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  • Deryn Mentock

storage secrets of a jewelry maker


So, you have every bead known to man, an avalanche of stones and all the tools. I mean...all the tools. Let's talk about organization! While I don't have all the answers, I do have a few methods for corralling some of that small stuff. Let me pass on a few storage tips that I've found helpful.

Beads: I used to do a lot of jewelry pieces with beads and I still love them, so I'm not giving them up any time soon. But, in order to find what I needed, when I needed it, and not after 2 hours of searching, I started storing them in plastic divided boxes. I got mine at Hobby Lobby but these are widely available. I found that some of them have a foggy plastic lid and some are more clear. Get the clear ones so you can really see what's inside. I've organized them by color so I can find what I'm looking for. Some of them are organized by type of stone; for instance, I have boxes for green turquoise and blue turquoise. If you want, you can stick notes into each compartment with cost and other info.

Stones: I have several vintage cabinets that are made up of shallow drawers. I've found these invaluable for storing stones. Again, I arrange them by color. Of course, it would be great to have the drawers labeled by color. But...I'm not THAT organized.

I've begun sticking my stones to cardstock, with doublestick tape, and labeling them with name and cost. This is a lot better than my old method of throwing them all in the drawer together!

Tiny stones: For 3, 4 and 5mm stones I got a vintage metal watchmaker's cabinet, from Etsy. It came with tiny glass vials which are just perfect for storing those small stones. The glass vials allow me to see the stones and I label them with name and size. I also store coordinating pre-made bezels this way.

Files: I found some vintage pipe stands that work great for storing files. Files must be stored separately so they aren't banging into each other and getting dull. Pipe stands are good for keeping them separate while at the same time, within arm's reach. Anything else that will fit into a stand is fair game, as well.

Saw blades: Another small, yet annoying thing to figure out how to store; saw blades. They're essential on a daily basis so have to be kept handy. I purchases an old test tube rack, with tubes. I bought corks separately so my tubes now have stoppers. These are the perfect way to store blades. You can label them with your label maker...I know you have one.

I may, or may not have a problem with dies. Don't judge. This is another great use for those vintage metal watchmaker's cabinets. When I say cabinet, I'm talking tabletop size. It's perfect for storing all those dies in...even the ones I never use.

Wire: I don't recall where I first heard this idea but I'm not the genius who thought it up. And, it is genius. At your local sporting goods store, or on the internet (what can't you find on the internet?) you should be able to find something called a worm binder. It's like a three ring binder, with a zipper and zip lock baggies. These bags are perfect for storing wire. I mark sizes with a sharpie, in the corner of each bag.

There's also a smaller version that I use for bezel wire. You could also store solder wire or sheets in this.

Solder chips: This may not be perfect, because if you drop it upside down, some chips are going to fly...but it's pretty darned good. This is another fishing thing. Who knew there were so many fishing things that we jewelry makers can use? I believe this is a fly case, for fishing flies. You don't have to know what that means to know that this works great for solder chips. I buy the pre-cut chips, so they're exceedingly small, but this little gadget keeps them separated pretty well. I love this for classes and I love the fact that my different solders are all in the same container...but separate.

Found objects: Jewelry boxes and vintage table top drawers are perfect for storing all those found objects and junk that you just had to have. Believe me, I had to have a lot of it. Which creates a storage dilema.

You don't want your rhinestone pieces banging around together too much so tucking them into a retro jewelry box is a good solution. I love the ones with velvet linings.

Muffin tins are also a great way to separate and store. Even better if they're vintage. Even better yet, if they fit into some of those drawer units.

My studio, in it's more lucid moments, is pretty well organized. I have several metal cabinet units, doors and drawers, that I picked up at a big box store. I also have several different, smaller, pieces from Rio Grande that help me keep my bench top a little more tidy, including the long benchtop organizer in this photo. I keep toothpicks, q-tips and other smalls in the little drawers and the pliers rack is handy, too.


So there you have the beginnings of organization for 2021. Best wishes to you, my friends, for this new year!


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