I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. (My Out of Shape Studio Part 2)

IMG_1672I am relieved to find out that I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed by the state of my studio. (Although, I am pretty sure I win the prize for the messiest studio!) I’ve heard from many other artists who are also looking at their studio space with a heavy heart. These spaces are sucking our creativity. I am certain that my lost mojo is in here somewhere. I’m on a mission to organize and reclaim my studio space.  I feel that my work is stale and that if my studio had a good airing out, maybe my jewellery would be better. But what to do with all this stuff?  It’s all good stuff.  I hope readers have some organizing tips for me!

IMG_1664 (2)Over here? Over there? Maybe my lost mojo is trapped under the boxes of magazines? Why would anyone put a pottery kiln in the middle of a studio?

Everything in here was put here by me. This was a perfectly empty garage a few years ago. But in all fairness to my studio, I don’t think it has ever recovered from its last move. I used to have my studio space in my house. But after nesting in there for ten years, I had to give up the space when we had kids and we needed to build bedrooms. My old studio was in a walk-out basement and had four large windows that faced south west…when it was my studio space, I was in heaven. So bright, so handy, so large. Then I moved to a single car garage.  It is about 1/2 the size of my old space, yet I brought everything from my larger studio and squished it into the new space.  That was my first mistake with this space!

In the beginning it felt a bit like camping in there. One light bulb on the ceiling, no heat. Over time, we added insulation, a window and a heater. Then the stuff started to come….and come…and come. The busier I got with the magazine, the less time I spent working in there. But somehow the “I don’t know where to put it Gremlins” moved in when I wasn’t looking. And my once modest single car garage became the dumping zone…both for art materials and household items.

IMG_1668 (2)But what to do with all this “stuff” now? Will I ever make stained glass again? Paint with acrylics? Work on my potter’s wheel? Maybe yes, maybe no. Do I have room for it? No. Do I like tripping and banging my shins on it? No. But I do know that the minute I move out something, I’ll realize that I need it. For example: I had about 150 Mylar balloons. (My mother-in-law found them and thought I might “do something” with them.) I had them hanging around for 12 years. Not 2 days after I got rid of them….my friend Kathleen e-mails me a photo of her slip trail work in metal clay…guess what her secret tool was…. A moment of silence for my lost Mylar balloons.

IMG_1677 (2)IMG_1658In my ongoing search for “inner studio peace” I started to read articles about clearing clutter. Every once in a while I was motivated to come back into my studio. Then after a few days of “pushing things around” I’d give up…and go back to working in the 12″ x 12″ clear space I managed to find…and the clutter just seemed to populate. Determined to over come my clutter, I sought out books about clutter. (I now own at least 4!) I have all the bins, and drawers, and organization tools I should need, but the space has never been pulled together. I have little “goat trails” in my studio to get from one part of my studio to other. If I don’t move too fast, nothing falls over.

My need for a neat studio reared its head again when I read about the popular Japanese organizer Marie Kondo who counsels the “stuff challenged” to look at each thing we own and ask if it “sparks joy”. If the object did not “spark joy” we were to get it out of our space. I think my studio could wear out her “spark joy” theory. Despite scoffing at her idea, it planted a seed. The idea has percolated in my brain. Perhaps the key to getting a grip on my messy studio is to sort like with like and not just try to move through the mess like a snow plow?

So now that I’ve showed my studio…will you show yours?  Maybe we could encourage each other as we clear our studios and “heal our artselves.” (Quoting Ann Davis from the article in part one of this series.) You can share comments and ideas below and on our Facebook page:

If you don’t see a new post here next week, please call the authorities as I may be buried under a “stuff avalanche” in my studio.

A very short (3 minute) introduction to Kondo’s methods of de-cluttering and organization.

13 Responses to “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. (My Out of Shape Studio Part 2)”

  1. Debbie Stillman

    Ok, so I’ve taken pics of my studio that I am sure is the worst of the worst of the worst. I think I am brave enough to share those pics as I am in the painful process of re-organizing this chaos. How do I do that?

  2. Ruth Greening

    I have found that when I get a wild hair to clean my studio that all I do is create a vacuum! I turn around an swoosh all those empty spaces on counter tops and floor are again full of ‘stuff’…the I might need that someday, very important 🙁 stuff.

    • Oh I know Ruth! Me too. I’m totally paralyzed by all the “somedays” and I can’t get rid of a thing. But I’ve got to change something in my studio. For nearly a year I’ve been bringing stuff into my office to work on. I don’t know if it is the lack of room, the depressing mess or the light in my studio… but it is a good space. I am reclaiming it!

  3. Jeanie Babbage

    My yarn crafts have taken over one end of our small house. My new jewelry interests are taking over the other end. Other than a few beaded ideas the two really don’t do well in the same space. I am positive that I will get things sorted out. (Don’t laugh!!!) My mind is strong!

  4. Debbie

    I have more than 10 years of stained glass supplies, tools and equipment accumulated. While I still love making stained glass projects I have no room to work. why? I was sidetracked by other crafts….paper crafts and all that goes with that. One of the good things to come from that, are my Pergmano tools and pattern books. somehow I became more interested in stringing jewelry, which led to crafting in metal clay, shot and wire. I think I can use the leather crafting tools that I have hung on to for 40 years+ on sheet metal and clay. I also think I can use the Pergamano tools on Some jewelry design. Now with all of the collecting of tools, equipment and supplies I might need for jewelry design and crafting, I have not made anything out of the metal clay, sheet metal or wire that I have. Why? I have so much stuff that I have no room to work. In an effort to clean my room, I have moved some piles to the hallway and spare bedroom so that I would have room to move in the craft room. I still can’t move so I will need to move more out to make space
    I have decided that my first and second steps toward making space and accomplishing something will be to put all craft books and magazines away in the bookshelf…and then gather up paper crafting supplies tools and equipment. I plan on donating most of it to the local Senior center. these two things will give me more room to put jewelry making supplies and tools away. wish me luck. I am committed to follow your efforts with my own. Maybe we can both dig our way through to a beautiful craft studio. thanks for the motivation you have offered to all of us.

    • Thank you Debbie for calling it “motivation” as I’m still a bit nervous revealing the truth about my messy studio! I like the idea of donating art materials to a senior’s center. I have a community living place that may be able to use my extra stash.

  5. Oh, Jeannette, you have my sympathy! One needs a space that matches one’s own comfort level in which to create!

    Friends who’ve been to my house know that I am not overly-concerned about tidiness. But I don’t work there: I have a studio a mile away that I do keep organized! I hold four Open House events each year so, even if things do get a bit crazy at times, I force myself to clean up for those. And, knowing I’ll have to do that soon enough anyway serves as a reminder to keep things in line.

    Photo from a 2013 Open House:

    Do I have, for example, texture samples that are not my favorites, that really should be pitched? Sure. But as long as they actually work, those go in a box together that I’ll pull out in a workshop and let students rummage through. They may find something in there that suits their taste better than my own favorites. So, yes, one side of creativity is being surrounded by enough bits of inspiration and potential usefulness.

    But not beyond the point where the setting saps creativity! Me, I feel I must fix that situation. With an idea in mind, I don’t want to get side-tracked. If I have to go looking for some tool, for example, and I don’t know just where it is, either I’m likely to have lost the exact image in my mind by the time I find it or, worst yet, I’ll get distracted in the search by one or more other incomplete projects, then start looking for what I couldn’t find when I gave up on it, and end up completing nothing….

    Photo of work spaces in my last-minute rush before a 2014 Open House:

    If you’ve had a functionally-creative space, then you already know what it can give you. I hope you are able to find the time to reclaim such a space for yourself!

      • Sorry, Jeannette, I’d tried to simply embed the images of my aerie-studio with its wonderful (though old and thus drafty in winter) windows. Seems that doesn’t work in a comment. Oh well. Trying to save you some time, here are links where you (and others) can see them. (If this attempt doesn’t work, I can email them to you, when I get to a different computer…)

        Open House

        While Creating

        Creatively yours,

  6. Oh Jeannette, I’m in the same boat! I have 2 rooms filled with stuff and no place to work. Don’t know if I’m brave or foolish enough to post photos. I’ve been trying to get “stuff” out of one room {been stashing for 15 years} so I can set up to paint, but have been without energy for a year due to a thyroid condition just unearthed………need surgery. So, very slowly making some progress. The second room is my “beading room”, also filled with “stuff”. Where do I put this “stuff” so I can work? Maybe I’ll post a pic of my beading area with “stuff” closing in on me……….and maybe not? Good luck
    with your task.

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