05 May 2011

Random: Studio Destashing

Anyone who knows me, probably knows that I am a major packrat. It's not my fault; it's genetic. Seriously. The packrat gene definitely runs in my family. Being a packrat is not the same as being a hoarder. A hoarder keeps everything and is practically unable to throw anything away. I'm definitely not like that. I go through tossing binges where anything and everything could end up in the trash, on the curb, or at the local thrift store. When I moved to Providence from Greensburg, PA, I got rid of just about everything that didn't fit in the back of my dad's small Toyota, selling all my furniture and trash-picked treasures to fund the trip.

I don't keep things just for the memories attached to them either. I hardly have any items that I keep purely for sentimental value. Sure, I have photographs, letters from friends, and a few mementos from departed loved ones, but it's not like I keep every single photograph, letter, or memento. I have a select few items, like a metal lobster claw that I found on the beach the last time I saw my father before he died, ashes of my dear friend Fiend who suicided in 2002, a half-empty bottle of my grandfather's shaving lotion, but mostly the stuff that I have is of a crafty nature.

Everything has a potential crafty use: old glasses bottles could be used in a mixed media collage, tangled and broken necklaces could be reinvented into new jewelry creations, saved wine corks might eventually be carved into stamps. The problem is the same one that most Americans face: time. Who in the world has time to do all of these crafts? Even I, who works very part-time out in the "real" world and mostly from home can't possibly finish all of the potential crafts that might happen from my crafty stash. And what good does a huge stash of yarn do if it's just hanging out in plastic bins in a closet somewhere?

The hard part about destashing as a mixed media artist is that you never know when or if you'll find something again... and if you do, it might cost a small fortune. This is especially difficult when said item was, say, found on the side of the road, in a dumpster, or picked up for a song at a yard sale. Some stuff goes bad, like paint, glue, markers, but most items of a crafty nature are good indefinitely... and so the stash accumulates.

Soon, it gets to the point that even if I think to use something that's languishing in my stash, I'll be damned if I can find it again when I need it! I don't want to end up like my mom, a wonderful woman, yes, but one who often loses things she's bought in her own home and ends up buying the same thing over again to replace the one she's lost. And, yet, it totally happens to me! Jump rings are a common re-purchase, as are tubes of E6000. An organized studio seems like a far off dream, somewhere in between losing 20 pounds and winning the lottery.

I've been spoiled by living in a three-bedroom apartment for the last two years. My boyfriend and I share a bedroom, we each have our own studio, and the living room has gradually become more storage than living. It doesn't help that I have supplies for my own use and supplies strictly for class use. Having all the space has been nice, in terms of accumulating and not feeling so bad about it, but now that we're downsizing, it's a huge challenge.

It's a challenge I relish. I want to live in a nice, organized apartment. I want to be able to find what I need, when I need it. I want to have less stuff overall. When it comes to clothes, shoes, and purses, things that a "normal" gal might find difficult to downsize, it's easy. In the winter, I wear boots. Fall and spring I alternate between leather clogs and sneakers, depending on if it's rainy. In the summer, I live in flip flops. I used to own "fancy" shoes (i.e. heels) for special occasions, but right around the time I stopped shaving my legs completely, I gave up uncomfortable shoes, too. I wear my jeans until they fall apart, alternating between two or three pairs, and I buy a new pair when one becomes unwearable. Some of the t-shirts that I still wear, I've had since high school. I guess I probably shouldn't admit this, being a grown woman and all.

I also don't have a problem getting rid of books. Some people keep every single book they've ever owned. Sure, the books started to get dusty from never, ever leaving their bookshelves, but they are unable to part with a book. Since I tend to "destroy" books in the name of art, I have no such foolish attachment to them. A book unread and unloved is a sad book indeed. I figure I can always find the book I want to read in a library, so why bother holding on to it? I'd rather pass it on to someone who might love it. Plus, as anyone who's moved apartments as much as I have knows, books are freaking heavy. Lugging them from one place to the next gets old fast. I rarely keep fiction books. When I'm done reading a novel, I'll either immediately give it to a friend, if it was good, or donate it, if it wasn't. The only books I ever buy are craft books (go figure), but even those I'll pass on after a while.

Craft supplies though? That's tough! I'm making excellent progress this week, so to close I'll offer two tips to fellow destashers:
1) If you haven't used it for a year, get rid of it. Or, if you are simply unable to do so, write a date 6 months from now on the box. If on that date, you still haven't used it, get rid of it.

2) Once you've moved something to the "get rid of pile", clear it out of your house immediately, before you have time to reconsider. Sure, you might end up finding a use for whatever it was the very next day, and trust me that freaking happens to me all the time, but you are way better off without the clutter. Chances are you can either find another way to do the project without whatever it was, or will promptly forget all about the project by next week anyway.

For instance, I just added 20+ yards of a vintage pompom trim to my thrift store box and donated it yesterday. Today I saw a blog about using the trim around the edge of embroidery hoops to create wall hanging and felt a pang of regret. Then, I reminded myself that I don't really like pompom trim anyway and I'm probably never going to embroider anything all that spectacular. Someone else might find that same trim at the thrift store and be thrilled. So whatever. I'll find another project, another day.


  1. GREAT tip about getting it out of your house once you decide to destash. We have the SAME issues here, and share 1 studio which is more like a storage/junk room than a work room. I'm letting go of projects that are 10+ years in the making. Who knew time could get away from me like that? In with the new ideas, out with the old junk!!!!!

  2. Haha. While I am also faced with cleaning out a craft room full to the brim, I couldn't help but thinking: "I know someone who would LOVE a bin full of yarn!" Maybe we should start a Crafter's Anonymous, though it may foster stash swaps as opposed to actually reducing one's stash.


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