29 March 2010

Organizers R Us

"Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity. Whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is the concrete that allows you to be creative." ~ Verna Gibson

"Hello, Disorganized Anonymous. My name is Erin. I have a clutter addiction, and I need help."

Step one is admitting that you have a problem. I admit that I am the most disorganized person I know.
View from the hallway looking in. Yes. Those are taped bits of paper, bags in boxes on top of more boxes, and my childhood desk chair for comfy internet-wrangling.

I know. You will tell me that your studio or your office looks much the same as mine. Let's start a 12 step program for beadaholics, shall we?

I used to tell my mother "Creative minds are rarely tidy" when told to clean my room. {You can imagine how well that went over.}

If that is true, then I must be brimming with creativity. ;-)

Except when the untidiness takes over, like now, there is little in the way of creative energy. You know you have the perfect bead, but you can't find it...sound familiar? It saps my energy and makes me cringe to be in my space.
The other side of the room. Random shelves that need some help, bakers rack with all my boxes (and my attempt to paint in the style of Van Gogh behind my muse 'Lola' from one of my favorite local artists Jeanne Weymouth...what you can't see are the stack of boxes in front of this towering shelf filled with who knows what!

I am working on building a studio from the ground up...and I know that I am incredibly lucky that I have a space that is dedicated to me and my late night insanity sessions {this is my 9p to midnight job...anyone else with me on this one?}. When we bought this new house there was a room in the basement, no door, but a big opening and we weren't sure what it was used for. Apparently there was some sort of treadmill in it {whatever that is.}

The other table...with 'room' for stamping, liver of sulphuring, a display from a local art show, a tower of tiny drawers that I have no idea what is in them (oh! I bought myself a Dymo label maker! Should be fun!). And all those envelopes...the reminder that I have purchased a sh*tload of art beads that are still in their original packaging...because I have no place to stash them!

I knew that this was the house for us when my husband immediately said that this would be a great studio space, and he could envision french doors and counter space. That is when I knew that this was the one if HE was envisioning the perfect space for me! So we ripped out the ugly stained carpeting in there and had a hard surface installed. That is as far as we got. {We still need to sell our previous house. I am ready to bury St Joseph upside down in the backyard to make it happen.} I had a friend who owns a local cabinet store come in to give me some ideas, all of which cost a small fortune that I don't have. So now I have three folding tables, a baker's rack and two bookcases.

This is the small space that I work on in this big room right now. I think I need to fire the maid ;-)

But the {dis}organization monster is killing me.

Lack of organization + Lack of motivation = Lack of jewelry to sell

I had this brilliant idea in my last studio to have my friend who manages a local heating/cooling place put sheet metal the length of one wall with magnetic tins to hold things like clasps and wire and to use it as an inspiration wall that is changeable. It worked well in the other studio, so I know it will work well here. I can't wait to put up my wall o' metal again {hubby pointed out that I should just put it in...it can always be moved up or down on the wall when the cabinets and countertops get installed...someday}.

Really the crux of my {dis}organization problem is what to do with all the beads. Shelves are nice for books and such but what I needed to have something to sort out my beads and components. Currently I have a boat load of Snapware containers, each with a different sort of bead, stacked in towers, containing baggies within baggies within baggies... the plastic is out of control! I have toyed with tackle boxes and tool drawer towers, but it just seemed to never be enough.

Then I remembered the post that the lovely Miss Lorelei gave on her studio redo and she had scored a printer's cabinet from an antique store. This is the kind with shallow drawers containing little partitions that was used to hold fonts of every style back in the turn of the century.

I hopped on eBay and did a quick search. I was excited to find that there was an auction about to end for the most perfectly preserved antique Hamilton printer's cabinet...and it was located right here in Wisconsin. And they wouldn't ship it because it is too big. The winner {or buyer, as my husband reminds me} would have to come and pick it up.
My new baby.... I call him 'Hamilton.' He is tall, dark and handsome... and a whiz at keeping things straight! He is a level headed and sturdy young-old man that allows me to keep my favorite books nearby (like Bead Trends March issue and Totally Twisted by Kerry Bogert)...or maybe I will start preaching from this pulpit!

Now, I live smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin. Put your finger in the center and there I'll be. We always say that we live 2-3 hours from anywhere.

I showed my darling husband and he quickly told me to go for it.

That was all the arm twisting I needed.

I should have waited until the last hour of the bidding to start. If I had, I likely would have won with a few extra dollars in my pocket. But I couldn't stop myself.

I jumped in. I placed a bid. And then my heart started beating faster. My breathing became more shallow. I wanted this bad. I watched as someone tried to outbid me, but with 58 minutes and 46 seconds to go I was in the lead.

I watched the minutes tick down.

And then I got the notice that I won.


I got in contact with the seller right away who told me that they had this cabinet for years, but could never figure out what to do with it. She is excited that I am excited by this awesome find. Now we are making the arrangements to get the cabinet back to the house. And today, almost three weeks since I paid for it, I drove 3 hours each way to pick up my cabinet in Emerald, WI. {The luck of the Irish must have been with me.}

I had to share with my Facebook friends immediately. Now I have never been the envy of anyone, but I felt it with this score! Someone asked how old this cabinet is. So that set me off on a quest for information. Here is what I found:
The Hamilton Manufacturing Company established in 1881 made quality cabinets and other wood products like pails in Two Rivers, WI. They say that Hamilton's case products are "known in every civilised nation of the world wherever the printing press has made material progress." Before this time, there apparently were no furniture makers catering to the printing world. Around 1905 Hamilton published a very complete catalog that I found on the internet in its entirety. They were the standard in printer's cabinets and could be found worldwide. They made everything, including the wood block letters that fit in the drawers. I found one cabinet that seems similar to mine called a Wisconsin Cabinet. With 21 drawers and a slanted top for working on (if you find one with a flat top, they made those as well, more for storage than actual work surface), they touted that these would take up less space, resulting in less rent, and increased work space for more men to set the type.

Some of the largest ones were back to back and probably the size of my entire studio. This one will be just right. I find it interesting that the Wisconsin Case that I am getting was sold in 1905 for about $18. I paid a lot more than that ;-) but I think that I made the right decision to not let this one go. I find it exciting that not only will I have a perfect organization tool, but I will be touching and preserving a piece of history. I am a bit embarrassed to have shown you the horrendous state of my studio, but this is reality. I am working to make it more functional and comfortable and a place where I can invite clients in one day. I will keep you apprised of my progress on creating the studio of my dreams. What is your best organizing tip? Do you alphabetize your spices? group like things together? buy in bulk and then transfer to smaller plastic containers? Do you have a certain type of organizing container that works well for you? Is there an disorganization monster in your life? If so, what is it and how do you plan to slay it? Do tell! Check It Out::Life Organizers P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the March Inspired by...Dr Seuss challenge! The winner of the book charm from the lovely Esther in France will be announced on April 1st... no foolin'! Enjoy the day!


Andrew Thornton said...

At least your "disorganization" is contained to the one room. I spread out in all directions. For instance... you think I'd be painting in the studio... but I decided that I like painting in the kitchen. So now one of the kitchen counters is covered in my painting supplies and my laptop, because I have to check my email periodically.

And there are stacks and stacks of boxes of things. There are probably thousands of dollars worth of beads just sitting in boxes. When I die, I'll probably make some beader very happy. They'll probably come upon a yard sale cleverly disguised as an estate sale and see boxes of Anne Choi beads and sapphires.

I totally need to join this support group with you. Maybe they have a dual one for hoarders with ADHD who are organizationally challenged?

Davinia said...

Erin your studio doesn't look too bad. The more space we have the bigger the mess. The more surfaces we have the more stuff just gets dumped there. My little 3m square area in the family room is a case in point. I'm forever re-arranging and trying to make room and organise but as soon as I clear a space it's filled up again in no time. I despair! As soon as one of the KIPPERS moves out (and I'm hoping it's my daughter, she has the biggest room) that room will be mine, all mine I tell you. I sound like a horrible mother longing for the day the birds leave the nest don't I. Love your cupboard.

Patty said...

Your new cabinet is gorgeous, Erin! What a find! Thank you for opening your space to us - it's hard to do, I'm sure, when you feel it's not up to its full potential. But I suspect some momentum is heading your way, and soon you'll be able to find any bead in an instant.

I tend to buy a lot of those plastic see-thru divided section containers for storing my silver beads, gemstones, etc. But my purchases are way ahead of my progress when it comes to actually getting everything into their proper places.

My disorganization monster is the one that starts a project and leaves it sit for months, and one that creates beads and then can't decide what to do with them. I'm trying to learn to live with this monster, even if it means admitting weakness and organizing my space around it. One step I took is to do my pieces in the black plastic jewelry trays (with the velvet pads inside), so that when I have to put one aside for a moment (my word for month), I can just stack them neatly to the side and keep a clean space in front of me for the next one. So far it's kind of working. :-)

Congratulations on your eBay win! It's really stunning, and quite a find.

EmandaJ said...

My name's Emanda and I'm a clutter-holic.

I have lots of "stuff" in my house and a very unruly studio. I do have my beads "sort of" sorted by colors in a scrapbooking roller stroage tower, but it is not a perfect solution.

I started a de-cluttering support group at church and we end with the Prayer of St. Francis, you know, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love . . . {we added} Where there is chaos, order."

It doesn't make us any tidier, but it does help us put things in perspective.


Releases by Rufydoof said...

Ohh it is nice to see someone else's "clutter" however check out an older post on my blog and you will see yours is not even close to being as bad as mine was!

I think I suffer from a mild case of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) as when I am surrounded by clutter my mind and spirit feels cluttered... it's a good thing I work in a private psychiatric hospital for a psychiatrist lol!

I am very envious of your Hamilton... it is divine. I have been looking at those "Best Craft Organizers" for years now but they are a wee bit expensive here in Australia... well done on such a great find!

peacockfairy said...

What an awesome find Erin! Ever since Lorelei found hers, I have always thought it would be so great to find one as well. Hopefully, it is the inspiration you need to start organizing. I know exactally how daunting the process can be. I'll organize my studio, and vow to always put things away when I am done - but before you know it, things are scattered all over the table again and I am working on a very small surface area. Old habits die hard!

mairedodd said...

i am so very happy to hear about your new acquisition - and its history, which means even more... it is exciting to win something special - and it must have been meant to be as it was living in wi as well! i am really happy with a wine rack i got and an old library card drawer... otherwise, my area would be beyond mess -

Anonymous said...

Oh, that cabinet really is beautiful! I so wish I could have one like it!

As for the studio... mine looks worse. Your looks tidy by comparison (and no, I'm not taking any pictures of my mess *lol*)
Alphabetizes spices? Well, if you read my blog, you'll know that I keep polymer clay in my spice rack, so... the spices are just heaped on the work table, actually. *g*
Group like things together? Um, no, more like: throw everything in a box together and try to close the lid by force.
The worst disorganizing monster I keep as a pet is called "paperwork". Hate it. So I pile it and try to ignore it until the pile threatens to fall over and bury me.

Michelle said...

I envy your new find...I was drooling over a very large cabinet (5feet wide by 6feet tall) at a local antique place. I really wanted it! But where would I put it??? I could house the beads AND the rubber stamps AND the paper AND the inks! LOL
My 11x16 studio space is full of stuff that I can never seem to find. I know that it's there.....
I pick it all up with the intention of keeping it tidy...then BAM! It's all back out and I'm working on a 8x14 area (my bead mat that also usually has only about 5" to work on). Add to this that I share the space with my mom (who usually stays tidy).
Fortuneately, the bead shop stays pretty tidy, but I never have time to work on projects there!
Good luck with the organization!
Bead Happy!

Pretty Things said...

I love your new cabinet! I have a cabinet from www.Collectors-Cabinets.com and adore it, although I've ALMOST outgrown it, and still have things stashed elsewhere -- mostly metalsmithing stuff and things like that.

stregata said...

Apparently, I need creative chaos to be able to work. I do clean up and put things away, but as soon as I start to work again, I have things everywhere... I have stopped putting myself down for this - it only makes me feel bad and doesn't change the way I am. But it is the age old battle of order and chaos, I guess, right here in my "studio". Wow, that gives it a totally new dimension; sort of mythical...

lunedreams said...

your new organizer is beautiful and functional! congrats on your find!! I am envious you have all your stuff in one room. I keep my stuff on a bookshelf in one bedroom, under the bed in the other bedroom, in a couple kitchen cabinets, in a kitchen drawer, in the closet, on the porch, under the coffee table, on the coffee table and even in the car (shipping boxes). oy. (we have a tiny house). lots of plastic containers and plastic bags. not a great system since my categories are rather broad. lots of digging in containers and cussing. i think you're ahead of the curve already!

sasha and max said...

I have cabinet envy- that newbie is wonderful! I have a mini version which is an under desk unit with A2 size slim drawers from Ikea. It has cut outs for handles which is a bad thing as Max Cat has learned how to open them and raid the bead stashor sneak a very large paw in the gap and garb the goodies. So now it has child proof locks and things in front of the unit..takes away the beady spontaneity I must say. Have fun getting organised ! Vicki

Cindy said...

Wow, Erin....I could totally relate to all that you say here. I'm certainly a member of this club. If I took a picture of my desk at this very moment you'd see just how much we have in common. My desk is actually 75% covered with bead bins...that leaves a teeny tiny area to create! But I agree with Renate, no sense in beating myself up over it!
I admired Lorelei's find when she found it with Kerry, and I love yours too. It's going to be fantastic storage! I'm always on the look out for something like this, or the kind that spools of thread were stored in...but they are pricey. Thanks for sharing your studio with us... I think many of us would feel right at home!
I loved Lorelei's cabinet and now yours as well. I'm always on the look out for an old piece like that, or maybe the kind for old spools of thread bu

Jenners said...

That is one cool cabinet.

And you're not too bad ... you can still see the floor!!!

I think the best organizing tip is "Find a place for everything and everything in its place." And all the places should be near to where it is used or needed. If it isn't used or need, then it should go away.

Shannon of ** Happiness Is...** said...

Ooooh, nice eBay purchase! It's so exciting to buy off there, huh? Loving your blog!! :) xo

Heather said...

as a former member of this club, I wish you luck my dear friend! I found that really thinking through how I work helped me get a good start.

hey don't fret about those folding tables and don't feel like you have to wait for custom cabinets.

Get some earthy fabric and make a "table skirt" with some iron on fusing for 'hems' and velco with a sticky side to attach it to your table. Not only will they help dress up those folding tables, they make a great cover up for boxes that you aren't ready to go through.

Love the cabinet, have fun putting all your treasures in it!

Esther said...

i need that kind of chaos too!! and i always found what i'm looking for!! so what's the problem?? (beautiful vanghog!! héhéhé) thanks for sharing!! most of us clean up the piece and the table for pictures.. but in the real life... we have all the same studio don't you think??


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