Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Studio/Office/Craft Room Organization 101
Today's Topics - Mist Storage, HOW TO
Work with What you Have - Storage Crates
Paint Brush Storage & Scissor Info!

Hi everyone!  I've been busy in my office/studio every evening this week.
FOR HOURS.  That is how long it takes when you have a space as small
 as mine & as many things as I have, to try to squeeze into it!!

So, yes, I made a mist/spray/medium shelf {well truth be told I had
 a hand with it!} & have had several other items made too.  I plan
on selling them {not mine of course but ones just like 'em!} so
 anyone interested may leave a comment here as I don't like
 putting my email address online - my SPAM is reaching
 INSANE proportions!  They are good prices because I am 
using Pallet wood, which is also super-trendy right now!

Anyway, more on the sale aspect in another post...
This post is about me organizing my craft room, for the
 bazzillionth  time.  WHY does this happen?  Why can't  we just
 get it right first time??  Well, this is ENTIRELY normal!  

Organization is ALWAYS a work in progress, for as long as our style
 is evolving & our stash is growing & changing.  There will be new
 needs, new priorities, & new spaces will need to be created 
& old ones reshuffled.  So how do you go about creating the
craft space of your dreams {realistically, the craft space you 
can afford, that is going to be, most importantly, FUNCTIONAL &
 also, of course, as aesthetically pleasing as your budget will allow!}

Well firstly, you have to cut your coat according to your cloth...
in other words...
1.  Work with the space you have.

  If you are serious about crafting you HAVE to have a space. 
THAT is something I have learnt over the last 11 years,
along with this...{trial & error being a great teacher!}


 My first space was a small desk I had made IN OUR PASSAGE!
 Yes that is how DESPERATE I WAS!  It had 2 shelves above it  
3 drawers!  It served my needs well for my first couple of years of crafting!!
{this is a simple solution for crafters "doing it" on a small scale}.


In our next house I had NO SPACE - that was BAD!! 
 I had to buy 2 big pull-along craft totes & "live" out of those, 
at the dining room table (that sucked...)

I couldn't create "properly" under those circumstances & it was a 
waste of time taking things out, putting them back & if I didn't there
 was always a mess on show.  DOWN with that scenario, but sometimes
 you don't have a choice!  {only solution is to put up with it for as long
 as you have no choice then celebrate when you move house!!}

For us we were in a temporary home when we first emigrated
so my crafting was on the "down low" for a couple of years.
Sometimes "LIFE HAPPENS" & you have to take a crafting break
because there's just NO WAY to accommodate it - just go with it!

SPACE 3!!!

In our NEXT house I had a craft room! YAY!!  It was a square & that 
worked VERY WELL.  It was an okay size (about 4m square) but as
 it  was in a rented house (when we first arrived in South Africa, prior
 to buying our own home some 4 years later) & I faced a couple
 of problems -  I couldn't afford expensive storage & I wasn't 
allowed anything "fitted" ... so that kinda sucked too. 

SOLUTION -  I used what is readily available & relatively inexpensive here
 in South Africa.  Plastic drawers.  They are not great.  You assemble them 
yourself & "try move those things around"! ... they all start falling apart!!
 They are also see-through (not a good look for any storage space) 
& the drawers are WAY TOO DEEP.  Always a bad idea as 
digging becomes necessary & MESS results!!

I see that in other countries narrower plastic/"wooden" shelves are
available.  I would say that as long as they are not the "pull apart"
kind like you get here, but are actually glued or nailed together
(or inside a steel frame) those would work well, if they were not
clear (or pushed into an alcove or under a desk where only the
front of the shelves was visible).  I have seen people adding
patterned paper to the fronts & that looks sweet & is a 
practical way of hiding the contents.  SO THIS COULD WORK!

I did drill up some standard shelves with brackets (which obviously I took down
 when we left the house, after filling in the holes of course!) but it wasn't a very
 smart look as, again, too much was on show, & there is no IKEA here (or similar)
 where you can go & keep buying the SAME thing, so what happens is you
 get what you need at the time, then when you need more you go back,
they're sold out & you have to buy something else.  Result?

No uniformity.  Not a good look. BOXES OR BINS ON SHELVES 
LOOK GREAT!  IF THEY ARE ALL THE SAME!!  Solution - if you 
are faced with the problems we are here - of no consistency in
production, GET THEM MADE!!  Then, when you need more,
you can get them made/make them again!!

Please excuse the mismatched labelling.  I used the tags from my previous 
baskets but had no more left & had imported them, so have also added 
chalkboard labels.  My plan is to print & laminate more detailed labels
 in time, as at times I have maximized my space utilization by
putting more than one supply into a crate. 

5 years ago.  I {crazily} did not consider HOW ON EARTH I was going to
find baskets/bins that would miraculously FIT the space - & never did!

Hence, for 5 years I have had a mismatched motley crew of containers
up there, looking AWFUL!  This year I fortuitously {more like an answer
 to prayer} found a wonderful wood-worker to collaborate with, to get
 some custom-crates made, without paying the earth for them!

Last week I got my DREAM CRATES!!
Again, made of Pallet wood & available for sale according to your
space requirements :)  They have slatted sides & a solid base
so no worries about anything falling through the base.
Want some?  Contact me here on my blog for details!

SPACE 4!!!

My Current Space!

I was DETERMINED, when we moved into our  current home  5 years
 ago, to have a dedicated craft area THAT COULD BE CLOSED OFF
so my mess could stay "in situ" if I had to create in stages &
 couldn't clean up in between.  This is BRILLIANT & MOST IDEAL!!

To achieve this, I had to convert our entrance hall, so now we have to enter
 our house through our dining-room, which is not ideal, but it was the only 
appropriate place for a studio/office/scrap room so I had to work with it!
So here we are - back to point 1 - WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE!

Usually there is a little work involved in any studio "conversion."
Unfortunately, to get anything right in life, involves a bit of effort!
One also has to learn to trade off some things for other things...
{often you can't have EVERYTHING!}

I had to block in a lovely French door {what we call a metal & glass
double-door here} that opened out onto our driveway area} as I 
really needed the wall space, & already the space had 2 good
 sized windows that would provide sufficient light.  

So I got a dry-wall put in front of the door on the inside rather
than doing any structural alterations to the house, so that future
owners can remove it & have the door back if they prefer.
This is an African mentality.  No "forever homes" here!

Then I designed what I thought would function well & had some
custom units made & installed by a kitchen company.  And I 
made some mistakes!   They are IMPOSSIBLE to avoid I think, 
 because the only way you know if a space functions perfectly, 
is to be in that space, doing your thing, which you don't know 
beforehand, so - sigh...I've had to live with a non-perfect 
space I custom-designed myself, for 5 years!!

But stay tuned because this year I'm sprucing up my craft zone
& fixing up my errors!!  Now I know what works & what doesn't
I'm excited to be planning & customizing my space once again,
& hoping to inspire you to do the same - on the cheap cheap!!


I have some type of obsessive compulsive Paint Brush disorder!

I have fine brushes for use with mists & water colours in one tub, on the front 
left, then some flat "painter-type" brushes in the tub on the front right.  I use
 these for  backgrounds as I like the look of the straight lines & edges that
 these create.  I also use them for painting bigger, off-the-page projects 
doing touch ups around the house!

Behind these 2 jars I have another 2 taller mason jars {that I just happened
to spray paint gold - I will show you in next month's post!).  The one on the
left stores medium-sized paint brushes plus both my rollers (one is missing
here as I was cleaning it - oops!) Rollers are a MUST for mixed-media work.
I love the SPEEDBALL brand for strength.  I have had even the Ranger
ones break on me as you need to apply some pressure when using them.

The jar on the back right contains all my large/thick long-handled paint 
brushes as well as my steel ruler (another must for all scrappers).
No matter how "free" you want your work to look, crooked 
(unless obviously intentional) is NOT A GOOD LOOK!!

And lastly, the shelf to the left of my scrapping counter.
Yes I stand & scrap & don't believe you can pour your soul
 into any art any other way...For me it's a full-body experience!
(This shelf is attached to a double-cupboard to the side of my
counter, that houses lotsa junk - off-the-page items waiting
to be made-over, canvases, the list goes on...)


Starting from the top left I have my water jar & my Benzine jar.  Both are essential
 for me.  I often need water for painting & I use Benzine for cleaning.  Toxic I know
 but I can't find anything that touches it for cleaning up my work area thoroughly,
& I'm a cleanerholic, I love cleaning up my messes as much as I love making them!  

I'm not sure if Benzine is a universal name, but it is like Turpentine, but slightly
 cheaper, & used here for heavy duty cleaning, mostly of paint. 

At the top right are all my waterproof ink pads.  Not that many.  I use mainly
black, grey & browns, but I do slowly add to the collection as I can afford to.
I have plenty more chalk/water-based inks in one of my storage tubs.

I know my labelling is messy!  I plan on smartening that up soon!!
I've also designed a cubby-shelf for them which I am getting
made - so look out for a mini-makeover there too...


I have another area entirely for my journaling pens  so that is why this
area looks so sparse/neat LOL!  From left to right...

Pencil tub, Pen tub (ballpoint pens only - no fancy "art" pens) Small scissors,
Big Scissors.  Yes I am SCISSOR HAPPY!!  LOVE me some scissors!!

Seriously COOL metal tubs purchased recently from Mr. Price
 Home.  LOVE!!  Go get some before they sell out!!!


1.  Don't buy ones with plastic blades!  Yes I'm talking about those rubbish
kids craft scissors with the different designs.  THEY DON'T WORK!!
Even the ones with the metal inserts.  Save your money & invest in
Martha Stewart/Fiskars punches instead.  Expensive indeed but 
you will get ALOT of easy, stress-free use out of them with
stunning results!

2.  Little embroidery scissors work great for fussy-cutting BUT once
you have invested in a pair of 2 inch Tim Holtz Tonic Scissors you
will wonder how you ever managed without them.  They have 
serrated blades so really GRIP what you are fussy-cutting
& the results are outstanding, plus they are ergonomic
& oh-so-comfortable {Ranger do feel free to compensate
me with the larger pair I am yet to afford if you read this!!}

3.  Large scissors - get some with spongy handles so they aren't
so hard on your hands.  

4.  Anything TOO big won't really come in handy - they're more for 
dressmaking, but sometimes I cut felt, etc, so one pair is a must.

5.  Pinking scissors & fringing scissors are fun & often used for
party decor so if you can get hold of those they're good to have.

I got my fringing scissors CHEAPLY FROM CLICKS because
they were designed for cutting herbs LOL!!  

You can show your appreciation for all my tips by signing up as
 an official follower of my blog on the gadget on the top left, 
if you haven't done so already.  It costs you nothing &
gives me the oomph I need to write the next, long
organizational post!  Thank you in advance ♥


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Ohhhhhhh I love love love your mist tray holder and your crates!!! These are just fabulous!!!!!!!!

Beatrice Lawson said...

Oh Helen, too funny! I need to realize how lucky I am to have a large bright room full of Ikea furniture that my loving husband has assembled and repeatedly moved, adjusted, took doors off, added drawers, etc. every time the organizational needs changed! I still think my space is a work in progress because, as you say, depending on how big the hoard becomes and the kind of projects you make and the number of albums you slowly accumulate.... You just need more room or a new solution!
I already follow your blog and look forward to your future posts!

Lizzyc said...

Thank you for sharing about your scrap space.. I scrap in mess, but I have tried to be tidy, but it just does not work for me.. and you are right, just use what you have at the time.. and isnt it funny how your stuff seems to re-produce.. and just get bigger.. could never work that out..hehe!!

Lizzy Hill said...

I love your walk through your different craft spaces...I find myself constantly changing, switching playing around with different storage.... Which I really enjoy!!!! Love your palette storage! Looks great. Um. You have a FEW sprays!!!!!!! LOL;)

Sandi Clarkson said...

Oh my, those little cubbies are just way too cute! Love your post but don't love Google connect. Sorry.

Di Garling said...

Love what you have done Helen and all that raw timber looks fabulous too and as you say, you can keep adding and it will all match. Thanks for sharing so,e great tips with us all too. Looks great. :)

Elaine coustley said...

I enjoyed reading this post. It all looks good... I must organise my pens /scissors and whatnots in an organised way as you have.x

Val-Belle said...

Love the pallete things they look so cool. Yeah I have learned a lot along the way too... know what mistakes I made and what I would not do again. Your space will look super cool when you are done.