Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm exhausted but at least I'm organized!

Phew!  Operation Organization turned out to be a bigger project than I realized!  The smartest thing I did for the project was enlist the help of my sister, Valerie.  Thanks for your help, sister!

The project was great on many levels.  One, I now have a clean and organized studio that I am itching to get back to work in.  Two, I learned a lot about my creative journey as I sorted through projects I made years ago.  Wow, has my work evolved (and am I ever grateful that it has).  Three, I no longer have stale supplies or books.  Four, I found a lot of things I had forgotten about.

My studio space is about 25' long by 13' wide  I've divided it up into several work areas so it is tough to get a good "overall" photo so I'll show it to you in sections.

My fabric stash is directly opposite the entrance and is a beautiful introduction to my wonderful space.  As part of the re-org project, I went through all of the fabric and culled out all the fabric that no longer "spoke" to me - about EIGHTY POUNDS of it!  Yikes!  Some went to my sister, some to friends and some to my Goddaughter to take on her next mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  I cleaned out my stash and made a bunch of people happy - how fun is that???  I still have more fabric than I can use in a lifetime.... in some circles that would be considered strange but I know that you all understand, LOL.

Opposite the fabric area is my worktable for collage, handmade books, stenciling, etc.  There used to be a sofa bed in this area but nobody ever slept in it or sat on it because it was covered in piles of fabric and art supplies.  So, out went the sofa bed and in came three Ikea bookcase units that Val and I assembled.  I moved all my mixed media supplies and some equipment, like my Cricut, into the shelves.  Colorful baskets help it look neat and I love having everything at arms length.  The tall skinny cabinets on the left came from Home Decorators Collection and hold much of my collage stash, sorted by subject.
Under the window I have my bead cart (from Dick Blick).  I love the rainbow colored drawers and have sorted my bead stash by color in the coordinating drawer.  It is SO easy to find the right color beads quickly.  There are four more drawers on the bottom (they are purple).  The drawers pull out easily so I can take the whole drawer to my work table and keep things under control.  Love this! 

Next is my desk which houses my computer, laser and ink jet printers and related supplies.  We re-arranged this space and added a two book case units (one tall, one short) to house my journals, stationary and office supplies. It is a wonderful to have it all organized instead of in toppling piles!  Two organizational items in that area that I especially love are the wooden rack for my re-inkers (a tag sale find) and the lucite cubes I found at Office Max to organize my markers (which I wanted to store flat to extend the life of the markers).  
The other side of the room is where my cabinets start - what a find they were!  We got them nine years ago when we originally renovated my studio space.  A contractor friend of ours was doing a kitchen expansion not far from our home.  His client wanted to sell the original cabinets and we got them for just $500.  We paid him another $500 to install them and the pre-made Home Depot countertops we picked up for under $500.  For $1,500 I wound up with great storage and twenty-one feet of countertop. All we did in the re-org project in this area was to sort, sift and toss.  Much better!
This is the area I use for rubber stamping, card making, collage & journaling.  The gray shelves on the left were a tag sale find - pre-made & painted wooden trays that I made into a rack to hold my rubber stamps.  On the wall to the right is an old cassette rack which is perfect for holding stamp pads.  The shelf to the right of that is another tag sale find - I know it was meant to be mine because the shelves are exactly the right height for bottles of Lumiere paint.  The cabinets hold collage and assemblage items, envelopes, paper and countless doo dads and gee gaws. 

 I'm skipping pictures of the next section because it is just more cabinets.  The only thing of interest there is a small shelf unit I built to hold the countless bottles of glue, mediums, and other liquid stuff in bottles.  At one time I was going to put a sink in the countertop below this unit but I've decided I like the countertop better.  I have a laundry sink in the next room so I can live without another sink in here. 

This cart is another new addition, from Ikea.  It has wheels so I can roll it to my easel or to my work table.  Three shelves hold paint, meduims, water jars & paintbrushes.  Love this!

My sewing table is on the other side of the room (behind the desk area).  My table is a large closet door that sits on top of a short book case and a couple of file cabinets.  I love having a large area to work on and can clear it all off if I have someting big to cut.  I covered the door with peel-n-stick tiles so it would be smooth and easy to cleaan.  My ironing board is nearby so I just spin in my chair, iron, and return to sewing.  What you can't see is the stuff UNDER the table.  I've got a couple of large scrap bins & boxes of vintage linens under there - have to use all available space!  This area was a mess, covered in piles of fabric and works-in-progress. Extra things have been put away and this area is ready to work in again.


Before entering my studio, I pass through a foyer area that leads to the back door.  Years ago, I had custom book cases built and they house my huge book collection.  It had gotten pretty messy so we took all the books off the shelves, culled out the ones I no longer wanted and re-organized them into more meaningful "departments".  I took out hundreds of magazines that I have been saving and I'm in the process of going through them and tearing out only the articles that I want.  It seems silly to save the whole magazine when I only want five pages.  For now I will keep them in binders but eventually I envision scanning them and keeping them as electronic files.  "Operation Organization" extended into what I call the "Studio Annex" which is the unfinished portion of our basement.  We cleaned, sorted, threw out and organized.  We installed four sets of steel shelves and added narrow shelves to them to house my paper collection (a great alternative to spending a lot of money on flat files).  My canvases, paper, and equipment are all nicely organized now.  What a relief it is to have this all done!  Time for me to get back to studio work - having my hands on all these supplies leaves me longing to do something with them.   Stay tuned for posts about what I'm up to.


  1. Gail, Beyond impressive. I'm inspired!

  2. wow! what a fab studio! looking forward to more art soon!

  3. "Do not covet your neighbor's goods." Oh, well, I guess I broke that commandment. It looks fabulous! What a great job and worth all the effort.