Making: Jewelry Organizer

Up until now I have been storing my accessories in a jewelry armoire I got when I was 10 (that looks a lot like this), only mine is missing its legs because they broke off. I originally thought I could store my jewelry in my vanity but the drawers were too big to keep everything organized and visible.

I set out to create customized solutions for all my jewelry. My top priority is to have everything visible and in one place. I took care of necklaces with my display board so my next task was to organize my rings and small earrings - I have another project on my to-do list to display my big earrings but it won't accommodate hoops and studs.

I found the base for this project at a thrift store and I think it has the neatest back story. The piece was originally used as specimen storage in a science lab. Each drawer has space for 100 little test tubes that were run through a centrifuge. The rack is steel and the compartments are hard white plastic.

I wasn't crazy about the white sterile aesthetic so I worked some crafty magic. I decoupaged each box with brown paper lunch bags and mod-podge to give it a softer feel. It still has an industrial vibe because of the steel rack, but it no longer screams 'I came from a lab!'

Here is a view of the empty drawers before I customized them.

The top drawer is for my small earrings. Using pliers I removed all of the plastic prongs except for the ones I needed to support the dividers. This was very tedious work so I opted to abandon this technique for the other drawers. I used cardstock to create the dividers and fashioned the cushions out of scrap fabric - a sweater for plushness and linen for finish. The linen really works well because the open weave allows me to push my earring backs into the fabric to keep them straight and tidy.

The second drawer is for the gold and silver rings I don't frequently wear. I kept all of the plastic prongs but used unrolled cotton balls to create a padded infill. I'm not crazy about this technique, and I may redo it in the future, but it gets the job done for now.

The next three drawers hold my large collection of button rings. Again, I left all of the plastic prongs. I used more cardstock to make each divider to stand my rings up.

I still have four more empty drawers that can be filled with other accessories. My favorite thing about this project is that I can customize each drawer to suit the needs of my accessories but they still read as a cohesive unit from the outside. Another great thing was how cheap this project was. The storage case was only $8 and I did everything else with stuff I already had in my craft supplies.
I didn't break this down as a tutorial because the thrift store piece is one of a kind, but you can take the idea behind this project and apply it to any storage and organization project.
#1) Think outside the box. You would never guess lab equipment would make a good jewelry box so don't be afraid to spend some time digging through thrift stores, garage sales and antique shops.
#2) Use what you have laying around your home. Don't always feel like you need to buy a lot of stuff for a new project.
#3) Use items for something other than their intended purpose. Lunch bags as decorative paper? Sweaters and cotton balls as pillows? If you can make it work, go for it!

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