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Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Husband's Perspective on Organizing Craft Supplies

Today I have a guest post to share with you, written by my very neat, orderly, and all-around wonderful husband...enjoy!


My last guest post focused on the pitfalls of craft stores for the husbands of crafty wives. The pitfalls don’t end in the parking lot of said craft store. In fact, they only get more dangerous when bags of materials cross the threshold of your home.

A little background: I have a penchant for neatness: my parents are both very neat and my Mom managed to teach me both how to iron shirts and how to make a bed with crisp hospital corners (she attempted to teach me how to fold a fitted bed sheet several times but that task still strains the horizons of my comprehension). Rebekah’s parents are also very neat and tidy. In fact, Rebekah is very capable of being neat and is an organizational pro at work and when planning events. That neatness, however, does not always manifest itself in the world of craft supplies.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like we’re on the verge of being the subject of an episode of Hoarders with shocking mountains of craft supplies creating maze-like passageways through our apartment. We are generally pretty tidy. The busyness of life sometimes catches up with us, though, and we go through periods where it looks like Ms. Joann H. Fabric herself held a craft party in our apartment that got a little out of hand. There are a few categories that are especially puzzling: 

Fabric. I am not so thick-headed that I don’t know an unused piece of fabric when I see one. Those are pretty simple. The problems start when I see fabric that has already been cut up for a project. My dilemma: when is a scrap of fabric no longer usable? A good rule of thumb is what I (very creatively) like to call the Rule of Thumb. If a scrap of fabric is smaller than my thumb, it is trash. 

Doodads. With all of the jewelry making supplies, sewing supplies [I’m told these are called notions. I do not know why], and tools to manipulate them, there can be piles of very confusing things. Do I keep a 3 inch strip of zig-zaggy border material? Are those 1 inch diameter aluminum discs important? These are questions I almost never feel qualified to answer. 

Receipts. This might sound strange at first. It’s true that receipts are not unique to craft stores. But craft stores seem to put a whole heck of a lot of information on their receipts. On more than one occasion I’ve done some “craft organizing” after Rebekah’s shopping trips and later been involved in conversations that go something like this:

Rebekah: Have you seen my receipt from Michael’s?

Andrew [panicking]: Why? (This is a safe response. “Yes” is usually true but leads pretty quickly to questions of the receipt’s current whereabouts; “No” is usually not true; “Why” gives you some time to wrack your brain) 

Rebekah: That receipt had a coupon on the bottom for 75% off every item in the store from now until next Christmas. It also has an entry code on it for an all expenses paid trip to spend a week working with Amy Butler in her fabric design studio. (This might be a bit exaggerated) 

Andrew [finally recalling the receipts he stuffed in the trashcan earlier that day]: Gulp.

After years of trial and error (mostly error, see above), I recently settled on the best course of action for managing craft supplies: I do nothing. By “nothing” I mean that I have learned to almost never remove any craft related purchases from our apartment.

What I can do, however, is move craft items into what I have designated “Craft Zones.” Our current craft zone is anywhere within 3 feet of Rebekah’s sewing table or the dresser and closet that hold most of the craft supplies. This gets stuff out of the way and lets me say with assurance: “I don’t know exactly where that is, but I am 100% positive it is in some pile in the craft room.” This is not a helpful answer but it’s a whole lot better than saying “I am 100% positive that the extremely small item you’re asking about which is crucial to your project is somewhere near the bottom of our apartment complex’s communal dumpster.”

Even though it can get a little messy, I have no room to complain. First of all, any craft-related messes are rivaled in our life by book related messes—if you’ve ever known a grad student around final paper time, you know what this is all about. Most importantly though, the point of being crafty is not to do it in the neatest and most efficient way possible. Rebekah is focused on making something amazing, and if an awesome final product requires a slight mess, that mess is well worth it.

9 comments:

  1. You guys are so cute :) I can relate with this post, as I am often the guilty one who threw out "that scrap of paper with a phone number on it," or whatever it may be. It's a good thing that there are people with creative minds. We balance each other out.
    Jamie Fenley

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  2. So funny and so true!

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  3. This is a great post, Andrew! 

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  4. Andrew, you MUST write an article (about anything) and get it published.  You are as funny as AJ Jacobs.

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  5. In a effort to have a very "neat" garden, my husband once yanked and discarded all of the perennials I had recently planted.  We laugh about it now (but it took a few years).

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  6. Ohhh you two are priceless! 

    Well said, Andrew! :D

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  7. Andrew, I do believe you need to come speak to my husband personally on this topic!! It's wonderful to see a guy that actually GETS IT!

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  8. hahaha...Ooohhh, Andrew.  :)  I love the idea of a craft zone!

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  9. Eva Mari in Norway :)June 12, 2013 at 5:12 AM

    Now he is a def keeper!! Loved this!
    I'm putting it on my fb profile hoping DH reads it... ;)

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