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By Jamie Dolmage
As published in CRAFTLINK Newsletter by Karen Booy
I have always loved organizing things and after years of personal organizing experience it is a pleasure to be writing a regular column for Craftlink. In the last issue I discussed finding your own organizational style. I hope it gave you some new insights and sparked some thought toward finding your personal style -- what works best for you. I look forward to sharing more tips and suggestions, in addition to learning some of your favorites.
As we enter one of the busiest times of the year, maximizing time and energy is paramount. Gearing up for shows, making gifts for family and friends, as well as the extra activities of the holiday season can put a strain on even the most organized person. Having your workspace and supplies organized is very important. Not only can it impact whether or not you enjoy your labors, it can have a positive or negative financial affect on your business or hobby. Hunting for tools, duplicate purchases and repeat trips for supplies are just a few of the frustrations caused by not having your work space and supplies in order. The result is the loss of three valuable commodities ---- time, energy, and money!
Work and storage space always seems to be an issue, The more space I have the more stuff I will find to put in it! Years ago if I found I'd bought a duplicate bag of pompoms or bottle of paint it didn't much matter; I figured it would be used eventually and didn't take the time to return it. In many cases that was true. But over the years those extra purchases multiplied into more stuff than storage space and eventually many ended up as donations or garage sale items. As crafting became a source of income, I began to watch my expenditures more carefully and was surprised to learn hoe much those unused purchases cut into profits --- making more "cents" to be better organized.
If you are fortunate enough to have a room or space in your home designated for your interests--- good for you! If not, well it's just a matter of being a bit creative. If at all possible, it's best to keep everything together. Since the type of tools and supplies you use dictates how much space you need you'll have to decide if you have room to store everything in one place. If you must divide your supplies, it's more efficient to have all of one type of item together (for example: yarn, beads, paint, fabric, etc). When you're in the planning stages of a project you can easily check your supplies and will be less likely to purchase duplicates. You may forget you have red yarn if it's in the drawer with your cross-stitch supplies while all your other yarn is in and "under- the- bed" storage box.
Tools are a bit different in that many are used for a variety of projects. That being the case, it's helpful to keep certain tools together in a basic craft toolbox. Often others in a household share items such as glue guns and drills --- so this keeps them handy for everyone. It was only after I took over the guestroom (completely) as an office/studio that I began to store all my tools (including my very own Drumel!) in one central location --- a multi-drawer organizer. Prior to that, except for the basics, most of my tools were stored with the supplies for which they were used --- crochet hooks with the yarn, stencils and stencil brushes with the paint, and so on.
The amount of time you spend doing a particular craft can be a deciding factor as well. There are times when storing a variety of supplies and tools together makes good sense. for example, if you have an on-going project that uses wooden stars, paint, and a permanent marker, you may want to keep them together as a kit --- especially if you like to take projects on the road, It would be prudent, in some cases, to make and investment in duplicate tools. For the professional crafter being able to utilize any extra time --- it is money well spent. I often took advantage of time spent waiting at music lessons or sports practices by keeping project supplies and tools ready to go. It can be very frustrating to find a needed tool has been left at home!
Finding the space to work can also be a challenge. Often the ability to leave projects out to completion is a luxury. If you can, clear out a corner of the basement, a portion or all of an extra bedroom, or even a large closet to call your own. In our first home I turned two filing cabinets and a scrap of lumber into a small work area in a closet. It was great to shut the doors and hide the mess! As my crafting/career expanded it became necessary to have both an office and a workspace, so I had to make the decision to completely take over our extra bedroom. At first I felt guilty about putting visiting family members on the sofa bed... at first! (Actually, I found guests to be very understanding). Here are some creative ways to make a space (if only temporary):
A large flat project box --- an inexpensive cardboard under-the-bed type --- works well for keeping current projects handy. In some cases the lid can act as a lap table for holding supplies while you work. They will slide under couches too, and are great for keeping little hands and pets from smudging fresh paint on smaller projects as you wait for them to dry.
Folding tables come in all sorts of sizes these days. Lightweight and inexpensive. Since they can be used for lots of other things --- like parties and yard sales --- the expense is easy to justify!
An old friend --- the ironing board --- can make an excellent extra worktable. Most can be adjusted for height making them very versatile.
A kitchen cart with wheels doesn't take up much space. They usually have a couple of shelves and can be rolled in and out of your work area.
The top of a chest style freezer is a great worktable. Keep projects on box lids, trays, or inexpensive cookie sheets so they can be moved quickly to access your frozen goodies.
There are lots of great places to "stuff" and hide --- woops! --- that would be to store your treasures. Many I have learned personally from necessity; others came from friends and fellow crafters who have shared their tips. The usual ones are cupboards or open shelves, roomy dressers, milk crate style stacking storage containers, under-the-bed boxes, boxes with lids (plastic or cardboard), baskets (especially ones designed to stack) not to mention all the great units designed specifically for craft and sewing rooms. Here are some of the creative places to store supplies I have heard over the years:
Unless you are busy racking up frequent flyer miles, utilize your suitcases. They are ideal for storing all sorts of favrics and yarn, silk flowers, as well as needlework supplies.
Under the bed is great --- under the mattress works too! If you are getting desperate for fabric storage space, fabric can easily be tucked in with the sheets.
Those multi-pocket hanging shoe holders make a wonderful yarn storage solution --- tucked inside a closet door --- always easy to access.
Batting can be cumbersome. Utilize the wasted space of the rafters in an unfinished basement ceiling. It stays tucked well, is light, and doesn't hurt if it comes crashing down!
Wooden dowels can be a challenge --- an inexpensive poster mailing tube from your local mail/packaging or office supply store makes an excellent container.
Last but not least --- one of my favorites --- a designer I know utilized the seldom-used tub in an extra bath. You can really pack a lot behind a lovely shower curtain!
Do you have a favorite or unusual storage or workspace tip? I would love to hear it and share them in future columns. You can email me by going to www.tidycrafts.com Click on the "E-mail Us" button on the left side of the home page and let me know you've stopped by. I look forward to hearing from you.
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