Time to ‘fess up. How big is your stash? And is it organised?
Do you keep storage boxes in front of cupboards in case the doors burst open and your treasures spill out?
Far too many of us wouldn’t necessarily know what’s in all our cupboards and boxes. So organising our materials has many advantages and pleasures – as well as being able to find what we want and gain space for more goodies, there is the fun of rediscovering materials forgotten at the back of the shelf.
Crafters of all varieties become inveterate collectors of boxes and tins because there is never enough storage
The first decision is what you are going to store your materials in, this may be a mismatched set of boxes, tins and trays but if you can afford it, investing in a set of boxes and trays that match and stack easily is worth it. A quick survey of tutors and students in the London Jewellery School studio, found a couple of popular storage options.
First up are Really Useful Storage Boxes which do exactly what it says on the tin or in this case on the useful plastic tray or tub. These are popular becayse they come in such a wide range of sizes from tiny – suitable for a portable single project – to large enough to stack your other boxes and trays inside. They even do bead trays.
Really Useful boxes are just that – they come in a wider range of sizes and are available with bead tray inserts
Apart from the range of sizes the Really Useful boxes get a thumbs up for three other reasons. They are translucent, so you have an idea what’s inside – we’ve all done the hunt for the right box of bits. They are stackable. And best of all the lids are locked down be the handle type attachments on the ends – so less risk of a major beads spillage. If you can’t afford a whole set right now, check your kitchen cupboards for any unused plastic food boxes with clip down lids.
Also handy are the mini beads trays that sometimes come with bead bundles from certain suppliers – these are great for sorting beads and stones into particular types such as if you have a range of pearls or different sizes of the the same semi-precious gemstones. And those lovely tin boxes you’ve collected can be for specific items as well as adding coulour and interest to your work space.
But if you have the resources to completely reorganise your workspace, you could take a leaf out of the book of LJS tutor Gail Florio who has invested in craft cupboards for her bijou home workshop.
Gail chose cabinets specifically designed for craft storage to organise her small workspace
Gail choose cupboards Storage4Crafts which supplies an range of cupboards which you can fit out with bead trays and other storage items – they even do cupboards that are designed to store the Really Useful boxes.
Another option we’ve found useful at the jewellery school is the Trofast kids’ room storage system from Ikea. These units have sliding plastic trays which you can remove completely to pop on your table. Great for wires, tools, stringing materials and much more.
But having your storage is only half the battle. You can have as many lovely boxes and useful cupboards as you like but if you don’t organise them, you will be no better off.
Labelling may sound boring but that and having a place for everything is what stops you losing materials to the forgotten stash pile or spending 20 minutes figuring out where you last had your files or memory wire cutters.
Good stash management is about labelling your boxes, having a place for all your materials and tools (and putting things back in that place) and, if you want to get really organised, a list of your materials which you update when you shop and when you make.
I’m sure some of you are groaning at the idea of a major stash sorting and labelling exercise but I have yet to find a jewellery maker who did actually enjoy taking everything out and organising it once they got started. After all, you get to look at all those lovely treasures.
And believe me, afterwards you will spend more time making and less rummaging – and even save money because you won’t be buying materials you already own but have forgotten about.