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Storage For Beads.

Q: I need some advice regarding inexpensive, yet effective, storage for beads of all kinds. I have used plastic containers of all sizes, but it just seems to be more hassle, as I have to rummage for plastic containers to find what I need.

A: I usually head for the hardware store and look in the toolchest section. There are lots of different (and sometimes very large) plastic and metal chests with compartments for beads. You'll see a lot of pull-out plastic and metal chests with plastic dividers for each drawer/compartment. These work fine for large items, such as spools of thread, clasps, and chain, but smaller or thinner items will tend to slip under the dividers and co-mingle with the stuff in the next compartment. Also, the compartments aren't lidded, so you have to be kind of careful about how you move them. Fishing supplies (found mostly in sporting goods stores) also do a pretty good job of supplying what I need, especially the flyfishing stuff. I also got one of those plastic rollout thingees (it has lots of open compartments and rolls up tightly into an cylinder for traveling), but discovered that the stuff I wanted was always in the innermost compartment, which meant I had to unroll the whole thing - it's really long. If you have a 'Container Store', 'CostPlus', or 'Pier One' (although Pier One is kinda expensive) nearby, check them out for small plastic and glass jars, boxes and other receptacles, and use those to divide the relatively large toolbox compartments into sealed, bead-sized containers. I keep small quantities of under-8mm beads in little glass screwtop vials I got at the 'Container Store' for about 60 cents apiece - eight of them fit nicely into a single compartment in my toolchest. I usually bring along my tackle box, toolchest or whatever, to make sure that the small vials I choose fit inside easily. For traveling with a sead bead project, I bought a traveling watercolor box. It has little compartments for paints that are just right for scooping out beads, and a foam-lined lid to keep things in place; cost about $9 at an art supplies store. I glued an additional layer of foam inside the lid, which seals each of the open compartments when I close the box, and keeps beads from spilling all over the place every time I pick it up. If you have a craft room or beading space where you can hang things on the wall, I have found that spice racks make great bead containers. The one my husband recently bought for me at a yard sale, has bottles with srews on the lids. It also has a door on the front of the cabinet, and about 20 bottles in all. This makes them easily accessable, and makes it easy to see what beads you are looking for.