Tomorrow I’ll take things to sell to Replacements to help finance the changes I want to make in the studio so yesterday I packed them up – nothing really photogenic. I like Replacements (www.replacements.com) They have a fantastic operation that grew out of one man’s fascination with what people sell at yard sales and they are dog friendly – what’s not to like? Well, okay so there is a significant difference between what sellers are paid and what those items may be resold for. That’s the way it is in retail. A retailer has the building overhead, staffing costs, marketing investment and the myriad of reporting required of any large operation. I do not begrudge them their profit.
When I started this project I imagined that the finished studio would be a highly functional space with super organized tools and materials at my fingertips. My fantasy included built-in cabinets that matched, slide-out drawers to contain materials – maybe an Ikea-esque kind of place. At the end of the first week, I recognize the fantasy for what it is – not simply unrealistic but so contrary to most of my values that I’m laughing as I write this.
I value reusing useful items. I like the look of vintage pieces. I place a high value on things that have been hand-made no matter how quirky. I am not a tidy person – a lab-like studio would intimidate me and keep me cautious. If i dared use it, I’d be spending time cleaning it at the expense of creating.
This does not mean that everything I’ve moved out gets invited back in. I can hardly wait to have a clear enough path to get two of the big work tables out. However. the 4 mismatched shelf units will come back in and fit under a counter that will have a skirt to hide the contents. I’ve got lots of fabric – saris from India, African and Guatemalan fabrics, old quilt pieces and loads of lace curtains and tablecloths. I think I can find something to make a few curtains out of.
Finally, the most unexpected bonus so far to doing this purging process is that I’m going to be able to finish remodeling the kitchen using materials that I wouldn’t have been able to afford if I had to pay for someone else to do all of the work. I will have the space to do the finishing myself with some help from friends. I discovered this gift the second day of the challenge. Some day I’ll rant about the poor experience I had at a big box store trying to buy counter tops. I was ready to place the order and got so frustrated that I walked away. They did me a favor because now I’ll get to have what I really wanted thanks to clearing the studio.
Before and after – or maybe midpoint of this part of the studio. Now that it’s cleared out, this is where a storage bench will go to corral all the leashes, coats and boots. It will have recently unearthed decorative hooks or knobs, probably drawers or cabinet space as part of the seating and a single shelf. I have considered having the seating be a lid to storage but, it will become a drop zone so clearing the seat to access the storage is impractical. This space will still have the washer/dryer, a place for detergent and all and somehow house the indoor recycling bins.
Inside the Driveway Storage Unit. There’s about this much more to pull out of the studio before some serious changes can be made. Haven’t sorted any of this stuff yet. A fourth of these boxes contain fabric or sewing notions which I’ve been collecting for years. I cannot resist handwork – quilt or crochet squares, embroidery or lace.
Find of the day: a box of beautiful pink dolomite rock pieces, collected by a neighbor, given to me several years ago for one of my projects. I used a little of it then and realize that most things I will be doing in the future involve much flatter pieces of things, so I bagged it up and gave it back. She will be able to use the rock in her extensive gardens. One small box of stuff finds a new home.
Independence Day! neighborhood picnic, rain delayed, 11 inning baseball game and midnight fireworks. In fact, some studio clearing did take place – pictures later today. Celebrating my independence from an overwhelming mound of stuff.
Found a fortune cookie message among random pieces of paper: “You have the ability to analyze and solve any problem.” One of the problems now looming is what to do with the things that, no question, will leave the building, forever. Creative Transitions has 4 large, outdoor garbage cans which had been collecting rain water in the driveway. Now they’re beginning to collect cast off things. I wish I hadn’t thrown away their lids, due to lack of storage space. While this could be proof that nothing should ever be thrown out, the cookie reminds me that I have the ability to solve any problem. Given the abundance of the Eickmeyer Collection, there’s surely something here to re-purpose.
Studio, day 3 – I’ve found the floor and the far wall. This may be the first time that Woody, Clark’s pup, has been able to explore the whole room.
I think two of the large work tables will be looking for new homes. The space would work better for me if the storage and a counter lined the back walls. This time, I’ll try enclosed storage or cabinets with clear containers inside. This will help minimize the visual clutter when the doors are closed.
The round folding table is good for parties but not for this space so it will be looking for a new home, too. Over the next 3 days I think I can get the rest of this stuff moved into the DSU.
In the sewing corner I found a stash – 55 pairs of scissors. I know there are more in the studio because these aren’t the ones I use when I teach little kid art. I could dwell on the kinds, sizes and conditions of these guys but I won’t because for now, all I want to do is get everything out of the room. The time for sorting comes later. Some questions though: how did I get so many pairs of scissors, why are they here and how many do I need?
Actually, I know how they got here – mom had a lot of them and when she moved to memory care, she couldn’t keep them because they can be ‘dangerous’ – in fact, if she hadn’t given herself a haircut, that she had scissors would have stayed a secret.
When we work on an estate sale, the whole crew uses scissors – we carry some with us (that’s another 6 pair not included in this count) and there are nearly always scissors in these homes. We pick them up, use them and put them back in our tool chest so periodically, weed them out. But, there is also the Scissors Project. I started painting scissors to give as gifts last year, when I come across a sharp pair, I buy it. What I cannot account for are the handful of very small scissors in the Eickmeyer collection.
I think we all have things that ‘stick’ to us – different things for different people. The things that stick are almost always things a person uses regularly – could be pencils or matchbooks, tape measures or screw drivers. These items are not collections – that is, not carefully chosen items found on a quest. It looks like for me one of those things that stick are scissors. One big category of clutter comes from Items that ‘Stick’ to us.
I found the work tables today, cleared paths to them but they are still piled high with stuff.
Ralph delivered my Driveway Storage Unit this morning. When I told him I was an artist, he told me that he, too, is an artist – his medium is ink on skin. Meanwhile Alan was in the kitchen installing solar shades because when the trees were removed to save the retaining wall, temperatures were reaching 110 degrees in the windows.
Alan is also an artist, studying architecture and an incredibly creative problem solver . He had spent a good part of the weekend organizing his workshop space. Many of us have this problem of needing to spend time establishing order in our creative spaces before we can actually do our creating. He wondered if there isn’t a better way than merely shifting stuff to different places within the space. And he has the very common concern that as soon as he lets some item go, he’ll need it and would have to go buy a replacement. And like most of us, he can only think of one or two times this has actually happened.
I think, radical as it is to put everything out of the space and start fresh, there comes a time when this is a better way, perhaps the only way short of moving to get a handle on all of it. As long as I keep moving the stuff around, finding new systems and snagging different, interesting shop furniture and fixtures, I am delaying the creative process. Painters sometimes get blocked when they see a blank canvas; others of us get blocked when we are confronted with mounds of stuff, the jumble that we have assembled without curating the collection.
So, at the end of day 1, I’ve got the DSU in place, shelves assembled and starting to receive stuff from the studio, a path cleared and some of the first discoveries made. It turns out that I have 8 step stools & ladders ranging from a kitchen stool that needs its seat repaired to the ever handy 6 foot aluminum one which is too big to take out on jobs. Three or maybe 4 will be plenty. Anybody need a two-step stool?
Whenever I walk in my back door, this is what I see. Somewhere, underneath all of this stuff, are 3 studio work tables. This once functional work space is 20′ x 20′, a spacious area for creativity. Over the last year it has become a jumbled dumping ground thanks to a busy schedule of estate sales and several significant home improvement projects including replacing the flooring throughout the house and beginning a kitchen upgrade. To recreate my dream studio, I need to find the walls and tables again. To accomplish this I have a plan- Driveway Storage Unit & the 31 Day Challenge. I have declined all jobs in July to focus on getting this space in shape. The Driveway Storage Unit – appropriately called a Pack Rat Box – arrives tomorrow morning. Each evening before I fall into bed, I’ll record the day’s discoveries, accomplishments, and decisions . I expect this to be an entertaining yet soul searching process. Feel free to follow my progress. There might just be a Storage Unit Sale at the end of the month.