by Susan McCarthy
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Everyday practice: Keep the supplies you use all the time close at hand. Store supplies you use less frequently someplace slightly out of the way.
You love making arts and crafts, but that doesn’t mean you love chaos. While some artists and crafters thrive in a space where supplies intermingle and perhaps generate ideas for new creations; others find visual clutter draining.
In the first article in this series, How to Declutter Art and Craft Supplies', I explained how to clear materials that you no longer use or that you have in excess. When you start thinking about how you want to organize the supplies you’re keeping, consider if the organizing tools you’ve been using have helped or hindered you.
You can also find tips for taming your art and craft supplies in my eBook, How to Organize Art and Craft Supplies: Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Hobbyists.
Identify Your Organizing Needs
For example, you may have a lot of craft supplies stored in cardboard boxes. Even if you have the boxes labeled with the contents, not seeing what you have might lead you to purchasing stuff you already have. Maybe you have to paw through oversized bins to find what you’re looking for because stuff isn’t sorted.
If you like your storage, but you think you just need more, consider if you really need to declutter so you have fewer supplies. If a bin doesn’t close or a drawer doesn’t shut, is there a reason to keep everything you are storing? Temporary excess, because you’re working on holiday gifts, doesn’t really require more storage, just acceptance that the situation is temporarily more chaotic than you’d like.
The number of media you engage in, how much stuff for you have for each medium, and how often you make those types of projects affect how you organize your supplies. You want to think about this before you decide to store your supplies on your desk, a shelf, or in a closet.
Where Do You Make Art?
Do you have a dedicated workspace? Do you store supplies near the area you work? Some media are portable – if you do watercolors or knit, then you can store supplies in one place and make art somewhere else. On the other hand, if you scrapbook or make cards, you need your supplies where you do this work.
Thinking of how and where you make art can help you decide where you need to find your supplies. Don’t think that you need a dedicated craft room or a craft/office space to be organized.
When Will You Use Your Supplies?
The Art and Craft Supplies You Need Now - The supplies you need now are whatever you are using for the current project. If your current project does not use colored pencils, then you don’t want those pencils in your work area.
The Art Supplies You'll Need Soon - If you engage in a variety of media, what you need now and what you need soon may stay in flux. Today you need this, tomorrow you need that. You want the materials that you’ll need soon to be handy. You don’t want to put these supplies in a big storage box in your basement.
Can you find someplace more accessible? I know, you have limited space in your home, so you need to examine what is important to you. If you make art or you craft nearly every day, the time you are investing in creating beautiful things suggests this is a priority for you. If you do most of your crafting in the fall, then you don’t need bins of supplies in the corner of your living room.
The Craft Supplies You'll Need Later - You can define ‘later’ how you wish. Maybe every Sunday afternoon, you plan an hour or two for scrapbooking. You don’t use your supplies any other day of the week. In this case, you wouldn’t need the pens, decorative scissors, or adhesives you use to sit out on your desk.
If the other days of the week, you use your desk for sorting the mail or your kids sit there to do homework, you don’t want a Mason jar of decorative edge scissors sitting on a shelf as a distraction.
The Craft Supplies You Rarely Use - Maybe you make candles a couple of times a year or once a year for a week you make Christmas wreaths. You don’t need these supplies sitting in the corner of your living room. These supplies can live in the basement or the back of a closet. If you must shuffle around a few things to reach what you want, that isn’t a big deal since you don’t use these items that often. However, if the items are buried under so much stuff that it takes you a half hour to reach what you want, you should ask why and how so much stuff got in the way.
In Part Three, I’ll talk about the shelves, cubbies, drawers, bins, etc. that you can use to store your supplies. Along with thinking about how often you use your supplies, consider how visible you want your supplies. Would you want items in clear bins or opaque, cloth drawers? Do you need to or want to move your supplies to different locations?
I’ve been curating a board on Pinterest for organizing art and craft supplies, if you are looking for some images of organized craft rooms and spaces.
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Other helpful articles:
The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).