Be prepared!

My studio reorganization is now complete. I went through every single box, prison  8-O, drawer, everything. Wow. I am impressed with myself! Over the weekend I am going to film an ‘interview’ of myself and my space and reveal all I have done. This upcoming post will have a giveaway of some Fuglies (defined as a Swear word+ Ugly, and used, in this case, to describe some cloth I no longer want but did dye, stamp, resist and otherwise embellish). The stack is about a foot tall. That post will also talk about a 4 week free class that I will be conducting next month. I would love for each and every one of you to join along in this, so please stay tuned.

On Wednesday when I tackled my fabric bins, I was nervous. I tried to tackle this last month and got totally overwhelmed and put all the bins back in their place. Somehow, in my mind, this part of the studio was a huge mess. It was not.

I like to make cloth per project, I purchase per project, I don’t maintain a stash by any definition that we could both agree upon and if we were to exchange stash, you would probably be bummed out. Me? I would be jazzed! I definately think I would be getting the better end of the deal. But still, I went through every bin and reorganized them according to color and type of cloth contained within the box. The great thing about this project is that I washed cloth that had been printed, worked and created. I found some real gems!

I will do a posts about the pieces I unearthed.

In the meantime, I took out a project I was working on prior to signing the contract for Dreaming From the Journal Page, The 20. If you would like to browse some posts about this project, click here. I will be using these pieces in addition to some of the cloth I unearthed in the upcoming free class. 

Deeper and deeper

Deep cleaning sure takes a lot of work. I have been going through every bin and drawer, sorting, rearranging, recycling and getting rid of a few things. I haven’t gotten rid of much, really, I keep a pretty tight ship over here, but I have been stuffing miscellaneous items into the wrong drawers and bins for quite a while.

I have been thinking about what helps me feel organized. The main thing for me is, I don’t want to see too much visual clutter. If I continuously stuff items on top of bins, and do not clean up after an intense project, this is visual clutter. This does not mean that in the middle of a project that my workspace is pristine, not at all. When I am in the process of making a thing, my workbench and every surface around it is a total mess. It has to be this way. But! My goal is have all of my supplies, materials and tools easily accessible, so that when I am in the process of creating and exploring ideas, I don’t get tripped up by not being able to find particular stamp or stencil. Being organized also helps make clean up easier because everything has its place.

Last week, David and I were returning home from a walk about and we came across this Trofast (Ikea) wooden bin in someone’s trash. I already own 4 of these bins (with the drawers, not shown here), so we nabbed it and brought it home. I really like bins and boxes with lids. This feeds into my need for visual simplicity and also helps me define aspects of what visual clutter is: Visual clutter is the inability to properly shut a bin or drawer! If the bin is stuffed chock full? The lid tips? It drives me crazy. 

I really like being able to grab a box, bin or drawer and be able to get what I need, then put it away. Salvaging the Trofast bin created the need to purchase the matching bins to go with it, So I packed my bags with sweaters and socks and (Oh, sorry. That is a different story– one of my favorite childhood stories), and walked over to Ikea to get a few items to complete this organizational extravaganza.

The items in these boxes got reorganized and put into the Trofast bins. Like items together, I put some items into ‘deep storage’, others got grouped by type (sewing items, fusible webbing, printed sacks (which I have fallen in love with for some reason), and painting items each got there own bin.

I am sorry this photo is blurry. But I think you might get the idea that this pegboard bin had a layer of dust and grime. Well? No longer. Dirt and dust has emotional weight in addition to visual. I emptied each bin, got out a toothbrush and scrubbed it clean.

Deb Lacativa once told me that keeping beads separated by color and type was akin to a bead prison! And while I still chuckle at this analogy, I was never able to make leeway in changing my perspective. I like things sorted by color, type, need and project. This bead prison  😎 holds items related to purse making, rivets, button release clips, bells, and embellishments. So why have a stuffed brass letter stencils in there, when they could be more easily accessed in my new painting area. This has been remedied but is an illustration of just how deeply I want to clean and organize. There really is no use in having supplies if you are unable to find and use them.

And, I think this is really important too, ‘It isn’t the supplies you own, but what you make with them’! For some reason this jar of Presist became precious to me and I put it aside, I remember thinking it was expensive stuff and that I needed to hold on to it for the right project. Well, I don’t know if you can tell but it is dried up. I had to throw it away. To add insult to injury, this product is being discontinued! 

My organizational extravaganza is almost complete, When I am done, I will create a video and show you what is in each drawer and why I think it works well. In the meantime, perhaps you could encourage Mary Ann to get her sort on! Mary Ann posted to facebook that she hung pictures and unpacked 5 boxes, I want to see some photographs!

The monsters in my studio

The above cabinet is really a monster. I jam pack stuff into and need to pull stuff out and rearrange things every time I need something stored in it. My intention for this cabinet is to store items that will be used in wet work, In other words, soda soaked cloth, urea, textile paint, brushes that cannot be hung on peg board, aprons, soy wax tools, stamp pads, and a few other things that need to be in the studio room, like my wall projector, scale to weigh dye and so forth.

The way this looks when I open those two doors drives me n-u-t-s. Not to mention the books and magazines above.  The soda soaked cloth at upper right? I can’t grab soda soaked organza without pulling every little stuffed bit out with it. I use those plastic bins (blue and white) all the time and each time, I take everything out, place it on the shelf where the bins were and go about my business. Below that is were I store my handmade stamps, which I rarely take out because that means I also need to take out my freezer paper, parchment paper and zip top bags.

A few months back, I identified this space as a potential staging area for acrylic painting and I bought and installed the peg board, which  you can see under the plants. I began gathering the items that ought to go in this area but then, I did not finish the job and this table became the catch all for all things not on my workbench. And the area underneath became the place to stuff items I didn’t want to see. But I see them.

And here you see, oh gosh, a mess. I keep stuffing things on top of the bins, just to have a place to put them. Just looking at this photo makes me sad. Up at the top? I call that ‘deep storage’ That is where I put things that I want access to but don’t need in a snap. Sadly, I don’t use the stereo very often because my music and podcasts are in the computer… which, if I can wrap my mind around storing or getting rid of the stereo, could be more space for storage bins.

And here is my workbench with peg board attached. And although this looks decent, (I loves me some pegboard), there sure is a good deal of space that could hold more tools!


What staging areas do you need? Do you have to hop out of your sewing chair to grab a new spool of thread? Are your pens, paints, rulers and brushes close enough to your journals and canvases that you can simply lean over and reach for the fancy tool? What do you keep piling up and where does it need to be in order to use it effectively? 

Take all of these messy piles off their unintended surfaces and place them in a single pile in the center of the room. Get the trash bin, recycle bin, and a bag for the thrift store too. Deconstruct your piles by making more piles! This is going to look a whole lot messier before it looks better. For now though, if you find thread, place it on you sewing machine staging area, move on, this part of the project is about the big picture.

While you are ripping through your studio and putting stuff in its appropriate area, assess areas that could be used as ‘deep storage’. Look for small spaces that could neatly hold a thing or two (look under my workbench- there is a wooden wine box with a lid that holds all of my stencils and potting soil, both fit nicely and don’t scream, “Mess!”)

And remember, ‘Like Things Together’. Also remember, it is OK to donate, recycle and trash things.

My cleanly obsessions have inspired Pat Spillane to join in on the cleaning fun, please go tell her I said, “right on”.

Big Clean Sigh

As you may know because I have already posted to Facebook, my sweet Arrow passed away. This animal wrapped his double paws right around my heart, he taught me to love him, to communicate with and listen to him, he loved me deep into my bones. I felt as though no day were complete without lap time. For the last two days of his life, I watched him pass, poured love and care into him, told him all the things he taught me, told him all the ways I loved him.

I made an appointment to have the vet come and help him pass. I told him the plan, told him what time David would return home. I encouraged him to stay if he wanted to, or pass if he needed to. Arrow waited.

Arrow was a gift, a true gentle cat. He is sorely missed. I grieve deeply for him. I am glad he no longer suffers and I feel proud to have been his companion.

Farewell, little man.

Because I turn to large cleaning projects when I am at a loss for true direction, I have decided to clean, deeply clean, my studio space. Creative organization is conducive to productivity and we tend to forget this. Over the next few posts, I will discuss overall organizational ideas as well as specific tips and ideas to get you and your space hopping.

I have had terrific studio space and passable space, but I don’t think the space is as important as how you maintain it and intend to use it. The space I am working in now is passable, workable, but not ideal. My husband and I live in a classic New York City apartment. We have three main rooms plus what might serve as a walk-in closet or child’s room. My art supplies, sewing machines, cloth and workbench take up about 1/3 the total living space that we take up. So my supplies need to be organized, at the ready and easily available, so that there are no impediments to engaging with the creative process.

I inserted the above photo of my mother in laws sewing kit because it contains everything she needed to repair and label her families clothing. Thread in every color, pins and needles, a piece of wax, and woven labels (my father in law was in the service and all clothing needed labels sewn into them). So, as far as her sewing kit was concerned she had everything at the ready to help her Man out.

So, are you ready to go on an organizational journey with me? I hope so. Lets get obsessive compulsive together!

First things first:
Make a list of the creative things you do
Make a list of things you would like to do

Use dye
Machine sew
Acrylic paint
Hand sew

Right now I am not acrylic painting because I use my workbench too often to dye and hand sew, I would like to remedy this.

In my next post, I will discuss assessing your space and ideas that will help you see through the mess. If you want to go on this journey with me and are interested in sharing photos of your workspace, exploring ideas to change things up together, comment on this post. I would love to feature your photos (use Flickr) and/or blog, here. Lets link up.

Organization Bomb

Showing you my studio space is helping to to understand what needs organization and how I would like to achieve it. Embroidery and stitch have become really important to me. I had skeins of thread tucked in several different places, hand dyed skeins were in 3 ring binders, I had a box of floss organized by color tucked into another storage bin, and stuffed all around that, more skeins.

So I bought 4 organizer boxes and a couple extra bobbins and got to work. 

Or, erm, um. I put everyone to work! My mother got in the act, David even lent a hand, all together, we used 125 bobbins. Now, all of the thread is organized and grouped by color. I integrated each type of floss, cotton, silk and rayon, variegated and solid. I am preparing to dye gradations of colors and now I can see what colors I need. I filled 3 of the 4 boxes I bought for the purpose.

Phew. When I first opened the shipment and looked at my purchase of plastic, I was disappointed that I bought plastic in the first place. I was almost in a panic about it! I convinced myself that I wouldn’t like the look of the thread in the boxes, that there was probably another way to organize that I hadn’t thought of that would be better. But then the threads started looking like candies, grouped together with their fellows and I knew that my neat and orderly side had been appeased.

I honestly feel that keeping tidy helps me be a more prolific artist. Beside which, living in a tiny apartment really forces me to be neat and organized. I like knowing where every last thing is. I like being able to reach for a box of red embroidery thread, beads organized by color and size (at one point Deb Lacativa called this a bead prison! LOL. While I appreciate the sentiment, I do like bead prisons), I like being able to remove a drawer and bring it to my workbench and return it again. 

I often hear comments that folks have messy studio space. What is your space like? Does it work for you? Inspire you? Does it make your work easier?