Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finished tray: my portable crafting kit (and more Molly crafting space philosophy)

Here's my finished tray! After spray painting it and allowing this Goodwill treasure to dry thoroughly, I remembered a stack of old corkboard that was moldering in our basement (it used to hang in the boys' room).

A little measuring and some swipes with an exacto knife to cut it to fit it into the tray and voila! I have a super functional tray bottom (that incidentally, hides some uneven spots of the paint job).

I think it looks totally gorgeous...

Why the tray?

Now then. You might be wondering why the heck I rescued a wooden tray and what that has to do with craft organization.

It's because I've been thinking very hard on what I do when I craft. This is probably a very good exercise for anyone who is thinking of making over a workspace. Think of the motions you make over and over and then think of ways to make things easier and more efficient.

I realized early on that while I love having a dedicated craft nook, when I'm working on something that will take me a while to complete (like, say, 150 wedding invitations), I really prefer hauling all my stuff downstairs and working in the relatively bright and airy dining room. I'm also closer to the family and don't feel all sequestered away.

I found myself packing all my supplies into a box lid (exacto knife, bone, card parts, brads, etc) and going back and forth with this kind of makeshift kit.

Portable Craft Kit

Thus was born the idea of a portable craft kit and, therefore the need for a tray (and a super adorable tray at that!).

So the idea is that there will be a certain set of tools that will always live in the tray. Current projects will go into the tray as well, making it easy to pick everything up so that I can work wherever I choose.

Organization can solve a problem

Think about how you work and try to keep this in mind as you are reorganizing your space. What makes it easy for you to craft? What gets in your way? What are the tools you use ALL the time (and therefore should be very easy to access?)

My tray, which will hold my frequently-used tools, will have a home on a nearby shelf where it will always be easy to grab and go.

A place for everything and everything in its place

Oh, and that's another big tenet of the Molly Lee Crafty Makeover plan: everything has to have a home. Without exception. Otherwise, you end up with little bits and bobs that just float around and make clutter and the next time you turn around, they've multiplied and everything's a huge mess.

That's one of the reasons why I got the in/out boxes that same day I scored on the tray at Goodwill. I discovered that there were always stray pieces of paper that ended up on my desk that I didn't quite know what to do with. They might be extra pieces of something that I hadn't quite gotten around to putting away or something that I just wanted to take a better look at at a later time. In any case, they added to the mess on the desk. The in/out trays will give these scraps a home until I can put them away someplace more permanent.

Find clusters

So, take a look around your area and see what has accumulated. Most times, you'll see major groupings of things. Throw them all into a box or basket (it's "home" for now) -- it doesn't have to be anything pretty, just start putting like objects together. Only after you get a handle on how big your various categories are will you be able to find the proper storage for them.


Be ruthless about throwing away anything you don't think you'll ever use again. Think of your limited space as what it is: a precious, very limited commodity. Is that spool of ribbon worth the amount of space you'd have to give up to house it? Get rid of it if not! Decluttering is VERY good for the soul!

Give yourself an "I don't know" bin

One tip: while I think it's very important to find a home for all your supplies, also give yourself one "out" to toss things that you know will accumulate, like my in/out trays.

One year, I organized the boys' toys into bins that I labelled (the boys went on a big week-long fishing trip and I went to Ikea three times -- yay!). This was a great thing to do, but one major factor for the continuing success of the toy/bin system was the addition of one large basket that we call the "I don't know basket." This is where we stick things that don't belong anywhere else. If we didn't have this extra bin, we'd spend way too much time trying force some things into places where they don't really belong. It helps us get through cleanup super quickly.

So declutter and organize your supplies into logical groupings, but do allow yourself the luxury of having one "I don't know" bin.

Here's an update from Happy Elephant, remember her? She took a whole ton of close up shots of her storage ideas. I really like how she's reusing things that she already had.

If you're embarking on your own Crafty Space Makeover Challenge, let me know and I'll link back to your blog (if you don't have one, we can make arrangements to post the photos to this blog).

Don't think you have to do anything big. If all you do is sort through all your envelopes and store them in a plastic bin, that's something. I welcome makeovers large and small! Sometimes little things make a huge difference!

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I love your tray idea! I have an entire craft studio in my basement, but if I'm working on something in the evening I like work upstairs to be closer to my family too - so I'm forever running up and downstairs carting bits and pieces to and fro. Looks like I need to get me a portable crafting kit started! :)