When you work with metal clay, you tend to fall in love with this medium because it takes up so little space. It is extremely portable and a very small toolbox will hold most of your tools. Many of the basic tools are common things you might find in your kitchen or around the house. Miniature rolling pin, cookies cutters, picks, emery boards, brushes, etc. are some examples of basic tools. In no time at all, the tools multiply, and, before you know it, take over a portion of your house. The other people who share that living space are forced to give it up. It really is unfair – to everyone concerned. (Pictured is Yvonne’s Kitchen/Studio.)
It is a challenge to organize so many tiny tools. You can’t have too many tools or too many beads (everyone knows that). The question is, how do you know what to let go of? You can’t know what to let go of until you assess what you have. In my study of feng shui, I ran across a book entitled, “Clearing the Clutter,” and then I attended a workshop on the same topic. It turns out the basic premise or use for feng shui is in the clearing of spaces. The best tip I learned for weeding “stuff” out of your life was one about creating three boxes or bins with the labels: donate/re-purpose, pitch and keep. The trick for me was getting the boxes to the thrift store or the trash before I got a chance to pull things back out. Keep telling yourself, “less is more.” It is so true.
Sort it all out and systematically categorize the things you are sorting through. If anything appears to be taking up too much space, find a bin for it. Be ruthless, is it being used? Selling or donating unused items is the easiest route in making them go away. The cash or credit you receive is such a plus, the pain of letting go is minimized.
Things begin to take on a life of their own and then start sucking up your energy because you have to deal with them. They are difficult to get rid of. The emotional or sentimental attachment poses a threat to the process. The process of making things go away takes practice. My mother was known and famous for her generosity. She had seven children and a husband and a plethora of “stuff.” Should you compliment her on anything in her home, she would make you take it. It was easier for her to let go of something she knew would please the person admiring it. I now realize what a wise and crafty person she is.
Space planning is no small feat. It requires a good deal of thoughtful planning, engineering and letting go of things. It also requires a high degree of organization. Without organization, you don’t know what you have to let go of. In my own case, the dining room table became a parking lot for all stages of design and production. There were finished pieces of jewelry on display, pill boxes filled with various findings, ice cube trays filled with glass beads, dishes of dichroic cabochons, a shoe-box crammed with zipper jewels (my great invention) and the parts for making them, shot glasses with paint brushes and dried metal clay, and the list goes on and on.
I struggled for months (years to be truthful) to figure out a better order for all these things I was collecting and they kept multiplying. I realize that twenty five plus years is ample time for those night elves to do their work. I had several different beading rooms, but each one became a cluttered nightmare with no visible table top to work on.
VOILA! My husband Michael, the wood artist, built a wall to wall bookcase. It is five sections from floor to ceiling made of alder stained cherry with cupboards beneath each section. Once I emptied those cupboards of random electronics, old files, VCR’s and cassette tapes, I was certain I had discovered my solution. All those cupboards were emptied. The VHS tapes I wanted to keep were sent off to be converted to DVDs. The TV with VCR has been donated.
Each cupboard now houses the myriad of tools and various pieces of equipment for my trade. One cupboard has kits for seven students (my maximum for teaching workshops), the next has a tower of drawers to house all the molds I’ve made and various texture tips, cutters and the like. The third holds all my firing equipment in a work bucket: crème brulee torches, large tweezers, LOS, black max, firing stand, gloves and protective glasses. The fourth has all my scrap glass and tools for making the dichroic cabochons. The fifth stands empty and yet to be filled, but that is a good thing since I am not finished. I still have beads to organize – get rid of? The best organizing tools for beads I have found are 5.5 x 9 x 1 inch trays with separator black felt bottoms. Some even have tops which snap shut. I have beads organized by type: coral, turquoise, pearls, semi-precious stones, etc. I also have some trays which organize the glass beads by color. These trays stack nicely and neatly and once labeled, make it easy to find a particular bead when I need to find one.
The point in bringing peace on your house by organizing your workspace is that it can be done without a degree in feng shui. The process of sorting things gets down to the brass tacks. The timing is important because the process is difficult on an emotional level. Several weeks in between “pitches” made it easier for me, and each one was less painful than the first. The art of organizing your work-space is a process and you have to remember to “trust the process.” What a difference it has made to have a clean dining room table!
With my new organized work-space, I find myself being much more productive. I was able to open my last 50 gram package of metal clay this week and made eight pendants with dichoric cabochons, four pairs of earrings, a ring, and three charms. I also made a couple dozen dichroic glass cabachons. My head is clear and I find more room in there to design and plan new projects. In demonstrating my respect for other people’s space, my relationships have improved. I have started cooking again due to the newly cleared dining room table. The kitchen is no longer permanent parking space for the crème brulee torch, torch stand and tumbler.
About the Author:
Yvonne Kuennen teaches classes at a brand new Hot House in the Breckenridge Arts District and she is the Education Outreach Director for Summit County Arts Council. Classes include sessions with a High School, Wounded Warriors Family Adventures, Timberline Adult Daycare, and various groups. Yvonne’s company Artiscape/YKnots mission is to teach “Art Heals” https://www.facebook.com/Artiscape.Yknots http://yvonnekuennen.wix.com/artiscape