Beaders often make custom bead mixes for projects, and it can be difficult to estimate how many beads are needed. Hopefully you will never make the mistake I made of mixing WAY TOO MANY beads.
I was working on a cellini spiral necklace that used a bead mix for each of the four sizes of beads. I estimated pretty well for three out of four of the mixes, but somehow went way overboard on the size 11’s. If there are just a few beads left, and you don’t want to use the mix again, it may not be worth sorting them. Just throw them away or put them into one giant spare bead mix. However, if there are a lot of good beads there, you have no choice but to sort them and put them away.
- Beginning the sorting
This is a picture of the beads as I began sorting them. You can see that some are in dishes rather than on the mat. In the next few pictures, some of the piles of beads are off to the side in these dishes, so not all of the piles are showing.
What was I thinking mixing all of these beads?!
- Sort small amounts at a time
You can get a rough sort of some bead mixes using sieves and colanders, but with beads that are the same size, you need to hand sort them all. I find it easier to work with small amounts at a time, sorting into very small nearby piles. Then I drag them to the bigger piles. This small sort is done in the middle of the bead mat
- For efficiency, use something like this scoop.
If you are lucky enough to have long nails, sorting the beads will come easier for you. I am not so lucky! So, for more efficiency, I use something with a straight edge that is easy to handle, like this small scoop to drag the beads. Instead of trying to sort each bead as you come to it, concentrate on collecting one type of bead for a while, then switch to another type. You will know which bead to focus on because you will see a group of them close to the edge. Focusing on one bead type at a time saves the time it takes your brain to make the decision about where each bead goes. You totally focus on pulling out gold beads, for example, and it helps you work faster.
It also helps to have a cull pile. As long as you are looking at each bead, you might as well cull out the bad beads at the same time. I have a pile of culled beads at the bottom of my mat. I periodically throw them away just to keep them from getting annoying.
Finally, after FIVE HOURS of sorting, I am finally done!
- Five hours later and … Done!
You can see by the size of the piles that there are too many beads of each type to just throw the mix away.
- One of the piles – that’s a lot of beads!
Now I just have to sort through the other three mixes! Happy sorting.