My New Jewelry Design Studio: Need Your Best Tips Please

by Random.
(Ohio USA)

question-mark-maroon-on-blue-sky-green-leavesHey all, I’ve been selling jewelry for a couple of years now but I put my business on hiatus since last fall because I’ve decided to open an online store and I’ve taken some time off to get some supplies together and reorganize so my online business can run as smoothly as possible.

Here’s the problem, my current space has become so chaotic due to other family members invading my space with other things…. It’s so bad that I haven’t been even able to enter my workspace without having a panic attack….

So I’ve recently decided to dismantle and relocate my jewelry area to a new corner in the house. In the process I’m going to reorganize and invest in some new shelving, drawer organizers, etc…

The new layout I have planned will have two 6ft banquet tables, one against a wall with shelving and drawers on top and the other will be parallel to it but I’ll try to deep it clear for working on and I’ll be in between them on a spinning desk chair. I also have a 10 drawer rolling cart that will go next to one of the tables.

I’m just wondering if anyone has any tips or an organizing system or tool that has become a must have in your jewelry space?

Any rookie mistakes of buying an organizer that looked good but was completely useless?

Random Acts of Jewelry

FREE - Get 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks

Get Rena's 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks, plus the Jewelry Making Journal Newsletter - all for FREE.

We Respect Your Email Privacy

  • Sarah S. says:

    I am a big fan of peg boards for holding all your tools. Makes them easy to see and access.

    Also, invest in a label maker. That way, you can have things tucked away in boxes and drawers, but still know at a glance what is in them.

    Set up a dedicated space in which to take pictures. When selling online, pictures will make or break you, so set up to do it right from the start.

  • dawn piepenburg says:

    I bought a large, round, desktop pencil holder for a lot of my tools. You can see everything at a glance and it twirls so the tools are easy to reach.

    Also, I use hanging jewelry bags for various specialty items. For instance, I have one for all my Vintaj parts; one for my Via Murano parts; one for Nina Designs, one for all my findings. You can see at a glance what you have, you can fold them up or hang them up as part of your studio decor, or hang them in your closet. In addition, on trips I make jewelry while my husband drives and they are work wonderfully in the car –compact to carry, easy to see what you need. Hope this helps — Making jewelry is definitely addictive.

  • Lynda says:

    My husband is out in the garage right now working on my new jewelry bench. And has attached a large framed piece of peg board to the back. I’m investing in a variety of peg board accessories to get the tools and gadgets up off my work table, but within easy reach. One is a magnetic tool bar that will be down low to hold all the pliers, nippers, and such. Purchased at Harbor Freight.

  • Kathy Hodges says:

    The best investment I made as far as organizing my beads was a wooden unit with drawers and plastic sectioned inserts from Best Craft Organizer (I think that’s the name of the company – they advertise in Bead Style and other mags). It’s well made and houses my beads beautifully.

  • Susan says:

    This may not be a storage item, but because I work full time and create jewelry in my spare time, I have had to find a way to keep my “in progress” projects safe and separate. I may be inspired or have commissioned work to do and projects “in progress” have to go on a back burner. I have a stack of old fashioned lunch trays and line them with that spongy shelf liner to keep beads from rolling. I then have a section on my wall that I put shelf brackets and the trays fit on there, instead of on my work table where my kitties have a tendency to invade, scattering beads everywhere! (I get the best ideas on this site! Thanks, all!)

  • For me, organization with labeling is key. I recently switched from large, 8×11 inch drawers to smaller 5.5×7 inch drawers. These smaller drawers work much better than the larger drawers which became weighed down with too many beads and findings. If you need more than one drawer for something, that’s fine – just don’t forget to label them (I have five drawers of buttons). I have found that I don’t use items that are stored away from my workspace.

  • Antoinette says:

    I just can’t do without my 10 drawer color organizer I purchased from Michael’s. These drawers are in colors 2 red, 2 blue, 2 purple, 2 green, and 2 orange all the primary colors I use. When I find a nice sale I stock up on the beads and when I get home I just sort them by color and tuck them in these drawers. When I’m ready to bead I just choose the primary color and its right there all sorted for me. I’ve also divided the red drawer to hold my black and my white beads. It’s so quick and easy!!!

  • Peggy Porretta says:

    I’ve found a convenient and inexpensive storage unit is an over the door shoe holder. The pockets are large enough to hold tools, as well as beads, wire and just about anything else. No installation needed!

  • Cathy says:

    I use pipe stands to organize my tools. The pliers hook right into them. You can find them at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales…

  • Cindi says:

    Keep the Beads In
    I found it frustrating to be working on a project and have my beads roll off the table and on the floor (into carpet) never to be found. I got some quarter round wood strips and glued them to the edge of the table and now they stay inside. The edge doesn’t get in my way because I don’t rest my wrists on the table when I am working.

  • Billie Jean says:

    The best purchase I made was a desk light with sections at its base that holds my tools and glasses (it has 5 sections in the base. love it) I also got a small stacked drawers from WalMart that fits perfectly under my table and is right at my right side for easy access to many beads and other things. Use the space under the table for storage. Oh one more thing, place a small calendar somewhere within reach, so you will be able to look at it and find dates you need to know. Have fun with your new space.

  • I have a very narrow shelf made with strapping. It’s about 5′ tall and about 4′ wide. The shelves, there are many, are at different heights and hold my wire spools, enameling supplies, storage containers some small tools etc. and it fits behind the door where I otherwise wouldn’t be able to use. If you go to my blog at the above address, check out my studio before and after and you can see it. I also use peg board for my hammers, and lunch trays lined with velum to keep beads in place on separate projects.
    I also bought 2 units from They hold the 1″ or 2″ bead trays. I sort my beads by color and label the front of the tray, then I know which tray I need when I’m designing. Good luck on your new space. When my studio gets so it’s causing me anxiety, I can only blame myself.

  • Jeanine says:

    Sort and organize your tools and supplies before you buy. It has taken me several tries before I hit something that works…but there’s still room for improvement! My favorite storage tip is for wire…get an accordion style divided file and label it with your guages. I have one for sterling and one for silver-filled. I have copper separate because I can’t put the spools in the accordion file.
    I also use the ArtBin satchel system – I have two of the “cubes” that the plastic cases slide into like drawers. I have separate ones for silver beads/cones, silver findings, gold filled beads and findings (not enough to warrant two boxes), pearls, glass beads (2 boxes), copper wire, stringing material (softflex, rattail cord, leather, silk), and so on. Sign up for Joann Fabric’s mailing list and buy them when they are 50% off.

  • Kathi says:

    I bought the Project Table from Pottery Barn a couple years ago & it has served me well. It is counter height so I use an upholstered bar stool or can stand to work if I get tired of sitting. The setup comes with 3 pieces, tabletop, & two sets of cubbies that the tabletop rests on. There are 9 open cubbies on each side. After reading the comments here I plan to buy a labeled (been using handwritten stickers) & an over the door shoe holder.
    Love the ideas & comments on Rena’s website

  • I’ve found photo of great studios (not always jewelry) on Pinterest.

    Soon to be selling our home of 20 years, I’ll be setting up a new studio too. This time it’ll be from the groud up, as the buyer wants all the furniture in my studio. This means cabinets and shelving so I’ll be buying new.

    Hey Rene, how about a collection of photos of jewelry studios? Let’s see where jewelry making is taking place!

  • Thanks to all for sharing such great tips and insights!

    Dennise, thanks for the suggestion! We do have a category here at JMJ on Jewelry Studios – and I welcome more studios (and photos) to be shared in it!

    Everyone loves a virtual visit to another artist’s digs. 🙂

  • Random says:

    Thanks everyone for all the great tips, keep em coming. I got my shelves and drawers and I started the organization process but I still have a ton of work left to do.

    I’ll be sharing my studio pics when I’m done organizing.

  • shelves with photo boxes – labeled by color – with ziplock bags of individual beads inside (easier to use than divider boxes that are hard to get small beads out of)

  • Caron Lambert says:

    I agree with Kathy Hodges. I have the desk and two rolling craft storage carts from Best Craft Organizer. They hold everything I need.

    I labeled the front of each drawer with what is inside using my trusty label-maker, and I’m all set. I organized by bead type: lampwork, Czech glass, Swarovski crystals, Swarovski pearls, fibers, beading wire, wireworking wire, etc.

    The drawers are 2-3 inches tall and fit a variety of containers. The furniture is not inexpensive, but it was a one-time expense, and the company is fabulous to work with. I store findings and spacers on the desk top in parts drawers I purchased at Lowes Home Center.

    I have a question though…does anyone organize by color instead of type? How does that work for you? I’ve often thought of changing to that method.

  • Nicole Green says:

    I use a dowel for reels of beading wire, hemp & anything else that fits on it. I have a metal exterior door to my shop, so I had 3 old sets of curtain rods with magnetic mounts that I hang on the door. I use clothes pins to secure plastic bags of beads to the rods. I have another rod with beads at the back of my work table. I line up the beads according to color. It is a small shop, but i can reach for anything from where I sit. Organization is very important if you have a large selection of beads.

  • If your space is small you can make an expensive shelving unit with strapping. It’s only about 2″ deep so will fit nicely behind a door. Plan the shelving unit prior to purchasing the strapping, so you’ll know how much to buy. My shelving unit is 48″ H, 32″ W. The very top is a decorative board about 4″ deep. You can make your shelf height to what ever you need. I’ve posted on Rena’s site so you can see the shelf here. Also Truvia containers make great storage jars. If you use Truvia, natural sugar, then it’s real cheap to cut the label off, wash, and store what you need. You’ll see them on my shelves.

  • Elaine King says:

    On the back of my workbench I have cubby shelves for keeping plastic organizer boxes. I used a pre-built shoe-organizer, it came from the master closet of a home that we remodeled. It was originally floor to ceiling height, and about 24″ wide, the depth is just right for shoe boxes, and perfect for the organizer boxes. I cut two units from the height, to fit between my desk and the window sill above it, then placed them side by side. This makes the boxes readily accessible, rather than stacked on a shelf as they were previously. Whatever I wanted, was always at the bottom of the stack. I have seen something similar in “mail slot” organizers for offices, and paper shelves for scrap-booking. An adjustable goose-neck lamp sits on top for nighttime working. I also use a spinning desktop pencil-etc holder for my most used tools. The handles straddle the sides, making them easy to get to with just one free hand. I like to use several jewelry making trays, for stacking the works-in-progress, it keeps everything together until I get back to the project..

  • Susan Adams says:

    I like to store my seed beads in the tubes they come in, so I can retain the labeling and pricing info from each place where I purchased the beads. I also find it easier to “play with” my bead colors by switching tubes around on my mat until I find color combos I want to work with for a project. Therefore, to store all the tubes, I use the tin cans that Pepperidge Farms Pirouette cookies come in. Yes, I have eaten a lot of cookies to get all the cans I needed, but it was worth it! 🙂 The cans are tall and hold a lot of tubes, and are a perfect fit. I spray-painted all the cans a color I liked (to cover the cookie marketing) and then printed out nice, vintage-looking labels on sticker stock paper to label each can. I have one can for each color family, so my labels are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink, Brown, Black, White, Grey, and Metals. I have also discovered that the plastic containers that Crystal Light type drink mixes come in are the same perfect size to fit tubes, and the packaging label comes right off the plastic containers. They are smaller, and are great for taking several tubes for a project on a road trip, or to just keep things combined for a project if you put it away for a while. Just a couple of ideas. 😉

  • Susan Couillard says:

    I use old VHS cassette boxes to store findings, they are labelled by color. The size is perfect and they are stackable. Thank your for the wonderful storage / studio solutions.

  • Joy says:

    I love all these suggestions; however, what if my space is small and limited. Currently, my beads have taken over, I have them in almost every room in my 2bdrm condo…OMG! I crave for a workable solution, and yes I am officially a bead hoarder.

  • allison says:

    I use a wonderful wooden map chest for the gemstone beads – divided by color. By the time I could afford another they weren’t selling the same size (Home Decorators still has the larger ones, but I can’t fit those in). I have found that drawers and boxes must be shallow, or things get buried. For all the rest, after trial and error, I went to Ikea and bought these in the children’s section – I bought the shelves I wanted, and then stored everything in old cigar boxes, labeled, that I got cheap from a local liquor store chain that sells cigars. It makes it all both organized and pretty. A friend bought the plastic bins instead of shelves for these frames, and loves them for her larger tools and supplies. For a work surface I mostly use a small computer desk – for anything involving sawing/fire/heat I move outdoors. Cats, and the room is open to the rest of the house. (If you have cats, you know what that means. It’s just safer for everyone if I do those things outside).

  • Judy Grum says:

    I use plastic boxes and label them with a grease pencil/china marker. This works well when you need to change (erase) the name of the contents. You can just use you finger or a paper towel.

  • Thanks for that great labeling tip, Judy! That will be very handy for my setup! 🙂

  • Nancy G says:

    I am NOT a neat beader! But, I do best when colors are out in front, on my work table, along with different wires, etc. the colors I daze on give me sensational color combos. For space. A few years ago I visited a Salvation Army store and browsed through their furniture. I found a big old hutch-type wall unit. It has glass door so I can see my goodies through them. I kept one half with the original shelves and the other side I took the shelves out and screwed in wire tie racks upside down to hang all my chains on. Below, are two sets of hutch draws with two draws each. Stores a good portion of my equipment.

  • Linda Erickson says:

    We moved to a small 2 bedroom home without a basement or extra storage room. Recently I made my first dedicated work area (in 10 years of beading) out of the 6 foot closet in the spare bedroom! It includes a 4 foot work table, tons of shelving and even an area to have my lite box readily available! I use a lot of divided plastic fishing tackle boxes to store my components, small rectangular dishes along the wall edge of the table to hold my wire, magnetic strips on the wall to keep my tools at hand, an led strip light mounted on the underside of one of the shelves to give me the needed light and an armless task chair which slides under the table. All boxes are labeled with my ever-present label maker. My in-process work can stay on the table and I can close the bi-fold doors so no one is the wiser that I might have something going on behind them. I love it!

  • My favoriate storage for my workbench is a kitchen carousel I got from the thrift store which is on a lazy susan. I keep all my hand tools in there sorted by sections, as well as my go to hammer, files and a few other regularly used items. Everything is within arms reach, easily seen and organized.

  • Karen Craig says:

    I purchased 2 (so far…) of the clear plastic bead boxes that close together, creating a handle at the top. I bought these at JoAnn’s in the jewelry dept. You can move the dividers around to create the size space that you need for the beads. For me, I sort everything by color. I have lots of different sizes of beads in each box; I just make sure that the beads in each box will have the same cost for creating jewelry. That means that I have a ‘topped-out’ price for each bead. For instance, I use 50 cents per bead, knowing darn well that many of them were only pennies per piece. I know I am making money when pricing my pieces because I just add up the number of beads used at 50 cents each. One of a kind beads and those more expensive are stored in their bags with a piece of paper thrown inside that has the total expense of the beads. These bags are kept in a separate clear box. Color is how I create, so storing them this way is easy. I just open up the boxes, one on each side of me, with my beading mats and beading tray between them. I’m in heaven…

  • Diana Pucci says:

    Home Talk is a DIY Web site. Once there search for storage, art storage, Work room, etc….There are a ton of people with photos and instructions for what and how they created their spaces. Some have made do with a Closet. It all depends on what you do, how much materials you have and the room needed to keep it all organized and accessible. There is bound to be something for everyone. Good luck keeping the family members in check and out of your space.

  • Kathie L says:

    All of these ideas are amazing! What I have found that works best for me (of course, Rena gave me the ideas) is clear plastic shoe boxes. I put the gems in plastic bags and arrange by color and metal types together in plastic bags. I also use a pegboard for my tools.

    I’ve tried many/many ways and these work best for me. Good luck – I look forward to seeing your success!!!…

  • JeanBH says:

    Wow! I get great ideas from this Journal. I am like Susan above. Working on one project, then getting an order for something else. Thanks for the idea of the lunch trays and shelves for work in progress. This would keep the trays out of my working area. Thanks,

  • >