Friday, January 26, 2007

I have to be organized to create. Is that an oxymoron?

This week I counted among my successes the final placement of my art materials in their organizational shelves and drawers. Don’t laugh. I’ve lived in small spaces for the last 17 years, all 850 square feet or less. One place I lived for a longer time than I wanted was only 210 square feet. It’s definitely a challenge to store it all.

But you have to live and when you live you have hobbies. Mine are bookbinding and painting. They involve using paper, and handmade paper comes in sheets of 3’X2’. They are best stored flat, presenting a space challenge. Paints take storage space, too, as do brushes, magazines for collage, glues, and all the other supplies I need to recreate with my hobby.

Any guy who’s eyed the garage or the basement knows what I’m talking about. What heaven it would be to have everything in one spot, open to the eye! All my tools hung up and ready to grab. Just having everything in one room is a victory. In one place I lived, my papers were laid under the couch, the hard materials were in the bedroom closet and the paints were in the spare room, which you had to climb over the folded up cot to get to. It’s not so conducive to hobbying when it takes half an hour just to get it all out.

I thought and I thought and I thought. Even though I am in a two-room studio now it’s spacious. With a plan in mind, I managed to score the last deep clearanced bookcase at Target yesterday and then I spent the evening putting my thoughts into action. For the first time my large papers are laid flat, a real help when making books because then time isn’t spent flattening the paper or ironing out the crinkles. Everything is off the floor, also a real help because papers get dusty. Everything is in one room and within 4 feet of each other. I can fling open my closet, open a few drawers and it’s all there. I am very lucky.

It’s taken ten years to scrounge or slowly acquire my supplies. Anyone who has the challenge of a budget feels happy when some money is left over for a couple of $6 glazes or a large jar of Mod Podge. I’ve spent a great deal of time haunting library book sales, yard sales, and the popular transfer station at my former hometown, where people leave usable items in “the good pile.” Once I found fifty small bottles of acrylic paints, many more than half full. At $1 a bottle you can say I left very happy that day.

It’s been about ten years of slow accumulation and at least that many years in struggling with how to store it all so it’s out of the way but accessible. Last night I found the balance. Now, what’s on the project list this weekend?

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