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My Crafty Space...

According to typepad, I started this post on 1/22/09.  I've been working on it in bits and pieces for several months now.  So, it has kind of ballooned into the longest post ever.  I figured it was time to finally hit "publish"....

There are some *amazing* crafting spaces out there.  A quick internet search brings up hundreds of photos of beautiful spaces filled with light, bright paint colors, and coordinated cabinetry.  They are neat and clean and fresh.  My crafting space is not like that.  My space is ugly, cheap, and looks so very messy.  But, I love and adore it, and more importantly, it functions.  So, how about a tour?

The room is packed and so it's a bit hard to get far enough away from anything to take a photo, so here's a little drawing I did of the layout of the room:


I have two "desks," which are really banquet tables from Staples.  One desk is for play - crafty projects of all kinds -


and one desk is for work - my computer and all my home office type stuff. 


This is a recent change thanks to my friend Riv, who helped me reorganize.  Having the play desk and the work desk has been an amazing thing and really helped my productivity in both fields.

Another great thing has been to have my sewing machine out on my play desk. 


For a long, long time, it sat under my desk or in a closet and because it was a big pain to get it out, I just didn't use it that often. 


Also sitting on my play desk are my Distress Ink Pads, ink blending tools, pens, mini misters, paint brushes, ATG, and my little embellishment drawers...


...which are organized by color. 


You can see that my pens are stored in a coffee cup.  My paint brushes are stored in an old can.  Easy to find and easy to use.

I used to pick things out of the trash constantly.  Seriously. I had chairs, a couch, tables, even the platform for my bed.  But then my husband moved in and he put a stop to that.  Slowly, he's thrown away all my beloved garbage furniture.  But, one remnant that I love is this store display shelf. 


It's a wooden shelf with Odwalla burned into it. 


It sits between my two desks and holds all the stuff I want at my fingertips: my Big Bite, most used paints, paperclips, corner rounder, brayers, and my chocolate box of tools.  My chocolate box of tools is perhaps one of my most favorite storage solutions.  Here it is:


We all have a basic tool kit, right?  The things we can't live without.  Here's mine:

So, I just threw them all into an old candy box that happened to be empty.  The thing I like about the candy box is that I can put it on my desk, on my shelf, close the lid and take it to a crop, etc.  And on the shelf above my play desk I actually have the same thing, but for sewing. 


It's a baby wipe box that holds my basic machine sewing tool kit.  I like having many disparate supplies in easy to grab containers.  It makes clean up fast and creating easy.


Two of the walls of my room are lined with shelves.  The shelves and mesh drawers are from The Container Store.  Twice a year, they have a 30% off ELFA sale.  Just watch their website for it.  The shelves are a renter's dream.  They hang from a single rail that runs along the top of your walls.  It's like having built-ins that you can take with you afterwards!  I'm an enormous fan of the mesh drawers as well. 


I think I've ranted about how much I love easy storage and drawers are about as easy as you can get.  Again, I like the customizability of mixing and matching big deep drawers and small shallow drawers.  It lets me create the space I need.

So, how do I organize my shelves?  For function, really.  The things I need the least go onto the higher shelf.  The things I use sometimes go on the the lower shelf, with more frequently used things within the "L" of the two desks (so I can just stand up and grab it). 


And, as you can see, I use cardboard boxes to sub-organize.  For instance, all my Prima stuff is in a cardboard box that sits on my shelf. 


And in that box are two other boxes: (1) a shoebox for all those little embellishments, paints, etc.  and (2) a USPS box that has been converted into Cropper Hopper-like paper storage.  It's not pretty, but it's very functional.  When I want to work on something for Prima, all I do is grab the box off the shelf and go!

The drawers are also organized in the same categorical fashion.  Beads in one drawer, printer paper in another, fabric over here, and so on and so forth.  Some of the drawers are sub-categorized, like this one that holds all my pens. 


As you can see, I simply filled the drawer with plastic cups and each cup holds a certain "category" of pen.  This makes it so easy to find exactly what I want.  Again, it's not pretty, but it's cheap and functional!


I also have some drawers from IKEA in my room.  I bought them eight or nine years ago (and look, they still sell them!) for another apartment that had a kitchen with no counter space and no drawers - so very New York City.  They're plastic and have wheels.  When we moved into this apartment, our kitchen had not an inch of space, so the drawers got repurposed into craft storage.  Sort of.  Four of the eight drawers are stuffed full of purses (I'm such a girl).  The other four hold stamps, ink, paper, etc. 

I would really like to have a standing space in my room - somewhere that I could comfortably stand and create and the tops of the IKEA drawers are kind of perfect for that (just the right height), but instead I have my Klic-N-Kut and guillotine trimmer sitting on the counter.  Oh, to have more space.  But, I'm sure folks with HUGE studios wish they had just a bit more space and there's someone looking at my room who thinks I'm crazy for whining.  It's all a matter of perspective, right?  I just wish I didn't have to hunch over a table to get my rotary cutting done when I quilt, you know?  Because of that, I'm thinking of *gasp* selling my Klic-N-Kut.  It is super awesome, but it is huge and I'd kind of like the counter space.  But, that's neither here nor there.

Back to the mesh drawers.  One set sits by my work desk and I have my scanner and printer on top of it.  The other set sits between the closet and the window and has the TV on top of it. 


(Can you see me taking the picture in the reflection in the TV?)  I go through periods when the TV is always on - just blaring in the background - and times when I need absolute silence to get anything done.  Oddly enough, I'm not much of a music listener.

I believe in drawers.  I hate shelves.  Well, I don't hate shelves.  I just mean that drawers keep things hidden away and allow you to use the full depth of the space.  I also believe in labels.  I label everything. 


It helps me remember where stuff is and it helps make clean up fast.  No thinking, it just goes away!

I really like quick clean up, so I have this rolling set of folders/drawers:


The bottom drawer is most used tools (some favorite punches, acrylic blocks, my dymo labeler, etc.).  The second drawer is adhesive.  Anything that sticks one substance to another gets tossed in that drawer.  I often use several different kinds of adhesive on a single project, so I like to have them all close by.  The file folders hold alphabet stickers and patterned paper scraps arranged by color.  Ever since I started storing my scraps this way, I actually use them!

As for the rest of my paper...depending on your point-of-view, I'm either cheap or a lover of our planet.  All of my paper is in these repurposed boxes I received in the mail. 


I tape them up, cut an opening, and voila: vertical storage similar to the Cropper Hopper Vertical Storage.  I store my cardstock by color and then my patterned paper separately, but still by color.  Then I have one file that is for "multi-colored patterned paper."  I also love to use these files for storing design team work.  When the supplies come in the mail, I just slip them into a labeled box and then I know exactly where it all is!

My other nod to the environment, is that I use a rag instead of paper towel after paper towel.


And I'm pretty proud of the binder clip method of keeping it at hand.  Kind of clever, right?  Anyway, when I'm done with my rag, I put it in with my fabric scraps and use it to make a quilt or other mixed media piece!

Speaking of fabric....


I store fat quarters on a Clip-It-Up.  Large amounts of fabric (more than a yard) go in the mesh drawers.  Small scraps go in plastic gallon bags (sorted by color). 


The bags are simply push pinned into two bulletin boards behind my door.

The side of my filing cabinet (which besides files holds all the crafty magazines that I'm archiving) holds all my foam stamps (held on by magnets) and some bags of fabric for a Dear Jane quilt I'm working on.


I'm sure that this post makes it feel like this room is huge.  It's actually quite small.  It's only 10x14, or 104 square feet.  Seems silly to have so much to say about a room so small, but every inch is packed.  I could go on and on about every shelf and every drawer and every box...but I won't.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my crafty space!  Let me know if you have any questions!