We have a problem. We have several personality traits and habits that combine into a perfect storm of stored craft supplies. 1) We like to create things ourselves; 2) We hate wasting materials; 3) We try to be frugal. This typically serves us well, but there is one area where it backfires: Excessive craft supplies. This post is a cautionary tale.
We’re getting ready to have a yard sale, which means going through the house looking for all the stuff that we don’t really need. Earlier this year, we read the popular book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo:
We started off strong and actually cleaned out our bedroom enough that we could remove an entire dresser and create a sitting area with a bookshelf. Then we allowed the harriedness to take over and our resolve wilted. Ms. Kondo would be quite disappointed with us I’m sure.
The current effort to clean out the house is not a re-start of the tidying up from earlier this year. We just need to eliminate the unnecessary things so that there is more space for what we need or enjoy. But, back to the problem, which we faced head-on this weekend…
Craft Supplies Run Amok
Em explained how we’re weirdly frugal, like saving twist ties and plastic bread bags. But those things only take up the space of a sandwich bag and a plastic grocery store bag. Plus, we regularly use these items. The things we are sorting are items that we have saved just in case we come up with a fun or useful way to use them in a project. (I think it was mostly Em’s fabric, but don’t tell her I said that. She did admit that she had a problem when faced with the huge pile of fabric once it was off all the shelves).
WHY DO WE DO THIS?!
This stuff is just taking up space in the house that could be used for storing what we actually use, or even better – just open space! Now that we are making a defined effort to resolve this problem, the house is even more cluttered than usual since we took everything out of its hidden storage place to sort it into Sell – Pitch – Donate piles.
Since we’re planning a yard sale, the sell pile is spread out on every floor of the house. The living room has a huge pile of things that have been posted on Craigslist before the yard sale, the basement has a growing pile of bags full of fabric, and our bedroom has several piles that are slowly growing together into one large pile.
Like many projects though, things must get worse before they can get better. And so we press on cluttering the house so it can be less cluttered in the future.
Looking back, this has been a lifelong compulsion of good intentions to complete unspecified projects. I remember briefly learning about origami in elementary school, and then saving scraps of small colored paper to use. Of course I never used them, but I could have used them.
That was the only bar that items had to clear: Can I use this – ever?
I have gotten much better about this, but could still use more restraint. One of the problems is, we do incorporate some of these stored items into various projects. Last year we made a wind chime from extra pipes that were part of a set of shelves for athletic balls.
No, it doesn’t look like much. Yes, it is held together with twine. But we had fun making it with the kids and tied in a little bit of a science lesson on sound while we tuned it. Plus, it really sounds good and the kids love to make it ring as they go in and out of the back door. We had those pipes for several months before making the wind chime.
Since we do get around to using some of our craft supplies, it makes it hard to throw out other craft supplies that may get used if we have even the slightest idea of what to make with them. That wind chime is a minor success. Things that are not so much of a success:
A couple pieces of tree bark in good condition that I planned to make something with. I like the way they look and plan to paint them. I think I’ve had these for over a year:
A cool looking ragged stump section that I was thinking of making into a clock face:
Many small electronic parts, like motors, fans, switches, and the like that I thought would be fun to build something with the kids:
This box o’ electronics has come in handy since I’ve also been saving plug adapters from small appliances that have broken beyond economical repair. Sometimes an item will come new requiring batteries, with the option to use a plug adapter. I sometimes happen to have the correct one in stock. Other than that though, the parts just accumulate in the box.
With all of that said, what do we plan to do to tame this habit now? What can be done in the future? (keeping in mind that we are not close to experts at this)
Not Everything Is Special
This is something to remind ourselves of for the things that we already have in the house, especially if we are having a hard time getting rid of the item. Although we have found some cool ways to work things into a project, there will always be another chance to get something similar. We love going to antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales because it is fun just to search for an item that will fit into our life. But realistically, what can be found in one place can likely be found in another if we really need/want it at all.
It Must Have A Purpose
This is mostly a reminder for the things that we don’t yet have in the house. Unless the item is for a project that is currently in process, we really have no business bringing it into the house. We already have a backlog of things that we want to do, plus many years of developing more ideas. It just clutters the house to add things that are not attached to a project.
It will take great discipline against our crafty nature to maintain a small stockpile from this point forward.
Do you have trouble keeping your craft and project supplies in check? Has your love of creating led to creating piles of things? Do you have a system to keep yourself honest with these provisions? I’m really asking. Let me know.