This entire week, I have been touching on some of my goals for 2015. I discussed streamlining my creative process, or being more efficient, in Efficiency meets serenpidity. In Using paper scraps to craft accent flowers, I stressed my desire to shop less and use existing materials more. Optimizing my craft storage and working space is also on my list of goals for 2015. In May of last year, I finally retired from my 12-year stint as Co-Affiliate Training Director for Iowa’s Destination Imagination program, which involved keeping lots of records and tracking many different projects simultaneously. During five years of that same period, I developed a gifted education after-school enrichment program for local elementary schools, and taught German at those same schools and out of my home for even longer. While most people who know me claim that my approach to projects is organized—and they are correct if they look through my computer files—what they don’t see are the cartons of paper files, the books, binders, and hands-on materials that have accumulated on shelves, the garage, the basement, and even in my crafting areas. What in the world do retired teachers do with all of their materials?!

Training materials collage

So, one of my goals this year is not only to reduce the space training materials occupy, but to use that same space for my crafting materials that, quite frankly, spill onto every horizontal space I can find in the house. It is a struggle to keep the kitchen table cleared, as it is the biggest working-height flat space. After every work session, I have promised myself to put things away. But wait a moment! There are a couple of working spaces available that may not need to be torn down daily . . . if only I can clear them off first.

In my sewing room, I removed the laptop on the writing desk to turn it into a cutting table/paper crafting surface. However, I can hardly use it in its current state. Hopefully the incentive to clean up this desk will follow soon, since it’s embarrassing to see this mess on the Web.

Writing Desk

In the basement, there is an old dining room table I inherited from my mom after she passed away that is actually bigger than the kitchen table, if only I would sweep it clean. I have no idea what is buried on the other side of the light box, which also needs to be relocated. Obviously, this mess is worse than the one in the sewing room, but not by much.

Basement table

As for my paper crafting studio, that is where I store tools, paper and paper crafting embellishments. It’s also where my laptop resides, so it’s my writing room. And if we have a guest, it can be a spare bedroom. In a word, it’s not a good place to craft! I do have a nice view outside of my window, though—rain, sunshine, or snow.

Looking out the window

And then there are the put-aways. (Don’t tell me you don’t have such a thing!) Sitting in a basket (and elsewhere) are paper crafting tools and supplies that need to be put away. Sometimes items sit in one place because I haven’t yet settled on a practical storage system.

Basket of put-aways

Previously I stored wood-mounted rubber stamps in plastic see-through shoe boxes. While they fit nicely (jigsaw-style, that is), you can imagine what happened when I needed the stamp at the bottom of the box. The box got dumped. Recently I discovered these shallow clam shell-type plastic packages at my local scrapbooking store. They are called Stufftainersâ„¢ by Stampendous, and come in all kinds of depths, ranging from 7/16 inch to one inch. This is the “thicker” size (actually labeled that way), recommended for organizing your wood-mounted stamps. I store my containers on a shelf, stacked, but the Stampendous folks suggest storing them vertically in a magazine rack, color-coding them with ribbon tied to the tab that is intended for hanging the Stufftainers.

Stufftainers by Stampendous

They work quite nicely for my collection of Faber-Castell Gelatos water-soluble crayons and related supplies, too.


In short, 2015 will be a year when I will work toward better organization of work space and supplies. I’m sure it will be a continuing goal. When you craft, it’s the nature of the beast to spread your things out to make selections. In fact, that chaos inspires creativity until . . . it blocks you because there are too many choices and/or no space in which to create. What are some of your favorite ways to control creative chaos? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “Taming the creative beast”

  1. You have your Spring cleaning done early! I need to tackle my sewing studio after tax season.
    What a nice view!!

  2. Oh dear mine looks a little worse than yours (well maybe in some areas a lot worse!). Papers to be filed or trashed are a big problem for me. Once I get started it is better but it’s the getting started that slows me down. And then there is the problem of pulling out things to work on/with and then not putting them back. Add to that the “not sure how to store things” and/or the “well that storage idea isn’t working so well” and other similar thoughts and I get stalled on sorting and organizing. And then throw in the “I might want/need that some day” and I’m back to square one. I have found a couple of things that I will be putting away to go to our quilt guilds brown bag action next December. And yes I will label them as such. I am determined to get my mess under control this year! (I told my daughter that if I don’t we can have a discussion about it next year – haha.)

  3. Organizing and staying organized are always on my to-do list! Every time I think I have a good system down, I buy new things that need a new home and new organization. It’s definitely an on-going goal here as well!

  4. I guess the biggest tool in my arsenal right now is limited space! With a three room apartment (okay, four if you count the bathroom!), I have to really consider purchases carefully. My mom finally got her stuff really organized after building an entire garage and a climate controlled room over it full of shelves and bins! Best of luck with your organizational efforts.

  5. So similar here! I usually have a sort out between Christmas and New Year. i think I must have missed it the year before. The priority is the room where I paint and the motivation is that I have classes coming to the room.
    I still have the garage to tackle.

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