Monthly Archives: January 2017

Crafting Can Save the World (or at least your sanity)

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Frequently people ask me what I “get” out of crafting. They point out that it takes a lot of time, it can be messy, and the materials take up valuable storage space. While all of these ideas are true to some extent, crafting provides a plethora of benefits.

working-with-handsWorking with your hands invites a “can-do” attitude. Each time we create something, we learn that we are capable of creating something. I realize this sounds simplistic, but the truth in that statement can be profound. Many of us spend our lives thinking we’re not capable of doing something. We tell ourselves we could never have that job, or be in charge of that project, or finish that degree. This negative self-talk convinces us that we are not able to complete complex tasks. However, when we create, we learn through trial and error. We use productive struggle in a safe environment. After all, craft projects are not matters of life and death, so we’re allowed to get them wrong, and then fix them on the next attempt. With each small success we learn that we CAN do things; we CAN figure out how something is put together; we CAN have another shot; we CAN change our minds; we CAN learn and grow and become.

accomplishmentCrafting gives us something to show for our effort. This goes hand-in-hand with that can-do attitude by providing a sense of accomplishment. Many of us are frustrated in our jobs because at the end of the day we don’t feel like we’re any closer to success than we were the day before. This kind of frustration is rampant in my profession because as a teacher it can sometimes be years (if ever) before a student tells me how I helped him or what I taught her. While I do the best I can every day, at times I just need to feel that I finished a project so I can step back and admire my handiwork.

imaginingCrafting helps us see the world in a different way. Many of us spend our days in front of a screen – television, smart phone, computer monitor, etc. These bright, moving projections (or static lines of text – as the case may be) frame our world with visual, but non-tangible elements. (After all, we can’t pet that adorable Lil Bub no matter how many times we smile at her photo.) This removal of texture and three-dimensional objects can make the world seem flat and far-removed. When we manipulate wood, paper, fabric, beads, or paint, we come into physical contact with our surroundings. Our brains and eyes are provided with a different kind of stimuli which in turn helps us see our environment, our world, from a new perspective (not to mention giving our tired eyes a rest).

color-and-textureCrafting is cathartic. Color holds connotations for our society at large and for each of us individually. Vibrant colors like red, orange, and yellow make us feel alive and energetic spurring us to move forward. When we create something using these colors it seems to become imbued with that energy, and perhaps the creation makes us smile each time we see it on display. Colors like blue, green, and purple express another mood. Thus my studio becomes a place where I can express emotions freely without having to explain them to anyone.

giving_a_giftCrafting a gift for someone shows how much you care. I know that sometimes “homemade” conjures up images of clay ashtrays and cotton ball Santas made by our elementary-aged kiddos, but a piece of art contains a lot of heart. (Cheesy, but true!) When we make something beautiful for a friend or family member we are giving that person a piece of ourselves and a reminder of our most precious resource – time. These kinds of gifts can become cherished mementos of loved ones. As a matter of fact, Lochinvar and I have a Valentine’s Day tradition of only spending a dollar for each year we have been together. While we’re coming up on our 23rd anniversary which provides a little leeway, this was extremely challenging when we were young (and poor). One year he spent two dollars on some pastel colored paper. He cut the paper into squares and folded them into origami flowers. Then he used wire remnants to make stems and put them in a vase from our cabinet using old marbles to hold them in place. This lovely reminder of his gentleness and care lived on my desk at school for many years (until time and moving made them so ragtag that they fell apart). Each day when I came to work and saw my paper bouquet I felt loved. There is strength in that lasting warmth, for the giver and the receiver.

alg-knitting-jpgCrafting can be a social event. While I carry out most of my artistic endeavors alone in my studio with old rock and roll playing in the background, sometimes others get involved in my projects. Several years ago I created a fairy wand from silk flowers, ribbon, duct tape, and light weight dowels. These wands were thematically related to a musical that Lochinvar was directing at school, and we planned to sell them as a fundraiser. Since this required us to make quite a few, we created a little assembly line operation and enlisted the help of others. By the time we were done, not only did we have fairy wands but we also had memories of laughter and fun. A craft project is a great “in” with people. Creating something concrete together also helps create intangible connections with those around us.

Hopefully, the next time someone says, “I just don’t get it,” you’ll be able to explain why she should join our crafty ranks to save the world – even if it’s just one little corner of it.

 

 

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The Crooked Path

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It’s time for a revelation. Are you ready? Starting a business while holding down a full time job is stressful. (Who would have thought it, right?) Some days – like today – I just feel stuck. So, this blog entry is my attempt to push through it.

My personal Catch-22 goes like this: I’m tired and stressed from work, so I want to play a stupid video game and sit in front of the idiot box instead of building the website, researching marketing information, or creating a product line. However, if I don’t spend time building the website, researching marketing information, or creating a product line, I’m further behind than I was before, and I feel like a waste of space at the end of the evening. Can anyone else relate?

I knew that committing to making the business work would mean long days, and it’s not really the hours that trouble me. It’s more about the “business” part of the business. When people think about selling their beautiful artwork and creations as a business, we envision ourselves spending our precious coins of time immersed in color and pattern and paint and ribbon and glitter and a thousand other bits and pieces of decorative minutia.

Unfortunately, the reality is that my hours have been spent in front of a screen trying to figure out where a computer engineer put the tools I need to resize a particular picture and link it to a successive page of the website. Since I’m not really the engineer type, this is often a bigger struggle than it might seem.

In addition, life seems to just get in the way. Have a 30-minute stress-relieving bike ride penciled in this afternoon? Guess again – a student who has been absent for a week needs to stay late and catch up.

Think you’ll be able to knock that blog entry out during lunch today? Wrong – you have to spend the time comforting a colleague who is having a tough day and just wants to quit.

Think you have a solid two-hour block of time to figure out the difference between copyright and trademark AND how to apply for either and/or both? Nope – a family member needs some love and support instead.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I will choose helping another human being – loved one, friend, student, etc. – over working on the computer every time. I don’t begrudge anyone I care about the time I give them. Still, prioritizing people sometimes comes at the expense of what I think I should be doing. I have extremely high expectations of myself and my ability to “do it all.”

Perhaps what I really need to learn is that I don’t have to do it all now. Maybe my take away is that it’s good to schedule my time, but it’s better to be flexible with it, and best to be kind to myself when things go awry. After all, I am here writing a blog instead of retreating into a game. I am doing my best to stay on track and follow the road wherever it goes – through the twists and turns that create a crooked path to success. I need to remember that the goal hasn’t moved, and I’m still making progress. Baby steps forward are still progress.

 

 

The Color of Spring

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Everyone has a favorite color. Mine is blue. I love all shades from pale, nearly white icy blue to the deepest inky midnight-funk-jazz blue. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Glacier Bay in Alaska where the gray, mineral-filled water makes the ice appear a vibrant aquamarine. It was heaven. Of course, if you just slide around the color wheel a step, you’ll hit the greens – which are also near and dear to my heart. So, imagine my excitement when I took a look at the Pantone Color of the Year – “Greenery.” (FYI: According to the website, Pantone’s color of the year is “A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”)

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I realize that Pantone released this color choice about a month ago, but (apparently) I’m not on the inside track for these things. Go figure. This color of lemon leaves, early March grass, and Kermit the Frog, represents a pretty big leap from the 2016 colors of the year (Yes, there were two!) which were Rose Quartz and Serenity – think pale pink married to pale blue to create some lovely shades of hazy purple. Excluding those dreamy tones, the colors have been bold and/or vibrant for the last 10 years: Marsala (2015), Radiant Orchid (2014), Emerald (2013), Tangerine Tango (2012), Honeysuckle (2011), Turquoise (2010), Mimosa (2009), Blue Iris (2008) and Chili Pepper (2007). However, in 2006 the color was Sand Dollar.

All day I’ve been contemplating Sand Dollar. Though the color is definitely a neutral beige, the name conjures up the perfume of salty air, the feel of the waves tugging at my toes, and the sun reaching its golden tendrils across a blue expanse as it sinks below the horizon. (Sigh.)

Just naming a hue carries such visceral associations that I can close my eyes and picture the last time I saw it and contemplate what a wonderful, colorful world we live in.

 

A Real Who’s Who

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Well, I have done it. I have taken the plunge and am in the process of building a website. (I just keep remembering the man who ate an elephant – one bite at a time!) It is a little intimidating but interesting. I’m learning about all kinds of tools, and layout, and content needed for thecockeyedcolorist.com . However, as a creative endeavor it is also fun. I enjoy the process, and I’m having a good time writing some of the descriptors. (Although the artist statement still eludes me, and that will be the topic of a future post.) In the meantime, I’d like to give you a sneak peak of one of our pages by including the About Us content describing our staff.

toasting-our-friends-5-2Jenny Medlock (aka The Cockeyed Colorist) is the (not so) evil genius behind a diabolical plot to save the world through crafting by making people smile whether they want to or not.

 

toasting-our-friends-6-2Jeffrey Medlock (aka Lochinvar) is the organization’s Yes Man, as in “Yes, I know you can do it!” and “Yes, I’m here to help!” His jack-of-all-trades role keeps the machinery moving forward.

 

stanzi-1-2Stanzilicious Poufy Pants is the Efficiency Expert. She calls the staff to the basement to work every day and provides periodic petting breaks to her servants – I mean workers.

 

banditBanditulyumptious is the Cat Encouragement Officer (CEO) who brings incentive toys to the workers and makes sure everyone knows when it’s time to quit for dinner.

 

smudge-2Smudgicles (aka Old Blue Eyes) is Chaircat of the Board who oversees the whole production. From her seat of power she supervises the CEO and doles out responsibilities to the minions.

 

licorice-2Licorice is the Chief Fool and Art Critic (CFAC) who sees himself as a feline Jackson Pollock working in cat spit instead of gloss enamel.

 

georgie3Georgie Porgy is the Chief of Annoying Technology (CAT) who is never around when you need her. She specializes in hiding until problems are solved, unless someone shakes the treat jar.

And there you have it – the creative team behind our new website and our new product line (Coming Soon!) We hope your life is as colorful as ours!

 

More Bang for a Buck

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I know that many crafters are already familiar with the great “stuff” available at the dollar store, but sometimes I get excited about my finds and just have to share. A couple of days ago I was treading water between the end of school and the beginning of a meeting, so I stopped at a local Dollar Tree to pick up a snack. Of course, I couldn’t just hop in and out without perusing all the goodies – many of which just seemed to kamikaze off the shelves into my basket (go figure)!

I (obviously) started my excursion on the craft aisle where I found several kinds of glitter paint and glue. I was surprised to see the glitter hot glue sticks since those are not frequently available outside of craft stores. I also did not expect to see the large pieces of foam core / display board. These make a nice, sturdy foundation for lots of crafty ideas. Of course, the itty bitty clothes pins, colored buttons, and butterfly jewels are just too cute.

The office supply aisle yielded some pretty snazzy stickers and a couple of just fun items. I have to call your attention to the paper bracelets, though. These were hanging with the teacher/bulletin board items. I’m sure they’re meant to be reminders sent home to parents of small children. (Write the reminder and tape it around the child’s wrist so s/he doesn’t forget to tell Mom and Dad.) Still, I thought they could be pretty useful for remembering to bring something home or pick up something at the store. (Write your reminder and tape it around the handle of your purse or the steering wheel of your car.) Of course, many people do this sort of thing with sticky notes, but they always seem to fall off of where ever I place them.

Next stop was the toy aisle. I found a couple of nifty things to color for use in my classroom. (I thought the glittery poster board background on the balloon picture was really fun.) The other item is a colorable notebook cover and who doesn’t need more fun on their English notes? In addition, I found a bunch of cute puzzles. (Now, you have to understand that Lochinvar is a gifted puzzle person. He just glances at the pieces and knows where they go! This is a cool super power, but extremely frustrating to the rest of us mere mortals.) I envision that these could become the background for some nifty artwork. For example, complete the puzzle and glue it together. Then use a wash to tone down the colors and paint something related on top. How fun would that be?

Over on the wrapping paper aisle I found a series of “Diva” gift bags with the cutest cruel shoes. I envision cutting out the shoes and the words to use in a collage. Besides, who doesn’t love shoes? Of course, I have to love the pictures instead of the real thing because my feet would never tolerate such heels. I’d probably break an ankle just trying them on!

Over on the “home” aisle – where you find picture frames, small tools, etc. – I located these large-scale vinyl wall stickers. While I already have some of the floral and butterfly motifs, the over-sized elephant, birds, and balloon were newer designs. They actually come in two pieces which get matched up on the wall; although it would be cool to attach the stickers to an inexpensive canvas to give them a more artsy feel. It would also be fun to color the elephant before putting him up somewhere.

Overall, any time spent getting inspiration is a good time, but when those inspiration pieces are only a dollar, it’s even better! I hope you find colorful inspiration in your world.

 

Living Better is Art

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Over the holidays Lochinvar and I took some time to rethink how we live. We both agreed that we need to live “better” which means changing how we approach daily tasks and time allocation. This includes spending less time in front of the television and more time pursuing creative endeavors, being more mindful of what’s happening around us and less absorbed in our cell phones, scheduling down time to make sure we feel mentally rested each day, and going out to “do things” instead of focusing on chores. (Yes, they still get done, but they are of secondary importance.)

In addition to this mental switch we have decided to treat our bodies to better living, too. Like most Americans we could stand to lose a few pounds, but more than that we just need to move. To that end, we have started building 30 minute “work outs” (and I use the term loosely) into our schedule three times a week. Getting some exercise has always been low on our to do list because (like everyone else who works 40+ hours a week) we’re tired. However, we feel that our bodies will reward us with some extra stamina for all the walking we do on annual vacations, so we’re willing to try. In addition, we have decided that exercise need not be just a four-letter word (like “walk” or “bike”) but also a five-letter word (like “dance”). To this end we are attempting to teach ourselves West Coast Swing dancing.

Yesterday I found a good video series that has the basics in small bite-sized chunks, and we gave it a whirl. (Here’s the link to Swing Shoes if you’d like to learn, too!) While neither of us is a particularly great dancer, we did have some laughs (and some frustration) trying to dance in the living room. After practicing the basic steps while counting together, we put on Pandora and tried to move with the music. Overall we did alright, I think. This morning I could still remember the basic steps we learned yesterday (which is a win for me). But when the music didn’t seem to exactly fit the beat (thank you Mr. Music aka Lochinvar) we lost the West Coast Swing and reverted to Two Stepping. Of course, if the goal is to raise the heart rate a little, this works. On the other hand, if the goal is to learn to Swing dance before our cruise next summer, this digression was not helpful. Hopefully, we’ll be able to add a couple more moves later this week.

In the interest of variety, we rode our bicycles today which is always an enjoyable activity. January in the Valley of the Sun generally holds clear skies and temperatures in the 60’s. The fresh air feels good breezing past my face, and the green belts are lush with winter grass. As an added bonus, everyone we meet who is walking a dog, playing with kids in the park, or taking an evening stroll, smiles and waves as we roll by. This friendliness is contributing to our sense of living well since it makes us feel connected to our neighborhood and the people around us who usually go unnoticed.

I really hope we can maintain our commitment to these changes. Although the “old” me wants to come home and be a couch potato, the “new” me is enjoying the sense of accomplishment and time well spent at the end of the day. Over the last couple of years our lives had become so hectic that we rushed through everything and focused all of our energy on work. But our recent discussions reminded both of us that our jobs are how we make a living, but it’s what we do with the rest of our time that makes a life.

 

First Friday Fun

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To celebrate my birthday Lochinvar planned a trip to Phoenix’s First Friday, which is a monthly evening arts fair that coincides with free admission to the Phoenix Art Museum and the Herberger Theater. In addition, many galleries and downtown shops stay open late (until 10 pm), street fair vendor booths pop up in parking lots, musicians play on corners and in doorways, and artists show off their creations. Though this monthly festival has been going on for some time, we had never been. So, I was excited at the prospect of an evening of good food and artsy happenings.

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Fried mac and cheese and rosemary-parmesan french fries at Bliss Rebar

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Lochinvar at Bliss Rebar

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Moi at The District

We most enjoyed Roosevelt Row where we were greeted with lively crowds and vendors offering everything from ceramic cat mugs (SUPER CUTE!) to original sketches and paintings on everything ranging from traditional canvas to old 33 rpm records to handmade jewelry and hemp creations. We talked to an artist who uses tin cans to create fanciful figures which he sells to help feed people at a homeless shelter (which is where he gets the cans) and a woman with steampunk jewelry, including some cameos featuring bats and dragons.

 

After exploring this area, we walked to the Phoenix Art Museum where we were greeted by crowds of young people walking through the cavernous spaces. While I enjoyed some of the exhibits, the walls felt a little stark after the profusion of eye candy on Roosevelt Row.

Next we hopped on a trolley and went to Grand Avenue where we saw some really cool street decorations consisting of crocheted baby blankets wrapped around tree trunks, stuffed animal bags filled with plants hanging from branches, and stuffed snakes dangling from the canopies. The conglomeration of colors and whimsy made us smile.

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Even the bike shop sports some nifty art work.

Finally, after hiking the length of Grand, we picked up another trolley and headed back to the Arizona Center which we cut through on the way to the Herberger. Unfortunately, we were too late for the performances there (which ended at 9 pm), but we did see several people in costumes featuring fairy wings, feathers, and glitter.

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The Arizona Center

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The Herberger Theater

At that point, we found ourselves in need of a snack and a nightcap, so we ended our evening at The Compass on the 24th floor of the Hyatt. The view was spectacular and we nursed our libations until the rotating restaurant came full circle.

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An attempt to show you the view of the city lights from The Compass

The next morning we visited CityScape for a nosh at The Breakfast Club where I had the mignon bene (a four ounce filet mignon with wilted spinach on eggs benedict complete with hollandaise and bearnaise sauce). This came with homemade O’brien potatoes (pan fried potato pieces with sauteed onions and bell peppers) and seasonal fruit. It (along with all the other food we had downtown) was artistry of its own!

Lochinvar and I had a wonderful time. We reflected on years past and those in our future, dreaming of many more adventures like this one. A life well-lived is definitely art.

 

 

Success Is Measured Many Ways

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Have you ever sort of failed at something but felt like you succeeded? That’s the situation I’m in regarding some jewelry box items I made last week. In the end, I successfully completed the project (which can be a win all by itself sometimes), but the items don’t really measure up to professional caliber. (I’ll show you in a minute!) However, even when projects don’t end up the way I’d hoped/planned/schemed/dreamed, there is still a sense of satisfaction that comes from the DIY mentality.

It all started when I purchased an old secretary a couple of months ago with the intention of turning it into a cabinet for my jewelry. (Trust me, I have lots!) I discovered that keeping all of my stuff in plastic tackle boxes wasn’t really conducive to wearing it. I didn’t take the time to look for just the right necklace and bracelet, I just grabbed my go-to pieces on top. So, I thought if I found a way to make the pieces more accessible, I’d wear more of it. (Seems logical, right?) And what better way to do that than with a piece of beat up old furniture.

Step one ensued – painting. Once that was accomplished, I jumped online to find some jewelry trays to hold my sparkly happiness. Unfortunately, the inexpensive trays were not the right size for my shelves or the drawers below. Sigh. After much searching I did find some trays that would fit the parameters, but they were high end adding up to nearly $200! (To be fair, they were wood with a lovely blue velvet lining – pretty sweet!)

This led to step two – DIY the jewelry trays. (This is the part that isn’t too pretty. You might want to look away!) In the end, I think the plan was good, but the execution lacked finesse. (What can I say, I’m much better with paper and paint than fabric and hot glue.)

Since I didn’t want to fork over the cash for fancy trays, I decided to use whatever I had to create my own. As luck would have it, I had three boxes from Christmas candy what were the perfect size for my shelf. (yeah!) So I covered them in wallpaper scraps and used a couple of stained towels to make the rolls for the rings. Then I covered those in left over felt and turned in the ends. The result was usable, but not particularly professional. (In retrospect, I might have chosen a softer, thinner fabric which would have made the ends much easier to finish.

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Here’s how the trays look in the cabinet. I used Command hooks to hang all my necklaces above and removed the extra shelves. I ended up purchasing beading trays to hold my earrings in a drawer below, but how to get the bracelets out of hiding eluded me for awhile. I looked at some of the t-shaped bracelet holders, but they were too tall for the drawer and a little pricey. Then I saw a bracelet tray that basically had “humps” to put the jewelry across but was low enough to fit in the drawer below. So I decided to give those a whirl, too. (Ever the optimist I figured this project had to be better than the ring trays!)

This one is made from a cat food flat (which is about the same size as the earring trays) and toilet paper rolls. Luckily for me, when I was revamping the studio last week I found some batting, which made the job easier. The process was pretty much the same as above with the exception of placing a pad in the bottom of the tray before covering the cardboard rolls and adhering them to the tray. I do think the ends finished a little better since I found some cardboard circles to cover with fabric and act as caps.

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Unfortunately, about halfway through the project I had a rather nasty run-in with the glue gun (silly me!). But Lochinvar came to my rescue with burn gel pads which took the sting away pretty quickly, so I finished the tray as the walking wounded. In the end, the pieces were not perfection, but there were several successes here. First, I didn’t have to fork over any extra money since everything was made with scraps. Second, I didn’t have to wait for shipping. (I’m really all about instant gratification.) Third, I had a good time embellishing the story of my wrapped hand at work today, and (finally) I have the pleasure of knowing that I figured out how to do it myself. So I’m calling it a win. I hope when your projects go awry, you’ll still see the bright side. (Hey, that’s why I’m the Cockeyed Colorist!)

A Fresh Start

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As a January baby it has always made sense to me that a new year means a fresh start. Once we reach the day after Christmas, my wheels start turning and I contemplate what I need to begin anew. This year’s answer is my art. I want to move from the realm of part-time crafter to real-time artist. That means a new commitment to learn, grow, and practice art on a daily basis. Shockingly, this requires actual scheduling on my calendar. To that end, I purchased a goal-setting planner and spent several hours evaluating what I really want out of my time on earth and how to get it. (To be fair, I have most of it already – my sweet Lochinvar, my talented kiddo, supportive family members, and space to dream.) With these intangibles under my belt, it’s time to pursue some concrete goals, and the best way I know to begin a journey is with a clean slate, so I spent three days (yup!) cleaning out and reorganizing my craft room into an art studio.

I started by taking EVERYTHING out and changing the organizational structure. Previously, I had items sorted by “topic.” For example, all flower-related pictures/cut outs were in a box. Other boxes held bugs and butterflies, cats, watches and keys, words, etc. There were boxes of ribbon, boxes of lace, boxes of buttons and jewels, boxes of broken costume jewelry. Everything had its place. Having lived with this system for a couple of Januaries, I thought it best. However, upon really contemplating how I create, I realized that I didn’t open most of the boxes on a regular basis. I had one or two motifs that I used over and over, and then I dug through the box looking for a specific color. I didn’t always remember that other motifs might have that color. (For example, when I’m looking for blue, I don’t automatically think “cat.”), and thus I began to feel stuck. So… everything had to be resorted by color (and everything I hadn’t touched in a year or two had to go to Goodwill).

This, my friends, was quite the task. I honestly did not realize how many pieces of paper I had in my space. (Let’s just say I might be a candidate for a t.v. show about craft hoarders.) I even broke down and cried once when I hit the point that my basement was a huge mess, I had spent hours working, and I was only halfway done. (You know that feeling? The one in the pit of your stomach when you know you’re screwed because it will take just as long to clean it all up and go back to the way it was as it will to move forward and finish the job?) Ugh. However, I persevered, and I learned some things along the way.

First, I was inspired by many of the images that had been hidden away in boxes for a couple of years. All the ocean scenes, green leaves, seashells, cherubs, gilded edgings, and pictures of beautiful women made me want to stop in the middle to create something. Second, I realized I had been even more stuck than I thought. I had fallen into going to the “expected” image instead of the interesting one. Third, I found that some disarray made me happy. Now, usually I’m all about tidiness, but something in the profusion of color and motifs is inviting. A little (organized) chaos is good.

Take a look:

dscn2435This is the completely reorganized studio. (I realized after I had ripped a good bit of it apart that I should have taken a “before” shot. Sigh.) This configuration leaves some wall space to hang art and a project board.

dscn2436All of my “stuff” is resorted into baskets by color. This storage system from IKEA is inexpensive and ultra handy (I’ve had it in different parts of my house for several years). The color bins include white/beige, tan/brown, yellow/orange, purple, black, pink, red, blue, green, metallic, multicolored (for things that didn’t really fit anywhere else), and people. I left the “people” motif because that is the one element I always know I want. Other baskets have cardboard, original drawings, sketch books, etc.

dscn2437This is a close up of the side wall. All of the solid color paper and card stock of various sizes are sorted by color, too. They are stacked in open cubbies where they’re easy to see and grab as needed. The bottom shelf has books for cutting up. Some of them are quite old reference books with beautiful antiqued pages, while some are much more recent books with interesting pictures to use as clip art. Most of them were free from a library that was downsizing. The few I paid for came from thrift shops for only a couple of dollars. (Actually, I have a rule about not spending more than $2.00 on elements I plan to cut up and paste together.)

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Now the back wall items for craft shows including canopy parts, display pieces, inventory, office supplies, etc. This shelving unit and its contents used to be in the main area of our basement, but swapped places with my computer desk to clearly separate the areas and create a more open feel.

Though the space looks a little spartan at first glance, the lack of clutter is soothing and the real treat is pulling a basket for ideas.

The pink basket looks pretty unassuming by itself, but once you start unpacking all kinds of goodies appear.

Previously, if I needed something pink I would have gone for flowers, but now I see there are so many other options: cats, dragon flies, butterflies, bunnies, shells, and even crosses. This arrangement encourages diverse thinking and is just more fun.

As 2017 gets underway, I hope you find yourself moving forward. It’s your world; color it!