I always enjoy seeing other artists’ work spaces. They are full of inspiration – what materials they use and how they organize their supplies. I also find less-than-perfect spaces to be motivating, because it gives me hope for my own studio located in our completely unfinished basement. I hope you feel the same, because I spent the last couple of weeks going through my stash and reorganizing all the goodies, and I wanted to give you a little tour!
First, I just wanted to share the top lesson that I learned:
Organization is key, but so is having everything VISIBLE and WITHIN EASY REACH.
This means that having all of your paints organized is wonderful, for example, but does nothing for you if they are in a closed shoebox off on a shelf in the corner. The opposite is true: You can have a big ol’ box of dozens of paints right on your table, but if you have to waste time sifting through the box looking for what you need, it will ruin your flow or you may just stop using that material altogether in favor of the one that is right at hand. So take your materials out of their packages as soon as you purchase them, and arrange them where you will see them and where it takes minimal effort to retrieve (and put away!)
A quick disclaimer before the tour: you should know that I am an art supply junkie. I love art and craft supplies, and can be a wee bit impulsive when discovering new materials that I don’t have yet. I get excited being surrounded by all of these choices, however it can overwhelm others, and by no means do you need to have a lot of supplies to create magnificent work. As you can see around this site, I am still a beginner – it’s all about practice, not your materials! You can do amazing things with just graphite and paper, for example. Use what you have! 🙂
And finally – dollar stores and Goodwill are awesome for sourcing organization and storage solutions.
Let’s start with the first thing you’ll see when you walk downstairs. 🙂 I set up several workstations – to the right is my sewing and quilting table, and in the center is a polymer clay table, but it can be used for jewelry making or whatever other miscellaneous craft I want to do at the time. On the far left you can see some of my molds and stickers for the glittery resin charms I do on occasion. I covered the dirty cinder block walls with fabric from Jo-Ann.
- The tables are 6 ft and 4 ft folding tables from Menards.
- Shop lights are from Lowes and are the plug-in kind, so no hardwiring required.
- The chair and the rectangular lamp are old furniture I repurposed from storage.
- All black shelves you will see in the space are from Menards or Lowes, but that little white shelf on the bottom left is a Goodwill find for a couple bucks.
- Some thread racks were also Goodwill finds, as were the big fruits hanging up on the wall and the little two drawer storage on the sewing table. I spend most money on supplies, not organization!
This is the opposite side of the space and my main work area. More glitter and resin making supplies to the left, with the rest of the area devoted to painting and mixed media art supplies. In this photo you can see my Liquitex heavy body acrylics, Neocolor II crayons (stored flat on a Dollar Tree aluminum baking sheet for easy visibility), alcohol inks, and some embossing/stamping supplies.
I have a Macbook with a damaged screen, so it has become a permanent fixture in the space with an external monitor ($10 at Goodwill!)
Let’s take a closer peek…
Here is my main painting table. Lots of brushes, mediums, markers, pens and pencils are within easy reach. I created my own “divided” water bucket with a 3-for-$1 set of buckets from Dollar Tree housed inside a disposable food storage container I had sitting around (probably also from Dollar Tree). Above this folding table sits a separate glass top that I purchased from Menards. I stuck some scrapbooking papers under it to look pretty. 🙂
To the right side you see a glimpse of something I created that really excited me: a DIY display for all of my papercrafting supplies. This is easy to make! Get some binder clips, cable ties, and some sturdy thick yarn that has some lattice to it. Stick a cable tie through one loop of the binder clip, through the lattice of the yarn, and close it up. Repeat every few inches. Hang it from anything – I have mine hanging off a pole near the ceiling. Clip packages to it (or make your own “packages” with zip lock bags) and you have a great way to keep your supplies in view!
This is where I do my filming, too – you can see setup in the photo below (top left.) I screwed a piece of scrap wood to the ceiling joist, and then added a couple screws near the bottom of the wood (jutting out). I use a rubber band around these screws and my Sony Handycam, pointing down to the work surface.
- See that pink 3-drawer bin behind the chair? $2.99 at Goodwill! The black drawer bin next to it was probably about $5. The chair itself was also a Goodwill find. And the desk lamp. Do you see a trend here? 🙂
- Both shelves on the table against the wall were purchased at Menards.
Here is the other side of my “main painting table.” You will find artist, student, and craft paints here (all are useful!) and various other pigments and tools. I used wire as a DIY towel holder. I believe I purchased the left rack new, but yes, the other cart was a cheap Goodwill find!
Behind is a large cutting table from Jo-Ann, and deep in the dark recesses of the rest of the basement you can get a glimpse of my fabric shelves and my jewelry supply shelf… no tour of those, though, they are still a mess!
And yes, I yarn-bombed our support poles. 😀 (no knitting required – just wrap!)
Finally, let me take you towards the back corner of the studio, where lesser-used supplies are kept.
What you will find in this section:
- Yarn (not only was the rack found at Goodwill, but so was most of the yarn!)
- Artist papers, pads, canvas
- Stencils in portfolios
- Various paper craft products – cards, punches and embossing folders, stamps
- Spools of ribbon (strung up with yarn)
- Cross stitch materials
- 3D embellishments
- Old books for collage (though keeping with the “have materials close at hand” rule, I ripped out several pages from all books and have them in a drawer for easy pulling)
- Dolls, boxes, statues, and all kinds of similar things found at Goodwill that make cool bases for altered art
- Duplicates and excess storage
Whew! That concludes the tour! I hope there are some ideas here you can utilize for your own space – perhaps a new way you can arrange your paints and inks, or motivation to check out your local thrift shops and dollar stores. Be creative with storage ideas. Something as simple as a zip tie made a perfect brayer holster, and was just one of 3 simple components needed in my packaging display. Do you have some sturdy small cardboard boxes? Stack them into cubicle shelves! Learn how you like to make art, and take a moment to improve your space to make your art time that much more productive and fun for you! 🙂
Thank you all, I will see you soon!