Staying Organized - Tray Simple

How do you organize your work(s) in progress? My first year of beading, I worked on one piece until the last bead slid into place and the final knot was tied. Once I started taking classes and participating in challenges and hops, I needed a system to stay organized while I juggled multiple projects.

My solution came in the form of trays from BeadSmith.  At 11”x14”, they can accommodate most everything needed for even my most ambitious designs, although I wish they were a little deeper than half an inch. Best of all, they’re stackable.  I have limited myself to five – one for my monthly Bead Journal Project , one for my latest class, two for challenges and one for experimenting.
Great for taking a project from room to room when I'm seeking inspiration, they also travel well - just slip one into a two-gallon storage bag, and you're ready to go.

I store my trays on a small built-in desk in my bead room, and gather all the information for each project in its own folder.  The pattern if I’m using one, challenge rules and deadlines, inspiration and colorway photos, bead receipts in case I need to purchase more of something (also great for pricing, if I plan to sell the piece), any sketches and notes of design ideas. That way, I never uncover a bottom tray I’ve set aside for several weeks (months!) and wonder, why are these triangle beads here?
My top tray today holds all the beads I’ve been pulling together for next week’s A Time to Stitch Hop. It’s a beautiful afternoon in the mid-seventies – tray and folder in hand, I’m heading outside to the deck to make some design decisions and get started!


  1. Love the size of these trays and your organization of your projects! I use the 8.5x14 size trays from Rio Grande, putting work in progress and ideas into them. The folder idea is great; I wish I were that organized! Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. I use small plastic boxes with secure lids. I take out one project at a time. Having said that, this weekend I replaced the tray that I have been using for years with a bento box system from Target. Largish storage box on the bottom with dividers to catch a lot of beads and supplies and a tray that sits snuggly on top to capture the things I am actually using at the moment.

  3. Tray simple ... I see what you did there. Ha!

    Nice idea - I would spill them, though. Wonder if those leftover wooden jewelry display boxes (shadow box style) with the hinged, see-through lids would be effective for me? I have a few ... will have to try! They might be too heavy/bulky. Something to ponder.

  4. Oh man - I need these trays! What a fantastic idea. I'm working on my Time to Stitch project as well. I could use some help! First time ever trying herringbone! I've been meaning to for quite some time, but each time I try I rip it out and move on to another project - ha! this time I pushed myself to finish. No laughing please :)!

  5. This is a great idea. Last year, I bought a bunch of pink cafeteria trays from Target and they are about the same size and depth but yours have a much better look.

  6. I use cookie sheets - actually, I think they are technically called "jelly roll pans" because of the shallow edge around them. I love the idea of using the display trays! Then you know they will securely stack - if I have too many projects going at one time, my stack starts slipping!!
    Thanks for sharing this great idea :)