cabinets on sale for next to nothing new and old. New would be better as used are probably rusted. I have my eyes open now. Dale do you have some photos of your system to put online?

  5. avatar

    Marcia

    January 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Organization is the name of the game for me because I am a full-time RV\’er so my whole living/working area is 36 feet long and on top of that my husband and I are snowbirds! We not only need to worry about space but weight and weight distribution as well. All my beading supplies must be collapsible/stackable/stashable and that includes my workspace. I have about 14 large, clear, plastic boxes with changeable dividers (the kind fishers and crafters use) that stack for my bead storage and they are divided by bead type (pearls in one, metal beads in one, etc.). My Swarovski crystals are separated into different size clear flip-top boxes that come stored within a clear box and all 6 of these larger boxes fit into a clear plastic shoe box so I can easily find the color/size/style I\’m after. Cabochons and larger one-of-a-kind beads are in flat glass topped boxes and are stackable. My seed beads are in short and long tubes and are then stored in folding Beadsmith bead towers that fold flat. Findings are in clear connectable jars stored within clear snap-lock boxes. Stringing materials are in a large plastic \"drawer\" along with the odds and ends one accumulates when beading. My tools are a constant issue, though, because after trying several different systems I have gone back to the basic small toolbox. It\’s not perfect but at least they are all in one place. We store our silver wire in a plastic top-opening file box with each size wire in a marked folder. I have a plastic topped folding table (about twice as large as a TV tray) that is my workspace. I use jewelry trays with a flat inserts to hold my projects since I normally have several going at any given time. My books, catalogs and other reference materials are all together and that is my other \"issue\" because I\’m constantly finding more that I want to keep. It seems to work but you can be sure I am constantly refining both storage and workspace. AND, this doesn\’t even address my husband\’s lapidary and silversmithing hobby!!

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

      Wow Marcia – thanks! I lived in a 30ft RV for several years myself (with a hubby, daughter, boxer and a ferret) and although small space can be a challenge it really makes you simplify things!

  6. avatar

    grace lechuga

    January 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I find that ice cube trays help me organize my beads, findings and odd beads. I was lucky enough to retrieve a cabinet used in medical offices, that was about to be trashed. I keep several ice cube trays in each drawer. Since the drawers open all the way, I see what beads I have at a glance.

  7. Pingback: Storing Jewelry Supplies | Jewelry Making Instructions

  8. avatar

    Vicki

    December 26, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I have a lot of sterling silver wire. I store them in gallon zip lock bags (so as not to bend the wire) and they are sorted by size and shape (square, round, half round). I also put an anti tarnish strip in each bag. The I write the gage with large Sharpie on the outside – so I can see at a glance what it is. I found a 9 drawer cabinet at Ikea which is intended for paper crafts – so the drawers are not too deep and square. Then I put the zip locks in the drawers sorted by shape – all the round in one, square in another, etc. I have extra drawers, so I put all my copper wire in one and silver sheet in another.

    For gemstones, I found an awesome cabinet that has very shallow drawers and square dividers in them. I put the stones in them sorted by shape and size.

    I also use hardware drawers for findings.

    Beads? that is another story… a sad one, though. Not very organized.

  9. avatar

    Susan

    May 5, 2015 at 8:07 am

    I like to use the round coffee cans ,coffee creamers, oatmeal containers or freeze dried food cans to store my wires in. I label each one(with a label plus the tops too) and sort them out by type (copper, brass, silver, etc) and by gauge (some times a range of gauges i.e.:30 to 26 )and shapes (square, round, half round). It keeps their round coil shaped and I can seal the air out better but I do put a small piece of chalk in the silver and sterling silver ones. Then when I am woking with my wires I pull just the cans I need and put them back when done. Works easier of me.

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