13.5 x 21.5 Square Feet

That's how big my studio is.  13.5 x 21.5 square feet.  There is also a 5×6' walk in closet with shelving and a small corner of the laundry just beyond the studio that is where I mix and store my dyes.


It seemed big when I first built it out in our basement — big and bright due to the Ott lights recessed into the ceiling and the one large window on the exposed side of the basement.  I'm pretty sure I lived in smaller sublets during my college years, but, over time my studio seems precariously prone to clutter.  My last major clean up was in October of 2008 — the horror still lingers.

Since then, my studio has recluttered itself as I work.

General unsightly clutter


The problem is more one of having too much stuff than of being messy.  And, since I'm starting to bubble over into the rest of the house, ("I'll just use this drawer in the linen cabinet for my Golden's Mediums.  We'll never miss the space.") I'm going to try and spend several hours a week decluttering.  To keep myself on track (and to offer y'all some goodies from time to time), I'm going to document the process here.


(An early priority: redoing the floor in my flood damaged walk in closet — the loose tiles drive me insane and I've already broken a few)

I knew it was time to move from thinking to doing when I received an email from Ali DeCamillis this week.  Ali is the art therapist at an amazing program in Birmingham called Art Partners, which provides art outreach and therapy to sick and disabled people in our community.  Ali was in search of books for an art respite she wanted to create in a hospital setting.  SInce books always tend to take over my house and I love collecting art books, it seemed very doable to find a number I could cull out and set aside for Ali.  The prospect got me motivated to start decluttering.

Then, I found some time to read Cloth, Paper, Scissors new "Studios" magazine — something I had picked up some time ago but not had a chance to look at.  The Spring/Summer issue is all about decluttering and includes some fun little pep-talks by artists like Leslie Riley, who I really admire.

The magazine includes some great tips like using Hugo's Amazing Tape (I ordered it in transaprent blue) to organize fabric and other items.  Tracie Lyn Huskamp suggested "letting go" and the wisdom of selling or passing on items you hadn't used in over a year, so they could be put to good use by someone else.  Kelly Rae Roberts's sunny little studio had IKEA wire zip line around the top of her room, for hanging up inspirational items.  I loved that idea.

So I'm going to try to clean and declutter (that means that if you scrapbook, work with polymer clay, or like fabric, you probably want to keep checking in for the next few months as I pack stuff up and post it here) and organize my space to bring back the big, light feel that I miss.

Among my problem issues:

(1) Ugly but very functional plastic storage units (you can also see them near my big work table and under my counters).

(2) My big electric yarn winders, which are fabulous, but take up the top of my desk — space I long to reclaim.

(3) Fabric, found everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere.  It's tucked in baskets all over the studio and I want to pare it down so it takes up just a few cubbies in the closet, where it is meant to be.

(4) Rubber Stamps — I love them.  I use them on paper, on fabric, for kids' school projects, for the house.  I couldn't live without them.  I found this beautiful storage chest (yes, that's my kiln on top, I know, I know), and it's great except that I can't see them.  I'm not sure how to resolve that problem.  And storing unmounted stamps has always been an awful issue, I wish I could just find someone to mount them all for me!

I'm looking forward to tackling the studio, a bit at a time.  In keeping with the recent post-consumerism fervor in my house, I'm going to clean up, cut back, and create more space and time for art in my life.  I'd love to hear comments or thoughts from anyone else who is going through this and has ideas or advice!  Since I doubt the nice women at Cloth, Paper, Scissors are going to want to adopt me and my messy studio after looking at all the beautiful studio space in their magazine, I think I had better plan on tackling this one on my own!

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