Wel­come cre­ativ­ity by de-clut­ter­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - By Jen­nifer Forker

For crafters, de-clut­ter­ing and re­think­ing a cre­ative workspace might reap ben­e­fits be­yond just find­ing the right paint­brush more quickly.

For some, it can spark cre­ativ­ity.

“It’s dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one, but it’s su­per-psy­cho­log­i­cal,” says pro­fes­sional or­ga­nizer Fay Wolf of Los An­ge­les. De-clut­ter­ing “cre­ates space for the things you love and makes them ready to use at a mo­ment’s no­tice.”

“Peo­ple think struc­ture is bad, but I think rules are great. They give you this frame­work so you have con­trol,” she says.

A few years ago, Wolf set up her piano key­board in a spare closet at home, and found she be­gan us­ing it more. And writ­ing mu­sic. And singing. Song­writ­ing “be­came the pri­mary cre­ative thing in my life, and all be­cause I set up the key­board. I gave it its own place,” says Wolf.

Wolf shares tips for get­ting rid of stuff, in­clud­ing art sup­plies from long-ago craft projects, in “New Or­der: A De­clut­ter­ing Hand­book for Cre­ative Folks (And Ev­ery­one Else)” (Bal­lan­tine Books, 2016). She sets up a stag­ing area with la­beled sort­ing bins, and warns against let­ting per­fec­tion­ism pre­vent progress. “What plagues many of us is the ‘wait­ing for the per­fect mo­ment,’” which leads to do­ing noth­ing, Wolf says in her book. “Ditch the ex­cuses and start with any amount of time.”

Wolf rec­om­mends us­ing a timer, which many cell phones have. Set it for 20 min­utes; you’ll be amazed what you can ac­com­plish in that small amount of fo­cused time, she says.

“You have to be OK tak­ing small steps and know­ing that’s the only way to do it,” she says, adding that it might take five such ses­sions be­fore a craft­ing room starts to change.

Darcy Miller, edi­tor at large for “Martha Ste­wart Wed­dings,” main­tains an im­pec­ca­bly or­ga­nized crafts room in her New York City home — un­til she doesn’t. Ev­ery­thing has its place: Pens are or­ga­nized by type in glass jars on her work­table, and draw­ers are filled with tiny con­tain­ers hold­ing ev­ery­thing from col­or­coded pa­per­clips to washi tape. But when she’s in the midst of a project, the room gets di­sheveled.

“If you could see what it looks like right now .” Miller said re­cently, shortly after host­ing a daugh­ter’s craft­ing birth­day party. Miller is the au­thor of the new “Cel­e­brate Ev­ery­thing” (Harper­Collins).

Cleanup is eas­ier be­cause of her or­ga­ni­za­tional sys­tem, which puts fre­quently

used items in clear, lid­ded boxes close at hand, and messy, bulkier sup­plies in gray, lid­ded boxes tucked onto shelves.

Miller rec­om­mends us­ing a bul­letin board to pin in­spi­ra­tional im­ages and quotes, and to or­ga­nize projects and un­re­lated ephemera, such as con­cert tick­ets or chil­dren’s school fliers. Her en­tire craft room is her in­spi­ra­tion board: She used wall-to-wall cork, sold in rolls, on all of the walls.

Ed­die Ross, style direc­tor for the shop­ping site ATGS­tores.com, rec­om­mends a standup tool chest or a tackle box for stor­ing small tools and sup­plies. He cov­ers his work sur­face with in­ex­pen­sive craft pa­per — torn off a roll — to keep his ta­ble pro­tected from glues and glit­ter, and he keeps a hand vac­uum cleaner nearby for quick cleanup.

Darci Mey­ers, a Boul­der, Colorado, psy­chother­a­pist, says that let­ting go of knick­knacks and art sup­plies can cre­ate space for “what’s in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing in the present mo­ment,” Mey­ers said. “The fewer things we have, the less re­spon­si­bil­ity we have to­ward them and the more free­dom we have in our lives.”

If you can’t toss the mag­a­zine stack or the dried­out mark­ers, Mey­ers asks: Do they make you happy? If not, let them go.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by Darcy Miller shows one of her craft­ing draw­ers filled with tiny con­tain­ers hold­ing ev­ery­thing from color-coded pa­per­clips to washi tape — some of the items she reaches for most.


In this un­dated photo pro­vided by Darcy Miller, Miller, edi­tor at large for “Martha Ste­wart Wed­dings,” is joined by her three daugh­ters in their New York City home’s craft­ing room, which is cov­ered in wall-to-wall cork for pin­ning up in­spi­ra­tional and project im­ages.

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