Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist and designer. My currant emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with my wanderings on my Facebook page Drye Goods Studio.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Decluttering the Studio-Yes or No?

All I am doing these days is putting the final touches on work for the holiday shows. I can't imagine anyone wanting to see pictures of a woman doing bushels of laundry and miles of sewing. So what to write about? An article appeared in our local paper recently that was entitled something about decluttering and creativity. As it turned out the article was chock full of advise along the lines of buying lots of storage tubs and a label maker. 

I have noticed a gentle push back against Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This would be the cleaning method where you hold something in your hands and if it gives you joy you keep it, if not, out it goes. There was a meme going around not too long ago that said "I tried that Japanese cleaning method where you throw out everything that doesn't give you joy. So far all I threw out were the bills and the vegetables." Then an artistic friend of mine put up a post ranting about how she liked having all her art supplies around her, and her other stuff, and poor old Marie could buzz off (paraphrase of post). She got slightly under a zillion likes and a truly mad amount of comments on this. It struck a nerve.

Artsy-fartsy types tend to collect things. We all seem to have packrat tendencies. Although some family members may disagree, it usually doesn't amount to full blown hoarding. Just hoarding of certain things.

A few years ago, during the financial crash, I was doing some serious analysis of what we owned, why it was there and pondering how much it had cost us vs. how much it actually got used. This included the studio. The top layers of the onion were pretty easy to peel off and throw away, but then when I got into the heart of the matter it became more and more difficult to really slice into the issue. I started by simply going into each part of my studio, fabric cabinet, beading table, under the sewing tables, and on down the list. I really took a hard look at things and thought deeply about whether I would really pursue the projects for which the items were purchased. I thought about my freshly written artist statement-did this item pertain to who I said I was? With that in mind, was it practical to think this item would ever get used? If not, I thought about who might use it or enjoy having it. For instance, a mixed media artist had just joined the artist cooperative and was thrilled to receive all sorts of acrylic mediums that I had purchased that were now sitting there turning hard. She said she had a great rainy afternoon sorting through the box and figuring out how to work this new treasure trove into her work. This method of purging does make it easier to get rid of stuff, but I did finally decide that since I enjoy shopping at thrift stores it was perfectly ok to give some total stranger the gift of finding my treasures at a great price. Into the donation bag with it.

As part of this, I actually tried to get rid of all the plastic tubs or as many as possible. For starters, when things are hidden from view they are less likely to get used. It was astounding how many projects I came across, that I would have finished-if I had remembered they were lurking around to begin with. The other problem with plastic tubs is that when they get old, they seem to get weirdly sticky or get brittle and crack. If their molecular structure changes that much-are they off-gassing toxic fumes too? I decided that there were plenty of other ways to store things that were a lot prettier anyway. My studio, by the way, would never be described as beautiful or lovely, it is a practical space meant to get things done. The softer touches of baskets and old suitcases I already owned helped warm the place up a bit. My husband appreciated the tubs for hauling stuff around in the garden.

I think what turned this into a creative process was seeing all this stuff laid out together. I did think about the objects or supplies in different way than I may have when they were procured. It encouraged me to put things together in ways I had not thought of before. As it turned out, this was such a worthwhile activity that now I do it every winter when the shows are over for the year. It also provides a reminder when I am out "procuring" to think twice before buying. It helped me to actually use the stuff instead of being buried by it. The other interesting thing is that after 4 years of this, I haven't pined away for any of the things I gave away. No regrets.

Then again, there is something so intriguing about multiples.

What is a girl to do with over a hundred gray one inch buttons?

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