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Saturday Share – Recycle, Re-Purpose, Re-Use!

January 10, 2015 , In: General, Inspiration, Mixed Media, Studio
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If  you are like me… a jewelry designer, component maker, art bead hoarder, project procrastinator with lots of unfinished pieces, and on a bare-bones budget, you may find affordable storage to be a challenge.  I have lots and lots of bead boxes and shelving, but since my main studio is upstairs, and my family is downstairs (and I like to spend time with the fam), I do a lot of portable creating.  
After looking around for an affordable solution, I found that going through the recycling bin or the kitchen cupboards led to some great storage/organizing solutions, especially for the short term! I thought I would share a few with you today.  Pardon my mess;)
Above are plastic food trays in 2 different sizes.  These are so versatile and useful.  I have one that has scrap silver, one for scrap copper, some have unfinished projects, some just have odds & ends from cleaning up my work space.

Plastic trays from frozen entrees for kids are cool, since they have little compartments for several things.  Unfortunately, different types are different sizes so they don’t stack.

These are some of my favorites..they are from Lunchables and they stack so nicely!  You can use these to separate different projects that might be in different stages of completion. I have quite the collection of these hiding here and there!

These are also from Lunchables, but a different type. Perfect for small collections or projects. Okay, don’t judge…my 13yo really likes the pizza ones and you know how picky they can be sometimes!

Another favorite, water bottle caps.  Perfect for tiny beads that you don’t want to get mixed up with everything…they are small enough to put into one of the above trays to add another level of separation!  I like adding one to my project trays to collect little wire snips, especially sterling!

Here we have the ultimate poor woman’s organization tray…the styrofoam egg carton!  Again, totally stackable, perfect for when you are cleaning your area and are separating stuff.  I put these in a couple of drawers on my rolling work station in the kitchen.  Its always fun to pull them out and find little treasures you forgot you stashed there. Obviously, this is not for heavy beads, but once a tray gets bent or broken, just recycle it and eat some more eggs for the next tray!

Ferraro Roche, anyone?  No, not fine assorted chocolate confections…

The perfect little nooks for unfinished things, or little collections of beads you hope to work with, and bonus, there is a lid! This and the egg carton scenario were actually inspired by Heather Powers’  Muffin Tin Challenge, but I like to actually use my muffin tins for baking!
Hubby and I shop at Costco a lot and buying things in bulk leaves you with a lot of pretty sturdy boxes.  These 2 top my aforementioned rolling shelf and hold my tools.  The square box also has an anvil and a steel block that makes it heavy enough to stay put!
When I decided my post today was going to cover this topic, I polled my AJE teammates to see if they used any recycled or re-purposed items in their studio.
Lindsay loves using the plastic lids from Dannon yogurt cartons to keep those pesky tiny seed beads corraled.  After she is done, the lid is flexible enough to fold and pour the beads back in their bag without creating a mess!

Linda repurposes these little flexible silicone cups intended for cooking for tiny beads as well.

Linda also uses these adjustable spice racks for storing glazes.
Several folks like using inexpensive cookie sheets for beading – they stack nicely!
Jenny uses antique dishes and cigar boxes for all types of purposes in her studio.
Lesley likes to recycle these tubs that used to hold washing liquid tabs – perfect for 1 lb of clay!
How about you?  Do you have an interesting use in your studio for recycled or repurposed items?  We would love to hear!

Melissa Meman

Melissa Meman is a mixed-media jewelry artist and owner of Melismatic Art Jewelry. She loves all things metal... fabrication, fold-forming, enameling, but has recently been drawn into metal clay and polymer clay! Her Melismatic Morsel line features pendants, charms, and more in all her favorite mediums. Melissa lives in Frederick, MD with her husband and son and dreams of retiring from her day job, and resorting to singing and hammering/finishing metal for a livelihood!
  1. Reply

    I use chocolate trays all the time, they are perfect for storing different types of beads during a project and also when I take classes at home

  2. Reply

    Melissa, what a wonderful mind-expanding post. I use glass food preparation cups (sort of like big custard cups) to hold the different beads I'm stringing and the spacers separate.

    I have two kinds of pre-made food containers that do stack. I use them to keep things to be sanded on the counter near the stove so I can use odd moments to sand my polymer. Cooking, waiting for the microwave, etc.

    Thanks again for this great post.

  3. Reply

    This is a great post full of tips! A friend gave me a bunch of baby food containers – plastic rectangles with lids perfect for separating beads during projects as well as making a small project portable or just storing parts together until I am ready to work.

  4. Reply

    I save all of my certs pins. I sometimes use them for shipping and sometimes to store beads.

  5. Reply

    I too recycle containers. I use the trays from the bottom of pop boxes for larger projects. Since I do not drink pop I get mine at the grocery store for free.The egg carton idea is great.

  6. Reply

    I have used the round lids from ice cream tubs for a long time. They are a little larger than the yogurt lids and hold a little more.

  7. Reply

    I like the plastic trays from manicotti, if you put two together they are sturdier.

  8. Reply

    I use the vases of my face cream,aftrer washing them clean,for storing beads.

  9. Reply

    Melissa, I shared your blog post on FaceBook with the members of the Greater Birmingham Bead Society (Alabama). We're always looking for tips about organization — thank you!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Wendy! You know, I was born & raised a Bama girl!

  10. Reply

    So many creative ideas here. Thanks for gathering all this tips.

  11. Reply

    Thanks for the ideas. I have been working on organizing my jewelry and clay studio areas and I can use all the help I can get! I will be glad when my annual-early-year-organizing is complete and I can get back to creating!

  12. Reply

    I love the idea of the lunchables containers! I have used the muffin tins for projects but find them to be not practical for long term use. The lunchables storage units could be easily stored and carried around. I also like that idea of using bottle caps for tiny beads. Thanks for all the tips!

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