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What’s Up Wednesday: Studio Mucking TIPS

Studio reorganzing -- tips to make it work, and keep you working!

I’ve been here before, amongst stacks of fabric, heaped up surfaces, strewn ribbon, and “temporarily” boxed miscellany. Like the bins above, temporarily packed up last year.

I’ve been here few times. And this time for far far too long. (Although I have to say, a lot of the heaps and stacks you see have been created recently in the re-starting stage of this studio mucking effort!)

Since this seems to be the week for some soul-baring, courageous sharing here at 2create (see Sam’s post sharing her thoughts on redefining herself and resolving the conflicts of becoming an athlete while experiencing first-time motherhood and being a crafty and creative homemaker!) … errrr… sidetracked by thoughts of admiration and respect for my daughter! Yes, so since this seems to be a week for that, I’m actually sharing pictures of my studio in its current state, bad lighting, half-removed wallpaper, vacuum cleaner cord and all. Which I rarely let anyone but immediate family members see when it gets to a mess like this! Word for today: angst. 

Mucking out my studio -- it has begun!_0003

Confession: I am a Textile Collector (read: fabricoholic.) This is not news LOL! I love my fabrics. Sometimes I just can’t bear to leave a piece of fabric (or a dozen) in the store, but must bring it home. Most times, these purchases have dreams and visions attached to them. But right now I am overrun and I’m not sure I like any of it anymore…

… until I sit down to fold and stack the pieces that have become unfolded and unstacked (somehow — not sure how it happens *smirk*) 

Having my hands and eyes on one piece, or one stack at a time reawakens my affections and I start imagining, oohing and aahing, and planning all over again. And my intention of purging a percentage of it goes out the window. So does the speed at which I get anything done if I am not careful. Fabric isn’t the only issue here! You’ve seen the kinds of assorted crafty projects I put up on this blog! 

But since I’ve been here before, surrounded by heaps of toys that need organizing, I know I only have to put in the hours. Whether it was from outgrowing my organization system as now, or whether it was from a move across the country to a new house, or needing to rearrange kidlets’ sleeping arrangements and share my creative space with a child’s bed and desk (Becca claims she liked it!) … I most definitely have been here before. 

Mucking out my studio -- it has begun!_0001

Now: folded and stacked neatly in the shelf. Later: sort by color and theme and yardage.

Here are my tips. These are the things that I must remind myself of frequently. These tips keep me from getting overwhelmed and come to a screeching halt like I did last winter/spring. I’ve been in studio limbo for over a year and it’s time to dust off my helpful tips for myself and to share them with you. Because that’s what’s up with me this Wednesday! 

1. Vacuum often. This is first on the list right now because on Monday it made ALL the difference to my attitude. A clear and fresh looking patch of carpet or hard floor says, “this space has potential to look clean, clear and organized!” When you stand still, put your hands on your hips, blow your bangs out of your eyes and take stock of what you’ve done, you have this one clear area to see that doesn’t require more work! It’s so easy! It’s my non-kitchen equivalent of The Shiny Sink, if you get that reference. Plus you don’t get things sticking to your bare feet as you move around ;) 

2. Make very short lists of your next steps. To-do lists that can be finished in an hour or a day — never longer — are key for me. I make them detailed enough that if my brain gets overwhelmed by the sound of “aarrrggghhh-aaaaacckk-waaaaahh” inside my head and I have the urge to walk away, I can just look at the next thing on the list and be able to say, “I can do THIS next little thing. Easy!” It resets that negative attitude. It’s not just a to-do list, believe me! It is inspiration, work diary, a focusing tool, and a celebration when it becomes overlaid horizontal lines! Make these lists frequently and with your Project Manager’s hat on. Then just put your Worker Bee’s hat on and do them. Don’t wear the Overwhelmed Creative Person’s hat at all.

3. Don’t hesitate to relocate whole categories of stuff to another space. It’s like those games where you have to slide pieces around to make a pattern but there’s only one empty square to use for shuffling. The more empty squares you can give yourself during the studio-stuff-shuffling phase, the easier and faster it is to get the job done! Just don’t forget about the bins of yarn in your son’s bedroom closet. Just sayin’. 

4. Organizing supplies you plan on using is not the same thing as packing them efficiently. In order to KEEP things organized, you must be able to get them out gracefully and put them away gracefully. Or you won’t. Which defeats the purpose. Here are my things to avoid: containers stacked more than 2 high. Containers, drawers, or any storage item filled so “efficiently” that there’s no room to grow. Containers, drawers, or any storage item filled so efficiently that, if you don’t remember how stuff was, you’ll never make it fit again. If possible, avoid storage items with lids. DEFINITELY avoid storage items with lids inside other storage items with lids: if you have small containers of things, keep them in drawers or lidless bins but preferably just on a shelf.

To summarize: Your stuff must fit your system OR your system must fit your stuff. Adjust your quantity of stuff, the size of your storage, or your requirements of how easily you will get stuff in and out.

Also remember, it’s not about finding the perfect container. It’s about finding something that functions perfectly for the way you work.

5. You don’t have to do every task in each area before moving on to something else. For example, I want my quilting and crafting fabrics organized by color. But for now, having them folded and stacked in the shelf units is good enough! I’ll have more room and patience later to do the detail tasks. This also keeps you from getting bogged down or worse, bored!

6. Create staging areas where you gather “like with like” This is especially helpful if some of your stuff is really jumbled — hey, it happens to more people than just me! Movers are notorious for filling boxes as efficiently as possible with whatever is leftover from somewhere else (which, in their defense, is their job! If you are a military family you know what I mean!) As I run across a fresh box to unpack after a move (in the past,) still-filled shopping bags, piles of abandoned project leftovers, etc., I can quickly sort them into notions, craft paints, beads/jewelry, fabric, papercrafting tools and other major categories of stuff and put them in certain areas or *ugh* temporary containers. When I am ready to tackle that part of my ~studio~ I have everything gathered up that I need to consider.

7. Take breaks when the time is right. When your body says you’ve had enough. When your brain says you’ve had enough. When you’ve been working along for quite a while and you get to a hard-decision-making point — STOP. Come back with a rested body and a fresh perspective. Come back well fed and hydrated; bring your water bottle. Take breaks by the clock, too, if you need to do that either for the discipline of sticking to the task at hand or so that you don’t overdo things physically without realizing it. Just don’t forget to come back!

8. Trash, recycle, and donations need to be taken away ASAP. Preferably by a helpful someone else that you can recruit who will not ask you questions that have you second guessing your decisions or feeling guilty. But if you can’t get a helpful someone else, put on your Helpful Someone Else hat and get it done yourself. I suggest daily AND as often as it starts getting in the way. 

9. Practice self-talk while you work. Give yourself pep talks about how nice it would be to not have to deal with this again, but that you are not a horrible person because your stuff is in a mess. Visualise, rehearse, talk yourself through the current work, the goal, and new practices for a future studio that doesn’t put you back where you are now! This time for me, that’s going to be a talk about how Projects Produced need to be greater than Stuff Acquired. I’m not sure there’s enough self-talk to turn me into someone that puts stuff away in a timely manner, but there will be some of that, too! 

Some progress to show you from the last 24 hours. The two shelf units still in place, getting emptied; the one that has been moved and filled; and those containers that I packed last year that will just have to wait a while longer… 

Mucking out my studio -- it has begun!_0004

Yes. Yes, I do know I have a lot of fabric. I can assure you I do not have the most fabric of all. 

With dreams of a soon-to-be Happy Creative Studio, 


 PS I feel as if this post should also be in the categories Craft Room, House and Home, The Studio, and the Paper Pile even though my paper isn’t piled any longer ;)

[leap forward a couple weeks: http://www.2createincolor.com/2014/08/05/another-studio-reorganization-wip/]

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