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Organizing Arts and Crafts Supplies

Updated on September 27, 2015
Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell is a jewelry and watercolor artist. She currently teaches art to a homeschool co-op highschool class.

Mess...The Curse of Creativity

After a careful examination of my art and craft studio, I've come to the conclusion that creativity can be a curse and that I am in need of some massive organization. If you are a creative like me, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Most "visual" people, artists and craftmen, will understand when I say creating is many times a messy process, and at times my best creative ideas come in the midst of my craft chaos.

Let me give an example. I design jewelry. The picture shown is my jewelry-making table. I've been in a very creative state, and I've been making a lot of jewelry for some upcoming shows. My painting table looks similar, but I won't show you the ugly details of that mess. By the way, I call my studio "the scary room", because you just never know what you will find in there.

I show you this to make a point. I have discovered that the mess on my table corresponds to my creativity energy. Mess = Creative Energy. I'm the type of person who needs to have all of my beads out at once, so that I can see what I have and make associations with the different beads, colors, shapes, etc. Many times I have come up with great combinations, because my beads are lying out together on my table. If I had them put away where they belonged, I wouldn't have that aha! moment of realizing the different design possibilities. So, if you multiply mess by two, does a person get twice the creative energy, 2M=2CE? Hmmm . . . looks good on paper . . . something to explore.

The trouble starts when I start looking for something that I need, but can't find it amidst the chaos of supplies on my work table. So it is time to organize my supplies and reign in the chaos. After all, I do need to set a good example for my kids.

Step One...Identify Problem Areas

It is good to start off analyzing problem areas for creative clutter. Is it the desktop? The closet or shelves? Or maybe the floor? What if it is all these areas? After analyzing the problem areas, start finding solutions to these organization problems.

Where is Your Creative Mess?

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Step Two...Analyze your Supplies

My first step in getting my supplies organized is to analyze what I have for supplies according to their purpose. Since I paint, make jewelry, scrapbook and do soldered glass, I have to find organizers and a space for each hobby so that all the supplies for each are grouped together. This is a big adventure. Finding all the supplies in one category amongst all the other supplies. I do this over several days so as not to overwhelm myself.

I then need to figure out a space in my studio or closet that will accommodate the supplies while making them easily accessible. Being able to get to the supplies easily is critical, because they will also be easier to put away when my creative project is finished.

Step Three...Get Organizers to Fit Your Supplies

When trying to find organizers to fit my supplies, there are a few things that I try to keep in mind while shopping.

1. Being able to see my supplies is important. I want to find what I need quickly.

2. Containers that are easy to open and close will make using them more appealing.

3. Measure shelf or floor space where the organizer will be placed. It won't work if it doesn't fit.

4. The organizer needs to protect my supplies from damage.

Art and Craft Organizers for the Home or Studio

Here are a few of my most favorite organizers for my craft supllies.

Stack-On DS-30 30 Drawer Storage Cabinet
Stack-On DS-30 30 Drawer Storage Cabinet

I use these to store my beads and findings for my jewelry making. They are great since I can store beads separately in compartments according to color or type, making finding what I need easier and faster.


Never Lose Another Ruler

I grew tired of looking for a ruler every time I needed to measure wire, paper, or other craft supply. I decided that to save time and energy in searching for one, I would purchase an adhesive ruler. This has saved me countless minutes and frustration. It is now always were I've put it...on the edge of my studio table.

Art and Craft Organizers to Go

I attend craft shows, art studio time at the art gallery. I need containers to hold my on-the-go supplies for my crafts and art. Here is a list of items I use to keep organized on the go.

Creative Options Grab & Go Sewing and Storage Box/Organizer
Creative Options Grab & Go Sewing and Storage Box/Organizer

These would make great on the go organizers. If I had a few of these, I could store my beads, bead tools or painting supplies.


Step Four...Enjoy More Creative Time

Getting my supplies organized saves me time looking for the things that I need. It gives me freedom to be creative by creating more space to work.

What is Your Creative Mess?

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    • hazeltos profile image

      Susan Hazelton 4 years ago from Summerfield, Florida

      My craft room and office are one in the same. I have things everywhere. Every time I try to organize my craft supplies I can't find what I am looking for. Crafting is messy, at least for me. Great lens. I will be trying your tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My current "space" is a small one bedroom apartment where I find most of my storage space in my bedroom along with my work tables. But my "stuff" follows me wherever I am. So I have a little of everything everywhere in each room except probably the bathroom. lol I need better organization, that's for sure.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      I am messy - but I can (usually) find things. I really am due for a clean-up.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      My wife doesn't understand me. As a creative person, I collect all sort of potential art supplies (or junk as she calls it). I desperately need to get it sorted and stored away where it can be found quickly. I need help, I hope this is the start to a happier marriage. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Great tips! My biggest clutter problem stems from wanting to keep everything, 'cause I'll find another project where I can use this bits and scraps.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      When I tidy up I spend days looking for things and next thing I know they're in a mess again!

    • LeslieMirror profile image

      LeslieMirror 5 years ago

      Urghh... I have creative mess everywhere. I think I can't live without it any more))

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      Since my main studio workspace is in view at my gallery I tend to keep it organized at the end of every work session. Not ideal because I think the ability to walk away and just leave everything as it is is actually a good thing during the working stage. However once one project is done it;s nice to have everything in its place for the next one. You've supplied some great tips.

    • Image Girl profile image

      Image Girl 6 years ago

      Oh it all gets out of hand! My steam punk supplies breed! This year I found a lot of big scrap metal.... Which has been a pain. The plastic storage towers on wheels tipped over due to weight and it w horrible! Big sigh!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have a craft room also my office and every area is used so it does get very messy some times. I think it is time to de clutter a bit :)

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      My knitting supplies are in pretty good shape. Where I am messy is, my office. I am sure that I could clean it up every night and still find it messy in the morning. I'm beginning to think I have little gremlins messing it up while I'm sleeping. What I need is more time in a day. But maybe not, maybe I'd create even more of a mess. Love this lens ... you have some great ideas. Blessed.

    • profile image

      marsha32 6 years ago

      Since buying our own home, which provided me a room to call my craft room, things are better. No where where I would like to see them as far as organized, but at least I no longer have to dig through a dark closet to find things.

      My beads are in a box and separated into the small yogurt cups that have lids...each lid marked with what is in it.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      I have two homes and a studio ... 3 creative messy spaces. I need major help; planning to get some shelving and storage pieces this summer. Great lens ... I also enjoy walking in/with nature for inspiration and peace.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 6 years ago

      I was just thinking this morning that I need to clean up my craft closet and then I ran across this lens. Thanks for the tips.