Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Organizing a Studio

One of the biggest problems in a studio, is organization. The fiber arts tends to have a gazillion bits, pieces, tools, gadgets, paints, etc. Because it is such a versatile medium, we tend to amass a lot of other mediums to put with our fibers. This can make the need to organization crucial to a clean, inspiring and functional studio.

The first issue, is obviously how to store our fabrics. When I first started doing fiber arts, I did not have a convenient studio location in the house. A small bedroom in our upstairs served as a "storage area", while my actual work was done in a tiny dining area in the kitchen. This meant we could not eat in the kitchen, nor was the mess of creation easily hidden when company was over. My fabric storage at the time was the rubber tubs. While this works okay, I found that every single tub I got, no matter the brand would leave that awful smell in my fabrics. It also did not allow me to easily see my fabrics to use, which meant I found it easier to go buy new fabric for each project, than to dig through the tubs.

My second studio location was in an arts building in the Minneapolis Arts district. Here I stored my fabrics on metal kitchen racks. This would have been okay, except I never really got around to folding the fabrics uniformly, which takes up a lot of extra space as a result.

My new studio in our new home, has built in bookshelves. When I first started setting up the studio, I again did not uniformly fold them. This resulted in the fabrics taking up two double bookshelves - or half my storage area. Not acceptable. I spent the next month (plus!) ironing fabrics and folding them using the 6" x 24" ruler method. It was a miracle, suddenly what took four bookshelves previously, fit on two!

I also found that because they were adjustable height shelves, I was able to store my bolts of fabric on them as well:

The best purchase I have made for my studio so far, are three rolling kitchen islands:

I used these to organize a lot of my surface design elements, especially my paints. In order to save myself from having to take the drawers out each time to see my paint colors, I simply put a dab of the color on the top of the bottles to easy color finding. (Those without the colors are Dye-Na-Flows paints, which I found didn't work well to put the color sample on the top!)

 I am unable bring myself to throw away some magazines: Quilting Arts, Fiber Arts, Quilter's Newsletter and for those that remember it, the $100,000 Quilt Contest! One thing I have learned, is to use the plastic holders to keep them organized, and to make it easier to clean and dust the shelves from time to time. 

Another issue, always seems to be thread storage. Again, I've tried many ways of doing this, and many different containers. Finally this spring, I found a container that I really like that works with most of my threads, I found them at Joann's and they are by ArtBin.

My new best friend these days, has been the $20 labeler I got at the office supply store! It's amazing how much time and frustration it can save. I use the labeler in combination with the clear tubs that I buy at Target, and suddenly it's much easier and faster to find my notion, etc. I even label my kitchen islands so I know where everything goes, and also so when I have classes it's easier for students to find things if they should need to.

I am also a firm believer that you need to have things you love in your studio, even if they aren't necessarily related to your art. Examples? In my studio I have: Toys from my childhood including a Darth Vader case with Star Wars figurines inside, a Care Bear, a plush Simba doll, several small plastic sea creatures, and Christmas lights! I adore Christmas, so having some lights in the studio can cheer me up even on the dreariest days!

As much as I would love to stay I thrive in chaos, it's not really true. When I start out in a clean and organized studio, the flurry of creativity that rushes from me nearly knocks me off my feet. I've come to realize that a messy studio is the end result usually, which is why I have always mistakenly believed I thrive in that situation. In reality, I thrive in the cleanliness which ultimately leads to the chaos. The key now, is to keep cleaning up that chaos when I am done. I am starting myself on a once a week studio clean, with mini cleanups each day. We'll see how it goes!

How about you? Do you have an nifty organizing techniques you use in your studio? We'd love to hear about them!

***NOTE*** krkerler - You still have not claimed your prize. If we don't hear from you by this Friday, we will have to draw a new winner! So please, get in touch with us at thefibernation@gmail.com!

1 comment:

  1. I love my wire basket drawers from Ikea -- which they of course lowered the price on about a month or two after I bought them! They hold all my fabric neatly and allow for plenty of air circulation. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S19876454