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Archive for the ‘Spring Has Sprung!’ Category

My series of spring-themed posts wouldn’t be complete without tips for crafters in the midst of spring cleaning.  I’m focusing on simplification and organization of your craft area, all which are no-cost, because I know that you’ve already swept, dusted and scrubbed the dirt away!  (If you haven’t, it’s best to do it before you start.)

1. Group your items.

An organized space should leave your materials easy to find and access.  Sort through your area and group your supplies using cardboard boxes or milk crates if you’d like.  Depending on how many tools and materials you have, I’ve found that having about 10 groups is a good, manageable amount.  This is a great time to find a home for those little things that seem to hang around on a desk and never have an actual home.  My materials groups include: paper, adhesives, paint and drawing supplies, bookbinding, stamping and ribbon.  Using a box or basket, make one group specifically for office supplies, like pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, stapler, hole punch, etc.  Make sure you have a trash/recycle bag handy to get rid of clutter that you don’t need!

I put all of my tools and gadgets in one place.

2. Find homes for your groups.

This step seems easy, but I have a few suggested do’s and don’ts.  Do find a place to put your group that will give you easy access to it.  Don’t stack groups on top of each other.  Do utilize filing cabinets, small bookshelves and nightstand-sized dressers to store your things.  Don’t cram your group into a space that’s too small and could wrinkle, tear or smudge it.  Do pack rarely used supplies in a box to store.  Do be creative with containers: try using baskets, jars, hat boxes and shoe boxes covered with pretty paper as homes for your groups.

A place for my paper, cardstock and accents.

3.  Freezer bags are your friend!

I can’t tell you how useful these will be to you!  You can use larger or smaller sizes to hold buttons, ribbon, paper, fabric, art supplies, stickers, yarn, paint tubes, extra pens and pencils, stamping supplies, pretty paper scraps, and a million other things.  Best of all, these clear bags make it easy to grab what you need when crafting.

Freezer bags store unfinished projects well, too.

4.  Label your heart out.

Use sticker printer labels, pretty paper or just a permanent marker to label it all!  I printed my groups’ names on pretty paper, cut them out into rectangle labels and taped them to my dresser drawers, where I keep my supplies.  It looks so pretty, and it’s easy to find everything.  Don’t forget to label your storage boxes!

The labels on some of my drawers.

5.  Declutter…

Speaking from personal experience, crafters tend to hoard clutter like crazy.  Pick a time to declutter that’s best for you: a grumpy or sad mood could make you more nostalgic and less likely to part with your clutter.  Using a cardboard box, work from one end of your craft space to the other, opening drawers and nooks.  Get rid of those paper bits, those thread scraps, the broken scissors, the old magazines and that (sadly) failed project you mean to fix but never do.  (You may find junk that you don’t need, but that might be of use to someone else: put it on a community website to sell, like CraigsList!)  Be strong!  You can do it!

Out with the old…

6.  Lighting is key.

Most crafts require a bit of eye strain, with small details and intricate parts.  Whether your craft space is a tiny corner of your living room or it’s own room, lighting is important for your eyes and for the accuracy of your craft.  Ideally, you should have three sources of light in your area: natural light from a window, an overall light (such as a ceiling light) and a specific light (like a table lamp or floor lamp next to your table.)  If natural light isn’t possible, or if you craft at night (like I do) make sure you have the other two.

I have a desk lamp just like this. I got it at Target for $20.

7.  Prevent the messies.

Whether you craft with paper, a needle and thread, beads or clay, you’re bound to make a mess.  After a night of bookbinding my craft area looks like a confetti grenade went off!  It’s best to be prepared to tidy as you go.  Designate a coardboard box just for recycling, for things like paper scraps, thread and cardboard.  Put together a small kit just for combating the messies, with items like a sticky-tape lint remover, a small hand-broom and dustpan, a roll of paper towells, goop/sticker remover, a small spray bottle for water or window cleaner and any other tools that will clean your craft type.

The Messies can easyily happe. Here’s Lynne’s craft space before…
…and after! Both photos from The Patchery Menagerie

8.  Your work surface is best naked.

Before my spring cleaning this year, my 4’x6′ craft table was so piled with paper trays, mail, unfinished projects and bits o’ whoknowswhat that I only had about a foot of working space.  I firmly believe that a crafter’s work surface should be clean, uncluttered and open.  Your art deserves to be the center of attention, and needs room to be spread out for accurate measurements, for pattern planning and to lessen chances of wear and tear.  Take everything off of your surface, and scrub it shiny clean.  The items that are then returned to the surface should be very limited and necessary, like a lamp, a computer or a cutting mat.  What should you do with the leftovers?  Group it and home it!

Photo from Rivene’s Journey

9.  Is your environment ideal?

This is an important step.  Make two lists on a piece of paper.  For the first list, write fiveish descriptive words that inspire you.  (Some suggestions: romance, adventure, simplicity, vintage, the color yellow, my grandmother, etc.)  For the second list, write fiveish descriptive words that make you comfortable.  (Some suggestions: warmth, music, the scent of vanilla, organization, sweets, a window view of the yard , etc.)

The first list describes the best way for your space to become the perfect working environment for you.  If you listed goals, neatly print a list of your larger goals and frame it, hanging it near your desk.  If you listed a friend or relative, add their photo to your surface (don’t worry, loved ones are never clutter!)    If you listed simplicity, hang a cork bulletin board on the wall, with one or two simple, inspiring pictures tacked to it.  You can make wall art with your favorite colors using decorative paper and add romance by adding a pretty pillow to your chair.  If your accomplishments inspire you, and I hope they do, frame pictures of your art and display them in a group, or mount a single wall shelf to display some of your actual art.

The second list describe the details that you should add to your environment.  For instance, you can put a few blankets in a wicker basket if you listed warmth, a vanilla-scented candle for your favorite scent, labeled hat boxes  with supplies neatly arranged in a bookshelf if you’ve listed organization, a jar of lollipops if you listed sweets and you can turn your table or work surface toward the window for a better view.  Sometimes it’s fun to make a sign that says, “Kelly’s Shoppe”!

This craft room is a great example of a personalized environment. The artist’s list would most likely have words like vintage, colorful, organized, accessible and fun. Note the direction of the work surface, which adds a different feel to the room. Thanks to Unplggd for a great example!

10.  Keep a proud, visible inventory.

Your stuff’s pretty awesome, right?  Your art started with you, with a vision and because of you it became what it is.  If your space allows, I highly recommend displaying your completed projects in bookshelves or, a display table or on wall shelves.  Whether you give your art as gifts, sell it online, show it in galleries or plan to keep it, a collective display of completion is valuable.  It’s an easy way to keep your art clean, organized, available and ready for referencing it or showing it off to guests.

A great example of art display. Here, Neighborhood Potters displays their ceramic art.

*   *   If you find yourself stuck, need some help and ideas or have a great tip to add, let us know!   *   *

Note: These no-cost ideas occasionally mention items that make it easier to organize, such as shelving and the desk lamp.  If you should find that you need one or two pieces of furniture for your craft area, I suggest you check out an online community board, such as CraigsList for your needs.  CraigsList also has a free items department, where bookshelves, tables and dressers are listed daily. While the items are of no charge, it is understood that the taker arrange transportation and move it themselves.

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