by Susan McCarthy
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Everyday practice: When you think, "I need more storage," Sort through what you have and determine if you will use all these items. (And, if so, this is a temporary situation that doesn't require purchasing storage."
This is the third part of a series of articles about organizing your art and craft supplies.
If you are a maker, you may have realized that having your art and craft supplies throughout your house can hamper your creativity. How frustrating is it to know you have a certain material only to waste time looking for it (and then having it show up after you’ve purchased replacements)?
In the first two articles in this series, you sorted and evaluated the supplies that you have and then considered how often you use the different materials. Now, you want to decide how to store what you use so the things you use most frequently are the most available.
Open Storage or Hidden Storage?
One of the first things to consider is whether you want to look at your supplies or not. Do you find visual clutter distracting or even upsetting? Chances are that you wouldn’t appreciate having your supplies out in the open. Here you might be better off with a cubby storage system where you can hide supplies in fabric drawers or other closed containers.
If you are an “out of sight, out of mind” person, then putting supplies in drawers or opaque boxes will cause you to lose things, no matter how well labeled the boxes are. Seeing the actual item is a huge help.
I love clear bins or drawers because they control the chaos and eliminate visual clutter while still allowing you to see the items. Pop these bins onto shelves and you can see what you have without dealing with stuff all over the place.
Stationary or Mobile Storage?
Do you have a craft room? Do you have a corner of a room that you can dedicate to your art and craft supplies? Or, are you limited in space, so you need to keep your supplies in a closet and only pull out what you are working with at the moment?
Decide if your supplies for each type of craft can fit in a storage box that you carry to where you are going to make art or if a rolling cart with drawers or lidded boxes will work best.
The problem with large bins or boxes is that if you have a lot of small supplies loose in the box, it becomes too easy to lose track of them. You might have to have a bin filled with smaller bins or rely on a rolling cart of drawers, so you can sort supplies.
For example, if you scrapbook, you know you don’t want a single bin with a jumble of paper, scissors, adhesives, embellishments, glitter, pens, paper trimmers, and all that stuff bouncing over one another because supplies will get ruined or misplaced in the mess.
Even if you have a dedicated craft space, you may have some supplies that you take with you to different places – watercolors, pastels, drawing supplies, cross stitch, knitting/crochet. There are a wide variety of cases, totes, tackle boxes, and divided boxes that allow you to take your crafts with you while keeping supplies organized.
Label Your Art and Craft Supplies
Even if you are using clear boxes, bins, or drawers, you may still want to label them. You can use a label maker or handwrite your labels. If you aren’t the only one to use the supplies, you may even want to label the edge of the shelf so that the bins are returned to the proper location (and remain easy-to-find).
Use the Art and Craft Storage You Own?
Again, whether you find visual clutter exciting or exhausting, containing items in well-labeled, clear boxes, bins, or drawers given you the best of both worlds. What if you already have fabric or yarn in opaque bins and you don’t plan on buying new bins (I wouldn’t)?
If you are using opaque containers, your key to finding what you want with ease will be based on how you sort your materials. For example, you may keep Christmas fabric in one bin with florals in another. You may group yarn by color or type or texture, depending on how you use your supplies. Once you sort your supplies, write your labels so they are specific.
Although you may balk at spending money on art and craft storage when you can use a random assortment of baskets and cardboard boxes from around your home, storing your supplies in an organized manner makes it easier for you to use your time creating beautiful things instead of looking for the materials you want.
In the final part of this series, I’ll cover suggestions for the most difficult step – maintaining organized supplies. Looking for more ideas? Check out my eBook, How to Organize Art and Craft Supplies: Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Hobbyists
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