Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happiness is having a place to store all your flex shaft bits

I've always been a fan of the slogan, "A neat desk is a sign of a sick mind," but eventually creative disorganization becomes dysfunctional. This summer I discovered that my wonderful concrete-floored workroom with built-in sink had reached that point. Not only had I reduced my usable work area to a couple of 12" squares, but I didn't want to go into the workroom at all because it was such a hodgepodge of things I don't know what to do with, and dust, and plastic containers too pitted to ever become truly clean, and grime, and dusty bottles of stuff that probably dried up during the Clinton administration...Well. Part of the problem is that I really have too many interests, so the workroom has to serve too many purposes. It's where I cut and fuse glass, sinter metal clay, dye and discharge fabrics, drill holes in stuff, sand interestingly twisted juniper roots, pour resin, paint papers, make collages, sketch designs, heat-torture Tyvek and synthetic fabrics, patina metal...there are probably a few activities I've left out of the list, but you get the idea.

Okay. I can sweep and scrub and clean, but that's the easy part. Figuring out where to put tools and supplies so that I can find what I want quickly is the hard part. The Rational Mind said, "You have too many interests and you should give up some of them and focus on one or two things that you really care about."

I pointed out to the Rational Mind that one of the things I really care about is trying new stuff, and anyway, I already gave up lampworking, knitting, playing chamber music, and polishing the silver.

Fortunately, I have a daughter who is a genius at organization. A daughter who, last month, was hot, bored at home, and too pregnant to do most of the things she enjoys. So I enlisted The Organizer's help. She was in no condition to do any heavy lifting, but that's what husbands(hers and mine) are for. What she could do was place the entire contents of one overcrowded shelf in front of me and insist that I throw away dried-up glues and unidentified liquids and tell her what each remaining object was and what it was for. Then she classified and organized until, instead of three shelves jammed full of mystery bottles, I had this:

And instead of two deep drawers full of hand-painted and exotic papers whose entire contents I used to strew across the table when I wanted to make a collage or a card, I had this:
She even figured out how to wedge a 20-odd-drawer parts bin in between shelf supports on the counter next to the table where I sit to use my flex shaft!
And it's taken three rounds of recycling pickup to get rid of most of the unusable plastic.

Now that I have all these beautiful vinyl-covered work surfaces, and can actually find most of the things I'm looking for, I've started to get ambitious. Clean and neat is nice, but can I go farther and make it beautiful? A room that not only makes it physically easier to make art, but that also inspires art? Can I put out postcards and embroideries and ethnic jewelry and stuff I just like - smooth stones and driftwood and sea glass?

This idea has led me down some strange and twisty pathways, some of which might be worth writing about as I get stuff in place. (Discovering that cleaning up the workroom only tempted me to start yet more projects, the Rational Mind has retired to the fainting couch.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birth, death, and something in between

It's been that kind of two weeks. I lost a beloved cousin, but gained a grandson; and me, I've been having the kind of pain that probably means one of my degenerate vertebrae has crumbled further. I hope there'll be a way to fix that, but at the moment all I've got is the kind of pain medication that turns me into something like a potted plant. With careful timing I get to use my brain long enough to do errands in the morning and to fix dinner in the evening; the rest of the time I just lay around admiring the latest baby photos and languidly waving my fronds. Fortunately the Organizer keeps a steady stream of pictures. In this one he's scooched up on the little bitty baby quilt I finished just before he was born. The crib, I'm about halfway throughstitching the binding on it. Isn't it strange how even a small quilt turns out to be about six miles around when you get to the binding stage?
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