I like to make things… birds, collages, art, toys, assemblages…those subjects will each get their own feature at some point or another. One of my favorite places in my house is the crafty nook where I keep my art supplies and do my work. It’s a small area jam-packed with good stuff so I’ll have to spread the tour out over a few posts.
A few years ago I went to a collage workshop by one of my favorite children’s book illustrators, Saint-Gratien Melissa Sweet. She gave us a slideshow tour of her studio and let us peek into some of her supply stashes. This inspired me to do a better job organizing my own supplies for a few reasons: so I’d know what I have, so I could access things more easily, and for the tactile pleasure of sorting and cataloging and arranging these favorite objects.
A lot of my supplies are vintage or recycled…I spend less money and find more charming stuff this way, I think. Hunting for props for my assemblages or birds or whatever gives me focus at garage sales and flea markets, and meets one of my most important criteria for stuff I collect — it needs to be useful. (Maybe not today or tomorrow, but SOMEDAY!)
My workspace includes a workbench with drawers (contents to be revealed at a later date), shelves with supplies and books, and two cabinets full of tools and fabric and other miscellanea. Today we’re just visiting the items that wouldn’t require a search warrant — those things in plain sight.
A recurring favorite theme of mine is large quantities of particular kinds of objects. I don’t mean a million Precious Moments tchotchkes, but a bunch of different versions of the same thing, such as tiny chairs or buttons or whatever. (Again, a topic for a future Friday!) In the photos below you can see many vintage thimbles, buttons, and jars of items: scrabble tiles, bingo numbers and tokens, and a jar of hands. Yes, hands. I like hands and find all kinds of meaning in them.
This photo doesn’t do the colors of my buttons justice, nor does it give you any sense of the scale of my collection. This is just a small sampling of hand-picked favorites, sorted by color and material. I like to plunge my fingers into the jars of buttons like Amelie plunged her fingers into the barrel of beans in the movie of the same name.
I approach crafting much like I tackle gardening — with a general plan but plenty of room to change course as I go. I often prune unused or less loved items from my collections and pass them along to someone who will make better use of them. Sometimes I rearrange the way I group things or display them because that affects how I use the materials. Some drawers (like the magazine clippings drawer!) are quite disorganized but that’s part of the magic…happy accidents occur when you let your supplies comingle.
Every few months the clutter accumulates as I start and stop various projects. At the point when it’s so chaotic as to be unusable, I catch up on favorite TV shows (Mad Men, anyone?) while I restore order in my garden of goodies: weeding and pruning and fluffing.
What do you collect? How do you unwind? Where do you do it?