Sunday, August 27, 2006

About Stuff

My friend Mary asked me today:
"Do you have a "mantra" for getting rid of stuff in the studio? I need help!"

I guess the best thing to share with you about getting rid of stuff is just to explain what goes through my head as I clean and organize. First of all, I tackle one area at a time. If you try and look at the big picture, it's far too overwhelming. So I start with something like cleaning off the top of my desk for example. I put everything back in it's place. If I have stray paper bits lying around then I cut them into usable sized pieces (like ATC size or whatever) and any scraps left from that go into the scrap box for other projects. Ephemera goes back into the ephemera drawers. Ribbons get tucked back into the ribbon box. Anything that is garbage, hits the can.

I am really good at purging. If I look at something and don't think I will use it or I have too much of it, I think about who I know who might want it. Luckily, I have lots of artist friends who can take extras off my hands. Failing that, I keep a box of "stuff" for my students, but I make sure that box never gets too full or it becomes a problem. They love having a box of goodies to poke through during class and I tell them to help themselves to whatever they can use.

Another way I have found to tame the bits is to keep an envelope on my desk. As I have bits and pieces left over from my work, I pop it into the envelope. Once it's full, I send it off to my friend Linda. She does the same and that way we get to work with little bits of something new every now and again. It's fun to get an envelope of scraps in the mail!

Often I have donate extras either to a local school for art classes or to an art therapist who uses odds and ends when she works with her clients. If I really can't think of anyone to give things to, then I load whatever it is into my car and pop it in the charity drop boxes the next time I am off running errands. I have several of these in my neighbourhood on various routes and they are a life saver. It's also a win-win situation because I get to clear some stuff out and the charity gets to make some money.

Here are a few things I keep in mind when it comes to art supplies:

-Use it or lose it. If you aren't using it on a semi regular basis, then you are just warehousing it and what's the point?

-Simplify. Sometimes less really is more. It's better to have some well made, top of the line tools and supplies you use religiously and get satisfaction out of than to have lots of cheap stuff that does nothing for you. If you have less stuff then it's also easier to keep organized. I personally want to spend my time making art, not searching all over for what I need to make it!

-Borrow! If you need something like a Japanese Screw Punch for one project, why go out and buy it? Do you really need it?!? Surely you can borrow it from a friend. Just be sure you are careful with their things and return them!

What has made it easy for me to share what I have is that I really think of myself as a steward of my stuff. If I can't use it, then I am going to find someone who can. I think too often we let our stuff own us instead of the other way around. The stuff in your life should enhance your life, not rule it! There's a natural law of ebb and flow. You can't have new stuff come into your life without letting some of the old stuff go. And really, doesn't it just feel good to share?


Lori S-C said...

Perfect timeing for this information, as I am back to the big dig in my studio today! I can definitely use your wisdom as
I attempt to purge some of this stuff! Will try to post some before and after pics on my blog this week!


Mary Stanley said...

Thanks, L. for your insightful post! I love your system and will be thinking of you as I sort and put things away today! Can't wait to finally try the punch needle too, I was waiting until the boys were back in we go..
love, M