Let’s face it. Most of us crafters don’t revel in the luxury of having a room of our own. Some of us live in studio apartments and convert a tiny armoire into our entire creative center. Others live in four bedroom homes we share with our husbands, children and pets and clear off the dining room table nightly to craft our wares. It’s all we can do to find a spot to settle in and get comfortable enough to get our creative juices flowing. When I first began, I started out beading on my couch. Beads would roll off of my pad and into the cracks, and I didn’t even have a semblance of organization in place. I was storing my beads in the bags that came from the shop I bought them in, willy nilly and in no particular order. It was exasperating!
It goes without saying, using one small area for so many purposes is nearly impossible without having an system of organization in place. While I dream of having a room dedicated to my craft, with a separate area for each of the functions I have to perform and handy spools of wire and chain at my fingertips, I have to face facts. I don’t have this room. In the famous words of Tim Gunn (Project Runway, yes I am addicted) I had to “Make it work!”
My resolve to “Make it work” was something I came to when I made the decision to turn my creative hobby into a business. I knew I could no longer uncomfortably bead on the couch if I was at all serious about being successful. Here’s what I’ve done with a small (and very multipurpose) area of the two bedroom flat my husband and I rent.
We have the luxury of having a sun room in our flat with windows facing north, west and south. The room is filled with beautiful, natural light and is the perfect space for creating and photographing my jewelry.
Being so spacious and well lit, I decided to set up my home studio here. I had previously bought a small desk from Ikea for the sole purpose of my having a space of my own to do homework (again, instead of the famous couch!) I get a ton of use out of this one inexpensive desk. Paying bills, beading and wirework, a staging area for my product photography, photo editing, working on the laptop and preparing packages for the mail.
I also have a printer and some small file storage next to the desk, I use the one small drawer to store my business cards and misc. items, and make good use of the bottom cubby to store my printer paper and finished product.
Luckily, jewelry is small so my finished product currently stores up nicely in a little shoebox sized tote I bought, in small Ziploc style baggies to keep them safe.
Our sun room is also the main room in our flat for entertaining and watching movies. Therefore, we happen to have a television and media center in the room. I swiftly commandeered this particularly roomy cabinet and now use it for all my storage purposes. I use the bottom left area for storing my beads, tools, wire, stationery and cards. For the beads and tools themselves, I have several cases I store them in neatly and nicely, a vast improvement on constantly pulling things in and out of a paper bag to find what I’m looking for.
The right side is dedicated to my props for photography, bubble mailers, jewelry boxes and a bag full of miscellaneous items like ribbon and jewelry hang tags. I also have some display items for craft shows stashed in the far back.
Don’t be fooled by my photos, my area is often a mess of papers all over the desk, half-finished projects and errant beads I’ve pushed off to one side. However, my little space of organized chaos is serving me well in staying refreshed and creative. From what I’ve done with this small space, I’ve learned a few things. Here are my top five tips for organizing a creative space for yourself at home.
1) Organize, organize, organize. Invest in some system of organization whether it be totes, storage containers, a closet system, etc. Ikea has many wonderful and inexpensive options for storage and I highly recommend getting your items as organized as possible.
2) Keep it clean. When I want to transition from creating pieces to photographing them, I put away all my beads and tools before pulling out any of my props and photo items. Doing this instantly transforms the space into an area dedicated to the task at hand. You don’t want to be tripping over your beads or limit yourself to a very small area to work at. Conversely, I take all the papers and junk OFF of my desk before I pull out my beads. I want to spread out as much as possible. Trust me, dedicating the space to what you are doing by keeping it clean will help not only in your creative process but it helps mentally as well. I feel jangled and annoyed when there is too much junk lying around. It clears the mind, to say the least.
3) In the organization system you choose, keep dedicated items away from each other. Have a spot for photography props, another spot to store mailing items, another spot for your inventory of creative supplies. This really helps with time, you know right where to go and just what to grab when everything is in order.
4) Good lighting. Make sure you have the best lighting possible in your space. If you don’t have good natural light, invest in some full spectrum bulbs or some specialty craft lighting (Ott lights are highly recommended.) When I used to bead on the couch, I once made a necklace of what I thought were matching glass beads. Turns out some beads were pink, and some were peach. It was a mess. I curse that couch situation! Get yourself the proper lighting, you won’t regret it.
5) Enjoy! There’s nothing more satisfying than claiming a space of your own for your craft. You deserve it, and it will be key in keeping you happy and stress free. When I beaded on the couch and out of a paper bag I often found myself avoiding the act of creating because it was such a hassle and I’d get entirely stressed by the beads rolling around on me. I also made more mistakes and created items too slowly because of the environment. You owe it to yourself, even if your family has to eat dinner on the living room floor because you took over the dining room table permanently. Take something for yourself, don’t feel guilty and enjoy it fully!