Being organized has never come easy to me. Not in my work or my personal life.
Over the years I have begun to develop an evolving system of storage and a functional workspace that fill my needs.
It has always interested me how and where other artists worked and I think I used to compare myself with them and sometimes feel badly that I didn’t have a “cool, funky, artsy” workspace. Like that made my art less creative somehow.
Now, being older and hopefully a bit wiser, I focus on myself and have begun to embrace and love how and where I create.
I know now that art is no less important if you are creating at your kitchen table instead of a fancy studio.
Below are some tips and suggestions that have worked for me…it is ever changing and I am very open to other ideas on ways to tweak my process and surroundings.
One area I have a constant struggle with is functionality vs. aesthetics. Sometimes I tend to be very black and white…all function…leaving no room for visual inspiration.
So now I buy things that make me smile. Things that are functional and pretty. At times that means re-purposing items and getting a little creative…but it’s totally worth it!
1. I had a constant issue with my tool storage…I fly quickly between tools and needed a simple way to access and store them in a small space.
I purchased this mesh box (I love mesh) at an office supply store and it has worked perfectly! All of my tools hang on the sides and I placed a glass in the center to hold pens, brushes, skinny tools, etc…
It also works great for me to hang earrings on that are in progress.
I put it on top of a folded placemat which keeps it from moving. Also the dark color of the mat shows any dropped findings.
By raising the tools up (they used to lie flat) I can see them better and it gave me the perfect spot in front for easy access to my steel block.
2. Plastic drawer units have been great for all kinds of storage in my studio. Here is an example of my baggie storage…it is quick and easy for me to find just the right size and keeps everything neat. I purchased a small label maker from an office supply store and love having neat storage signs. It makes me feel good to have everything so clear. I also use these drawer units to store beads and other supplies.
3. A great decision…which was actually a happy accident…was for me to use compact, student computer desks for my work. Now these probably wouldn’t be great if you do heavy duty wire and metal work…but for my purposes, they have been wonderful.
I purchased both of them at an office supply store and they cost between $45-$66 I believe.
I like them because they are compact and space saving. Also, I love the shelf that is supposed to be for a computer monitor. It keeps supplies at eye level but off of my work area. The drawer that is meant for the keyboard is also useful for small, frequently used findings and supplies.
I have used two trays and reused small boxes and those round, stacking, screw on, clear plastic containers…separating the lids and bottoms. It was sort of like a puzzle but once I got them to fit (using a variety of shapes and sizes) it has functioned perfectly…and I think it looks cool.
I purchased a twin sized velour blanket at a discount department store and cut a work mat for the desk. I also cut a piece for under the trays on the pull out shelf to keep them from sliding around. The light color velour is a great work surface. It protects stones and it keeps small beads from rolling away. Plus I have plenty left over to line drawers that hold delicate supplies and to refresh my work mat when it gets dirty from metals and vintage items.
4. When I work I like to keep everything that I use on a regular basis within arms reach. I have found that for the safety and care of my back and neck it is very important to be thoughtful in my work area planning. I try not to have to reach too far and like to be able to keep my arms in close to my body when I work.
5. This is my desk for my metal clay (PMC) work.
I love this set up! Because the desk is small and compact, I am able to leave my materials out all the time which saves me time and effort when I need to work.
It fits in a tiny corner of my studio…right next to a window and everything I need is close at hand.
The monitor shelf is useful here because it supplies additional storage underneath. The pull out keyboard drawer is the perfect spot for items I need nearby but don’t use often. Most of what I use for my PMC work is small and fits in little bins or baskets.
This area was one of the first where I began buying pretty items for storage. I had some fun trips to a very popular discount department store where I found decorative ceramic trays to hold small containers and cutters, plates to hold my frequently used tools and bowls to hold a variety of other items as well as a basket that was supposed to be used for utensils but now separates and organizes my baggies, tags, hole punches, ribbon and cards.
When I sit down to work here it makes me happy to have real, everyday items that I find attractive and fuels my creative spirit. I think it makes it easier to stay organized too when you like where you work!