I have been in a “cleaning out” mode lately. We have talked about downsizing in the next few years. I always joke that I am on a five-year plan for decluttering and the time just keeps getting shorter.
Looking around at my studio, I realized that it could use a healthy cleaning. So I started sorting through books, fabrics and art supplies. Gosh, we quilters, sewists and artists certainly do accumulate a lot. I know I will appreciate the open space in which to create. Here are some tips if you are facing that increasing pile, or piles, of stuff:
Start With a Plan
Start with a plan. As I started thinking about the decluttering process, I realized I was really curating my space — selecting, organizing and presenting. The first questions you could ask is what do you want your space to say and how do you want it to function for you.
If you are a fan of Marie Kondo and her Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you can use that as a guide. She suggests taking everything out of the shelves and closets by type and then going through it. For example, you will take out all the magazines or all the books or all the art supplies. Then you will ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Sparking joy may not be your thing in this instance, as joy may not be sparked until your project is finished. Better questions might be: “Do I want to keep this?” “Will I really use this?” “Would I buy this again?” You probably have some that will work for you.
As you go through the process, try to work the emotion out of it. You have little dreams attached to much of your craft clutter and it is hard to let it go. I know all about that. I found skeins of lovely wool that I got back in my 20s to knit a sweater. Yes, I can picture how pretty that sweater would be. I found a half-finished woven rattan stool from my 30s. I found small wooden boxes left from tole painting days. I will never live long enough or be interested enough to finish or use these supplies I have been hoarding. Yet, I continued to let my head rule the day, saying someday I might get to them. As long as I am talking about emotion, I might as well throw guilt into the mix. Yes, guilt over money spent or maybe guilt because you rescued the items from family members and now don’t want to get rid of them. I guess you took on their guilt!
Going Through The Stash
Your studio is likely filled with a variety of materials that you’ve collected for decades. It is time to be ruthless as you sort through your materials. Remember why it is that you are actually doing this. Here are some tips:
Do you really need all those back issue of your favorite quilt or art magazine?
I have gotten better over the years, but the stack can get out of control. Now I try to decide when they arrive if I want to keep all of the magazine. In most cases, it is an article I want to read or a technique I want to try. I will tear out the article and then file it in a manila folder by topic.
If you are highly techie, you could even scan the articles and toss the originals.
I also have a master list in a notebook of “someday” ideas and projects. I will note the existence of the article and how I filed it. Periodically I go through the files. Something that sparked an interest a few years back may have lost its luster, and it is easy to toss now. After all, you will never live long enough to try every project.
What about the books you have on the shelf?
Is your fabric or paint collection in need of paring down?
And, how about those other supplies — buttons, beads, brushes, oh my?
Getting Rid of What You Don’t Keep
I know it is hard to get rid of “stuff,” and it can be overwhelming to do it all at once. If you can’t set aside a full day, block several hours in consecutive days just to clear out what you don’t want. Sort it into three piles – items to keep, items to donate, and items to trash. I know many people say add a fourth pile for stuff that needs to be fixed. I used to go by that theory, until I realized I did not want to fix the stuff. It is your choice here.
If you did a good job of curating, you have lots that you no longer want. Deciding you don’t want it and having it leave your studio or house are different. It is easy to toss the items that are broken or no longer useable. Here are some ideas for the rest:
- Donate to your local art or sewing guild. They may have “yard sales” annually.
- Sell the items on ebay, Craigslist or other online sources.
- Donate books to the public library.
- Host your own studio sale and advertise to your network and online.
- Donate supplies to local nursing homes. They often have craft days and need supplies
- Find a young person interested in art and help get them started.
Once you have done this, you will be happy with the cleaner space. You will have more time to create and enjoy what you create. And as one of my friends says, you’ve made space for your muse to show up!
It’s your turn!
What is your favorite tip or two for how you get your stash under control and where do you donate your unwanted supplies?