Quick Organising Tip

If you’ve decided to organize your work space, or your entire home for that matter, don’t head to the store for more storage totes. You’ll want to wait with that because you’re going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff.  Stuff you are storing in something currently.

After my purge/reorganization of my work space, I have huge totes filled with empty storage containers.  These are my purchased storage.  The stuff I made I pitched (it was looking pretty rough). And a lot of the stuff I bought last week at Ollies and Big Lots are also in those totes.  Turns out I didn’t need most of them after all.

Although I knew I’d be purging my room, it never occured to me I’d have empty storage pieces.  Much less the huge amount I’ve got.  I would estimate 75% of the stuff directly outside my workroom is empty storage units and containers.  These need to be corralled and contained because there are piles everywhere.  Do yourself a favor and wait to buy/ make additional storage until you know exactly what you’re keeping.

I am not inclined to donate all these extras.  We are planning to move across the country as soon as we can make that work.  The totes and things may come in handy then.

Another suggestion.  Think of your purged items as a blessing for others.  Donating what you no longer want to a school, a women in transition center or an extended care facility will be a tremendous gift for them. Art helps people in so many ways.  Donating your unloved/unused supplies to those who can really benefit from them makes it much easier to part with your stuff.


DIY Journaling Blocks

During the Konmari Purge/Organization I found a lot of stuff I forgot I had.  Or never knew I had it in the first place.  One of these surprises was two thick pieces of plastic 6″ x 8 1/2″ with perforations on one side.  These seem to have come from a small planner or journal.

I went through my stencils and found a couple with simple border edges.  I drew them onto the plastic pieces with black marker.  Then I cut them out with the stencil tool made by Plaid and purchased at JoAnn’s.  One is a shallow, curved edge, very much like Dyan Reaveley’s Journaling block.  The second one is large scallops.

The plastic is much thicker than the normal stencil blanks, so it took a couple passes to cut all the way through.  But it worked great.  I have the smaller pieces I cut from the plastic for use in a travel kit or whatever I want.  And while the edges are not perfectly smooth, that can be easily corrected with a marker or paint over the pencil line.  Two different journaling blocks for nothing.  The plastic was found and I had already bought the stencil cutter.  You can cut the plastic with a craft knife, but I have had trouble with this in the past due to my hand problems.  The heated tool works great.

Okay, I Think I Might

have an organization problem.  I can’t seem to stop.  

I just finished sorting, pitching and organizing a shelf in one of the big bookcases.  I also emptied and organized a file cabinet.  From the file cabinet I kept less than one full file folder.  Pitched everything else.  The file folder is now in the bookcase, the storage unit is out of here.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I keep specific projects in plastic shoe box totes from Dollar Tree.  They hold everything needed to work on whatever project is in it.  This includes scissors and adhesives.  Well, one shelf is empty now.

Obviously I kept things which can be used for other projects I still do and put some more in the donate pile, but the rest of it-gone!  One more large trash bag is filled.  From one shelf and six file folders.  That’s a whole lot of dumping going on.

I think I’ll slowly work my way through the book shelves too.  I didn’t realize how much stuff I can get rid of there.  I’m a note taker.  I have binders and folders filled with notes I’ve made for home improvement, my own DIY recipes, designs for projects I was thinking about making, etc.  And some of these notebooks only have a couple things in them.  What a waste of space, which I have little of.  It’s easier to type that stuff up and save it on my computer.  Takes no physical space in my room and can be categorized easily.

Where my heart is hurting is my books.  I have a feeling I’m going to have to purge some of them.  None of my bible research books but I have a lot of others which may need to go.  And I should organize all my bible research stuff anyway.  I have several binders full of notes and information I’m using to write bible studies.  Again, that can all be put on my computer to save space. This would also free up three ring binders and page protectors for use with my stamps.  So this will be a good thing, once I wrap my head around it.

The five drawer storage unit is empty now.  I’ll go through the two Raskog carts and organize that stuff better too.  I can fill each drawer with a type of art journal supply.  The carts can hold the papers for signatures, stuff for the covers, the book binding materials and the adhesives.  I’m not sure exactly how I’ll set them up yet, but they will hold far less than they do now.

And now that the work room is usable again, I can make my art there instead of upstairs.  Which was very inconvenient, to be honest.  I’m looking forward to creating and seeing if the changes make the experience more enjoyable.  At the very least my supplies will be easier to get to.  That alone is a huge step forward.

Art Room on a Budget

As I’ve mentioned, I have been checking out Pinterest and watching you-tube videos for storage ideas for small spaces.  One thing I’ve noticed is the word budget means very different things to different people.

I don’t consider an art room filled with Ikea furniture, cupboards, counters, drawers, shelves, etc. to be a budget room.  Evidently many do.  That’s fine for them, but for me it has to be as close to free as possible.  Since I’m sure there are others in the same boat, I thought I’d share some of my cheap studio/workroom ideas with you.

First, shop through your house.  Old dressers, desks, tables, shelves, shoe racks, door pulls, lights and lamps, etc.  Old doors which are flat work well as a work surface.  The nine hole cubbys (like the ones on the back wall of my workroom) can be used as the legs for the work table.  I bought half of mine at second hand stores or at yard sales.  The rest were bought on sale at huge discounts.

Before I was able to afford to purchase these I used cardboard boxes for my storage.  (Not as table legs!)  These worked pretty well.  I kept the boxes from Aldis and Save-A-Lot then covered them with wrapping paper I had on hand.  I have a quilter’s desk unit now, which was discounted due to superficial damage.  A folding table would work too, or a piece of plywood on saw horses.

My plastic drawer units were all purchased second hand, except one.  And that was on sale for half price.  The two white cupboards and shoe cubby came from our local Habitat for humanity store, if I remember correctly.  Which is a great place to buy cabinetry, should you need some.  Measure your space before you leave the house so you know if what you’re considering will fit.  Also, don’t worry about the color of  the cabinets.  You can paint them any color you want.  You can also find lights, work tables, shelves, chairs, office furniture, peg boards, cork boards, wall hooks, door knobs, hinges, paint, brushes and rollers…It’s a wonderful place to find everything you need to make an art space for cheap.

But before you do that, tell family and friends you’re looking for whatever it is you need.  They may know someone who is remodeling, or may even have some of the stuff you need themselves.  They may even give the stuff to you for nothing.  Free is a beautiful thing!

Keep your eyes open while driving.  I have found some really great stuff along side the road.  My work bench in the back room and the drop leaf table are just two examples of roadside finds.  We brought them home, I sanded, primed and painted them.  They are both used all the time.

Things like back of the door plastic hanging shoe holders work really well for storing larger bottles and cans.  Great for  sprays, mediums, adhesives, cleaning supplies.  Save the plastic containers with lids from cottage cheese or whipped topping.  These are nice for embellishment storage.  Mason jars with lids are also good options.  Dollar Tree has lots of containers which work well for craft and art supplies.  Foam core can be used to make all sorts of storage.  I buy mine from Dollar Tree and it works great.

Harbor Freight has a lot of stuff you can use in an art space.  So do hardware stores, home improvement stores, kitchen/restaurant suppliers, office supply stores, second hand stores, overstock and scratch and dent stores.  You can also find some really good deals at yard sales and estate sales.

Of course if you or a loved one likes to build stuff, you’re really lucky.  You can customize everything to your specific needs.  And you can buy wood at Habitat for humanity too.  My husband built my bookcases, which double as my walls for my work room.  He has the stuff all cut for the third.  I really should paint those before he puts it together.  It’s easier that way.

As I’ve mentioned before, good lighting is essential in your work space.  I use Ott lights, all bought on sale, for my task lights.  I have a natural light florescent in the ceiling and a hanging chandelier over my work surface too.  This is one area I feel is very important.  More important than any other stuff in the room.  It’s important for your health and your art. Even though Ott lights are expensive, even on sale, they are worth every penny.  If your funds are limited, spend it on good lighting.

And remember, it’s your space.  Use whatever you have to make it uniquely yours.  And don’t become discouraged when you see the gorgeous rooms on Pinterest or you tube.  You don’t need a magazine worthy space to create amazing art.



It’s Finished!

Work room after Konmari Method

Here is my work room.  Let’s go on the grand tour, shall we?




As you can see, the room is small.  I’m standing in the doorway for the first photo.  The shoe cubby holds my essentials.  Beside that on one side is my acrylic paint storage and my stamping station on the other.  Above is the three drawer box with Inktense, Graphitint and Gelato-type media.  The tools are also there.

The pink drawer box is from Michael’s.  It holds my pens, acrylic blocks for stamping, small ink pads, etc.  Above it sits my embossing stuff.  Beside that is the water-soluble cupboard with my pastel box on top.  This also holds my stamp cleaner and anti-static bags.  Inside the cupboard are my smaller, filled watercolor palettes, sprays, and extra palettes and paints.

Next is the side of the workdesk.  I moved the small drawer unit here, which holds art journal papers, ephemera, homemade and coffee stained pages, etc.  Beside that is the foamcore ink pad holder.  My husband will hang it from the desk when he has time.

The enamel top table holds my wire cube storage with all my remaining full sized sheets of paper.  The pink tote beside it holds the 8 1/2 x 11″ paper.  Above the wire racks are baskets holding my current projects.  On one side of the table is the gifted-to-me Ikea cupboard.  Inside is an organized assortment of things.  This cupboard held almost nothing I actually used.  It was just a catch all for things I had no place to go with.  The two carts are filled with art journal materials.  I will be going through these more thoroughly, after my back improves.  On the other side of the table is a nearly empty 5 drawer cart.  I’m thinking about what to do with this.

The cupboard beneath the hanging dollhouse is next.  This cabinet was nearly empty.  I wasn’t able to reach it to use it.  Now it holds more books for art journaling (the extras which didn’t fit into the small bookcase), my adhesives, larger xyron tools, extension cords, and foamcore cut to the patterns for more storage boxes.

The wall of cubbys has been Konmari’d too.  Most of what’s left is seasonal projects, extra art media, trims, flowers and miniature supplies.  I tossed tons from this wall of canvas totes.  I haven’t gone through my displayed treasures above the cubbys yet, but I will.  And since Laurie and I had sorted through the large bookcases not that long ago, I just did a quick sort this time around.

While this has felt like an overwhelming project at times, it’s worth doing.  I’ll live with this set up for awhile to see how well it works for me.  I plan to purge the room again in a few months, once I have a better idea of exactly what I need and what can go.  I was pretty conservative with the pitching of stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I got rid of A LOT.  But I’m sort of feeling like I’m at a transitional period with my art.  I’m not sure which way I’m headed yet.  Once that becomes clear to me, I’ll be able to get rid of those things that are no longer part of my art journey.










DIY Paper Storage

Organization is a all about being flexible.  Some of your great ideas turn out to be impractical, unusable, or unsuitable for your purpose.  Which was the case with my pizza box idea for 12×12 paper storage.  The weight of the paper made the use of cardboard pizza boxes impractical.  They bowed in the middle which was both frustrating and unsuitable for my needs.  So I used the Wire Cube Storage found at big box stores.

Instead of using them to make several cubes, I made two cubes and added the remainder of the wire squares as shelves within those two cubes.  I had 22 wire squares, which made two cubes with six shelves in one and seven in the other. Use zip ties to hold the wire squares together. Make sure the flat side faces inward for the cubes and is the top of the shelves.  Otherwise the paper will hang up on the “lip”.

I think I emptied six or seven plastic totes which held the 12×12″ paper, as well as my 8 1/2 x 11″ paper storage too. They are in a tote beside the wire racks of 12 x 12″ papers. Now all the remaining full sheets of paper are on top of the enamel top table, easy to see and grab.  Since the plastic 12 x 12″ paper totes are empty, I’ll use a couple on the top of the metal cubes to hold my projects in progress.

This brings me (finally) to the cubby/canvas tote wall.  I’ve ended up with eleven empty cubbys, thirteen if you don’t count the two which hold the empty canvas totes that fit in the cubbys.  There was a lot of tossing out in this area.  Mostly recyclable stuff.  I removed the fabric and put it in a large tote, stored in the back room with the rest of the fabric.  I’ve filled two large totes with storage containers which are now empty.  I pitched my homemade storage boxes.

The area on the side and back of my work table was also de-cluttered.  The side now holds a small Iris cart with my stencils and other art journaling necessities.  My excess art supplies were purged and now fit into a canvas tote on the cubby wall. The stuff beneath the desk is gone too, and I honestly can’t recall what any of it was right now.  So obviously it was vitally important to my art…By moving the Iris cart, I cleared a space next to the cubby wall.  I think I’ll empty the other five drawer cart which stands there too. Then get that out of the room.

And I finally made the decision to use my Grandma’s iron on transfers in my art journals.  I’m not going to be doing much embroidery anymore, as my nerve damage makes it very challenging.  So I think she’d be pleased I found a way to use them.  And there are hundreds of them.  She saved all of them from a magazine she used to get.  The transfers are very old and fragile.  Perfect for art journaling.

While the purge/reorganization of my work room is taking a long time, it’s been worth the effort.  In spite of pulling a muscle in my back.  I’ve pitched so much stuff the room outside of mine looks like one of those hoarder nightmares.  Boxes and bags of stuff I no longer want or use stacked to my waist.  This may have to wait to be thrown away until we rent the dumpster this summer. Simply because there’s so much already, and I’m not through everything yet.  (Once the workroom is finished, I’m heading into that room next. Emptying the totes of stuff in there too. It might take me awhile to get to it though.  This process is really exhausting.)  And the work top has been refilled with stuff I need to sort through, but at least I can sit while doing that.  The back spasms are unpleasant.





Well, It Was Clean…

The workspace, desktop, and area all around it were cleaned, organized and beautiful!  Then I started on the cupboard and enamel top table.  What an amazing mess that made!  And it all landed on my pristine work table.

Here’s what I discovered.  When Laurie and I moved my workroom around, I put the multi-sectioned (DIY) desk top storage boxes on shelves in this gifted-to-me  Ikea cupboard. (It’s very similar to this one, only dark brown with several shelves.)  And once they were in that cupboard, I never went into them again. In fact, everything in that cupboard was out of sight-out of mind.  So I went through it and discovered it held mostly dumpable stuff.  I saved the small, plastic storage boxes I bought from Dollar Tree and Ollies and pretty much pitched everything else.

Now this cupboard holds my finished journals, my hand lettering books, papers and supplies, store-bought journals, coloring books, lined notebooks, and ribbon storage.  I have an empty shelf left in it.  All this stuff came from my bookcases and the enamel table top (which is now cleared of everything).

It’s amazing what you find when doing this.  I knew I had a large selection of children’s books for art journaling but couldn’t find them.  And then I also discovered a magazine holder filled with hand lettering books, pens, nibs and ink.  I had no idea I had these.  Both were hidden at the far edge of the bookcase, where the curtain gathers when its open.  And I found several more of my favorite Strathmore Visual Journals.

My plan is to empty the 12×12 paper storage totes and put the paper into my pizza box storage on the enamel topped table.  This way they are easily accessible, yet protected from dust.  Three fit across the table top perfectly.  I plan to pick up four more, which will give me three rows, four boxes per stack.  Plenty for plain, patterned and homemade paper.

I moved the markers to the wire shelf on the small bookcase.  I never use them because they were stored in that closed cupboard.  This did require me to move my brushes back to my work table, but that’s not much on the work surface, compared to before.  I moved the shelves in the water-soluble cupboard and now my sprays all fit in there.  Much more accessible and easy to reach.

And, of course, I dumped a ton of stuff.

As I make my way through the room, I’m pleasantly surprised by the treasures I’m finding.  I’m also stunned by all the crap I kept.  As I work through everything, I’m writing down project ideas for supplies I’m finding along the way.  I think I need a label maker.  That would be really handy.

One thing I’ve noticed while searching for small space storage solutions on you-tube and Pinterest is the beauty of the craft/art rooms on both.  Everything matches perfectly, the colors are lovely, all the storage is purchased for their specific purpose…My work space will never look like those pristine, pretty rooms.  My storage units were given to me or purchased from secondhand stores and yard sales.  They are a mish-match of all sorts of things, including my DIY cardboard and foamcore storage.  If this is also your reality, here are a couple tips to make your space more visually cohesive.

  1. Pick your main color for your storage units.  Mine is white, but one bookshelf and the Ikea cabinet are dark brown.  I plan to remove the bookcase once my husband finishes the one meant to go there, which matches the other two he made. They will all be white, and the one he needs to finish is much larger than the current one I’m using. (These make up my room’s wall.  Since this workspace is part of the large family room/game room.)
  2. I’m going to paint the Ikea gifted-to-me storage cupboard white.  By having all the larger storage units the same color, they look like they go together, even though they don’t.  I also have white curtains which close over the two big bookcases to limit the visual clutter.
  3. I cover my cardboard storage with white paper, and the foam core stuff is white too.
  4. My accent colors are pink, and teal.  The teal was added because that’s all there was when I went shopping for more canvas totes which fit in my 9 cube storage units.  My entire back wall of the space is 9 cube units found at second hand stores and Walmart.  My plan is to sort through all those canvas totes, hopefully emptying several of them, and then getting rid of the non-pink ones.  I have no problem having open cubbys.  I can use them for displaying either my art or my decorative stuff.
  5. My two Ikea Raskog carts are off white, but they look fine with the rest of the stuff.  If I want, I can spray paint them white when the weather warms up.
  6. The Iris carts are a mish-mash of colors.  I purchased these at second hand stores and yard sales.  I haven’t decided whether I want to spray paint them or not.  But one thing that does make them look like they go together is to add consistent labeling.  By using the same color and shape label for everything in your room, it automatically looks more neat and cohesive.
  7. Clean your space.  If everything is grungy and dirty it looks disorganized and messy.  I am horrified by the condition of my room.  Dust coats every available surface.  Just wiping things down has improved the look of the space.  Each section I organize gets a thorough cleaning as I go.
  8. If you’re the type if person who needs to see everything you have, head to Dollar Tree and get matching storage tubs.  They sell all sorts if bins and containers which work really well for holding supplies.  If they all match, or use two coordinating colors, it will give your room a cohesive look.
  9. If seeing all the stuff bugs you, buy curtain rods, tension rods or dowels, and add them to the front of your storage units.  Pick a solid color fabric and make some plain curtains to cover them.  Buy a sheet set secondhand and use as your fabric, if you prefer.  My window and shower curtains were made from two flat sheets I found at Walmart for less than 5 bucks each.
  10. Wisely use the space you do have.  Go upward onto your walls.  Peg boards, cork boards, shelves, rods with hanging metal buckets, curtain rods to hold stamps, larger diameter PVC pipe cut to size and hung from a wall can hold markers, pencils, scissors, rulers, tools.
  11. Purge often.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t use.  It clutters your space and your brain.

The space between the desk and cubby wall is finished.  That cupboard now holds lots of supplies I use but don’t need at my fingertips.  The easel is out and the two carts are in its place.  The extra storage boxes I’m collecting from all the purging I’m doing are stored in a large tote outside the room.  I found a secure place to store my small and medium canvases.  My tool box is in the back room.  I have all my books for art journaling in the small bookcase and the other cupboard.  The music sheets are in a box beneath the bookcase, all these things stored near each other and easily accessible.  I’ve made my way around the room.  I have the cubby wall left to go.



Busy Night

When I can’t sleep, I have to do something.  Last night was rough, so I was really busy.  And I dove fearlessly into the desktop mess.  Yes, I know, you’re thinking “how brave!”, because all the organizing mess landed there.  But after a few hours, I can see the work surface!  It’s not cleared completely, but I’m getting there!

I emptied and reorganized the art journal cart.  It now has one empty level.  I finished the water-soluble cupboard, and even had enough room for my extra sets of paint.  I made an area for the Dollar Tree cutting mats (I use them beneath journal pages as I’m working on them), paint palettes, self healing cutting mats, foamcore boards (I tape my watercolor paper to them when making a painting), and aluminum pans (which hold messy paint projects as I work).  All conveniently located right next to me.  I used one of the wire shelves to hold the three drawer wood box on the shoe cubby and the acrylic multi-sectioned tray beneath it to hold my most used stuff.  The other wire shelf is holding my brushes, with my water tubs beneath.  And my adhesive box sits beside that.  There are several empty storage boxes now, as I pitched a ton.

And I learned a lot about how I actually work in the space.  I need a place to put projects in progress.  I’m easily bored and often work on several things at once.  I need something to hold these.  I’m removing the easel from the room.  I rarely paint at it anyway and it takes up a lot of floor space.  The rolling carts will stand there instead.  I’ve found I really like having nothing on the floor near my work table.  Gives me space to breathe.

The small bolt containers need something to hang from.  Metal rails or something.  Scott explained I didn’t buy the stuff they work with when I bought the way-on-sale containers.   They don’t stack well, take up a lot of space and aren’t working for me.  I’m donating them to Scott’s work room. (They are also the wrong color for my room-which I know is silly but really bugs me.)

Trying to resist throwing things in totes to deal with later is a real challenge for me.  As is just flat out dumping everything, which is a place I’m rapidly reaching.  As the destruction happens in each area, I grow less and less inclined to deal with the sorting.  It would be so much easier just to pitch everything and start from scratch. Yet, I will persevere.  I made the horror, I’ll clean it up.

So here’s some friendly suggestions:  don’t let your work space devolve into the nightmare that is mine.  Sort as you work.  Dump stuff.  Keep a handle on what you have and what you need, so you’re not buying more because you can’t find it.  I have four jars of triple-thick, each opened with very little used, because I couldn’t find it when I needed it.  Don’t buy an art supply that does the same thing as products you already have.  Don’t stock up on stuff if you have no room to store it.  And use what you have.  I could probably create art for the of my life with what I already have in my work room.  Yet that hasn’t stopped me from buying more at extraordinary sale prices. (And I am really trying to resist the Seth Apter Baked Textures.  Amazing!  Oh, here’s a tip- use Ultra Thick Embossing powder beneath the first layer of Baked Texture.  This will stretch your Baked Textures-which are really expensive.)

And on and on it goes.  But I’m a third of the way through the room.  And I started in the worst spot, my work desk area.  It feels like I’ve made some real progress there, at least.  I just have to keep focusing on how great it will be when I’m finished.

Oh, and I came up with two more questions I’m asking myself:  Would I buy this again?  And, would I pack this up and move it across the country?  If either answer is no, it’s out if there.




Organizing Pastels, Etcetera

Today’s efforts destoyed the workroom completely, but I’m happy with the results anyway.  My pastels were stored away from my work area.  My blending tools in an even less accessible area.  I rarely used them because of the Herculean effort it took to get to them.  Well, I fixed that today.

I cleared the tops of the water-soluble cabinet and the shoe cubby.  Washed them off and began. I have a large wooden storage box which now holds my pastels.  This box has a removable top, which can double as a paint palette.  It holds all my various types of pastels in one spot.  This box sits on top of my water-soluble media cabinet.  I put my blending tools beside this box.

I put my Inktense and Graphitint pencils in this storage unit.  I love both of these types of pencils. Because they were stored in their tins within the cupboard, I couldn’t get to them to use them.  So I separated the pencils into color families, each family in one divided section in the drawers.  I wish I had bought the four or five drawer box, rather than the three drawer as I would like to store my Inktense blocks in the same place.  But because I didn’t, I have my tins of blocks sitting beside the wood box.  My watercolor pencils are also stored here.

Now this has freed up storage for other things.  The water-soluble cupboard now has room for the rest of my palettes, my extra paints, and several pads of watercolor paper.  The places I stored the pastels and blending tools can hold supplies that are necessary, but not used all the time.

Oh, and one more quicky thing.  I separated my remaining stickers (after purging) into themes, put in ziplock bags and now have them stored in the box which held my clear stamps.  Took just a few minutes and now those are taken care of too.

Cheap DIY “Ink Sinks”

Purchase a month size pill container, and a couple bags of make up wedges/sponges from Dollar Tree.  Cut pointed end from sponge.  Put a cut sponge into each one of the pill box sections.  Add ink to each section.  You can mix your own ink colors for lots of different color combinations.