It looks as though spring has finally decided to peek her little head out and make an appearance. It couldn't come soon enough for me. Now don't get me wrong, I love the rain and I know we are going to need it but I just need the occasional warm day and sunshine to break up the monotony and remind me that the sun does indeed exist, even in Oregon.
Now since we are talking about spring, I am going to bring up one of everyone's least favorite topics. Spring Cleaning. Love it or hate it, we all know it's something that should be done and honestly more often than once a year. Today I am talking specifically about your craft area and getting things back into shape in order for the creativity to flow.
I have been asked a lot lately to do a video of my craft space and at some point I may, but honestly I am reluctant for a few reasons. I am as likely as the next person to spend hours down the rabbit hole of perfectly curated craft rooms. Drooling in envy at all the extra white spaces and plotting how I could make that work for me. But to be honest, it wouldn't. I am lucky enough to have a completely dedicated workshop and I know that isn't the case for everyone. I also hate the idea of anyone thinking that if they don't have said dream space that what they do have can't be functional or that they can't possibly utilize any of the ideas because their space doesn't look like those fabulous influencers.
If you have ever seen my space (usually blurred out in the background of photos) you will know that I don't believe in white anything. I have almost nothing white in my entire house and certainly not in my craft space. Now calm down all you lovers of pure white everywhere, I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't have white, I am just saying that it doesn't work for me. My workshop is a mixed use space. I am eclectic when it comes to my crafting and have a variety of mediums that I use so I tend to gravitate toward dark woods, multi purpose and second hand finds that I can upcycle to work in my space. When I was young I remember going into my dad's garage workshop and he had these old dressers that we kids had obviously outgrown, they were horrible colors of yellow and green but they had fabulous drawers and a bench style that worked perfect for keeping his tools and adding a worktop. My dad has since moved, changed jobs, retired etc and yet when I went into his shop a few months ago those old dressers were still there (he has painted them a time or two since), but the point is you don't have to run out to the nearest IKEA and grab every piece that some influencer recommends. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the occasional trip to IKEA if it fits your budget and it works for you. What I am saying is make use of what you have or shop around. The important part is to make your space, well uniquely yours, and utilize what works for you. I have an ancient roll top desk that I picked up at a goodwill (I think) for like $50. It is one of my favorite pieces and it made my craft space so much more functional than the tabletop style desk with no storage, I was using previously. I love anything with lots of storage especially if you are tight on space.
When we are talking about crafting, space is prime real estate. Whether you have a huge space or a cubby in the kitchen, you need to make that space work for you. For a very long time I dreamed of having one of those craft box things. I thought it would be fabulous to keep everything contained and organized but alas I am a messy maker! Call it my creativity that just can not be contained but I have a little bit of stuff spilling out everywhere in my workshop and I just don't think those little cabinets are worth the cost. Plus I hate putting things like that together. Once a week I go through my space and do a cursory tidy and organize. Then monthly l I do a bit of a deeper clean. This helps me to keep the chaos under control should god forbid anyone come in here and see what it actually looks like on the daily. But we are talking about Spring Cleaning and that is topic all on it's own.
So let's get down to the nitty gritty of it shall we? The first thing I do when Spring Cleaning is bring in 3 tubs, 1 for things to throw away, 1 for things to give away and 1 for things that need to be put away. (See Mom I do listen) Then I clean off all the surfaces in my space. Everything on them gets put into one of the bins and I deep clean each surface. I personally use un-paper towel rolls from Heather's Treasures and some all natural cleaner that I make myself, but you can use whatever works for you. I also take this time to clean off all of my printers and check the ink levels of each. After the surface cleaning is done I head to the drawers and cubbies. I hate the word purge but I like to look for items that no longer serve me and into the donate bin they go. There are lots of people out there that have "rules" on when to get rid of things and I am not much of a rule follower in that way so, if you want to keep it then do and if you don't then don't. I clean out all the bins and drawers with a little vacuum and then wipe them all out. I have little labeled containers in all of my drawers, because otherwise I would just throw stuff in there willy nilly and shit would be everywhere! So I clean out the little containers too before putting them back. I even wash the windows, clear out any cobwebs, sweep and mop, you know all the tasks I truly hate but have to be done. I work with a lot of wood so things are often covered in a layer of dust and cleaning the windows makes a huge difference in the light that comes in.
At this point everything has been cleaned so it's time to move on to organization. I look at all the cubbies and containers and see if they are still useful or need to be re-labeled or re-purposed. At this point everything has already been separated out into my bins so I go to the throw away bin and do just that. I recycle what can be recycled and throw away anything that needs to be thrown out. I then take out the bin of items to donate and put it in the car. I know you all are wondering at the order in which I do these things and my logic is this...when I get to the put away bin I want my space to be completely clean and organized and I don't want to see the trash and items that need to be gotten rid of so I save the put away for last. Once all of my items are back where they belong I am done. This whole process usually takes me several hours and I do it quarterly not just in the spring but you get the idea.
Now for the part that I consider the fun part. We get to talk about the items that I find useful to keep in my craft room for cleaning and organizing. I love the Dollar Store and the dollar spot at Target for little bins and containers. Pro tip check out the bathroom section at Target. They have great containers for cheap that are perfect for craft space organizing. Depending on where I am using them in my workshop I like bins that are stackable, somewhat clear and have a lid. As I mentioned I have a multiuse space and it can get quite dusty when I am running certain machines. I also like to be able to visually see what is in the bin. Yes, I still label every bin with what is in them but something in my brain needs to be able to see the items as well.
- Label Makers: I use a Niimbot label maker for labeling small bins and use my Silhouette Cameo for making larger vinyl labels. I have a tendency to color-code my larger bins and color-code the labels on them as well. This again makes it easier for me but I know lots of people who would go crazy with different colored labels so do what works for you.
- Peg Board: Peg board is your friend no matter where you are crafting. If you are limited on space it's super useful to be able to use as much vertical real estate as you can. I have mine painted in a variety of colors that match my aesthetic and also have a worktable that came from Costco with a metal pegboard back. I hang almost all of my tools from pegboard. You can cut it down to size or most hardware stores are happy to cut it down for you if you don't have the ability or the desire to do it yourself. It is relatively cost effective and you can buy the hooks and pegboard boxes etc for pretty cheap also. I always try to shop local when I can and you can generally find these at most local hardware stores. I'm told you can also get them at places like Harbor Freight if you have one of those in your area or on Amazon if that's more your thing.
- Worktables: Worktables are great. I have two large wood and metal worktables that are standing height. Some people are really into standing while crafting and some people hate it. I don't really care either way but I got mine on sale and I love them. If you don't have room for a worktable the top of almost any surface will do. A counter, a table just make sure it's level and sturdy enough for whatever craft you are doing.
- Magnetic Storage: Now I know I said don't go running out to IKEA and I stand by that but they do have some cool items for organization. Years ago in the Kitchen section they had these medium sized metal wall hanger things with little magnetic jars. I think you were supposed to use them for spices or something but I saw it and it instantly made me think of my craft space. I use the little jars for things like paperclips, push pins, and other small items that I use for crafting.
- Plastic storage cups: You can find these at most Craft Warehouse or Michaels stores. They have six rather decent sized cups and a handle in the middle and they come in super fun colors. I use mine for storing my gel pens. I separate them by color into each of the cups and it makes locating them a breeze.
- Shelf liner: I use the rubbery type shelf liner that you can get in the kitchen section of pretty much everywhere for under all of my machines, with the exception of my lasers for obvious reasons. It keeps my printers, cutters and heat presses from moving about on the slick surfaces and I haven't found anything better yet. I also get these in colors to match the rest of my shop. (Think Lime Green and Aqua Blue)
- Paper Storage: I have two different types of paper storage. One are upright magazine style boxes and the other are closed flat plastic containers. They both fit 12 x 12 paper. I use the magazine boxes for paper kits of different types: Scrapbooking, Card Making, Other Papercrafts... and the flat containers are used for just paper. The magazine racks I have are absolutely ancient, they are an Aqua Blue plastic and I think I may have gotten them at Big Lots for a couple of dollars. The other containers came in a multi-colored pack from Costco. They are semi-clear and I label them with what type of paper is inside. They are stackable and have a lid that clasps shut so they are great for utilizing space.
- Vinyl Storage: I utilize two different types of storage for my vinyl. Those same 12 x 12 boxes from Costco (labeled of course) and for rolls I use clear labeled bins. I know that lots of people use those plastic roll holder thinga-ma-jigs from IKEA. If you like that and it works for you then by all means I say go for it. I like to move my space around often and I have so many other things that I hang on the walls that it is just easier for me to use bins.
- Rolling carts: I love those rolling tiered carts. You can get them pretty much anywhere in pretty much any color you like. I got mine off of the Facebook Marketplace for free. I have two of them and I lucked out and found them in the colors that already matched what I had going on in my space. But if you find one cheap on the Marketplace or something and you hate the color, spray paint will do it wonders. (Side Note: I do this with a lot of items that I find on the Marketplace. If I hate the color but the piece itself is great, I just refinish it to go with my style.) I also one of those rolling carts with the drawers. Again this was a Marketplace find, it wasn't free but it was WAY cheaper than I could have purchased it at my local craft store. I love the capability of moving stuff around and adding extra workspaces where I need it and then tucking them out of the way when I don't need it.
- Cloths: I keep a few different kinds of cloths in my shop. I already told you that I use Un-paper towel rolls made by my very talented friend Heather at Heather's Treasures for basic cleaning. I also keep a few bins of rags and a few bins of micro-fiber cloths for cleaning and for crafting. Y'all I am a mess in here when it comes to crafting so I gotta have stuff ready for any quick cleanups.
- Alcohol: I quite seriously buy this by the gallon. I use it on tons of different crafting projects but it is also one of the only things that can clean up a resin mess when I make one.
- Nitrile Gloves: Resin and cleaning solutions are nasty and believe me you do not want that shit on your hands so I keep a huge supply of these on hand. I generally have them in a few different sizes so that if the kids or guests are here I have a size that will fit them.
- Cleaning Solution: I make my own but most people prefer wipes or store bought cleaner for the convenience of it. Use whatever you like just make sure it is safe for whatever surface you are cleaning and that you move things out of the way that you don't want to get cleaner on. Yes I have totally ruined projects because I forgot to move them out of the way before I started spraying cleaner everywhere.
And that my friends is pretty much it. There you have all my favorite little tid bits for keeping my space workable and creative. I can't stress enough that the place you are crafting is not as important as being able to function in what space you do have. I hope I have given you some things to think about while you are doing your Spring Cleaning. If you want more tips and tricks make sure you sign up for our Newsletter to get things straight to your inbox. Also, we would love to hear about your Spring Cleaning rituals and I am always excited to see what you have going on in your craft space so feel free share with us.
One last thing, I have told you many times that I am a fan of shopping local whenever I can and also I don't shop at certain companies for my own personal beliefs so if you don't have some of the stores that I talk about and you like a particular store that I don't recommend by all means see what they have that will work for you. I am all about making your crafting life as easy as can be.