Sunday, 24 January 2010

This Could Be Embarrassing

A subject that seems to come up frequently on the jewelry forums is about organizing.  Over and over, people will write in and ask how other artisans organize their beads and findings.  And we're all so full of good advice - probably comes under the heading of "them that cannot do, teach."  Flipping through various websites, I just found a T shirt that I want to order by the gross - it says, "Organized people are too lazy to look for things!"
Oh, lordy, whoever wrote that is my hero forever and ever.  All these years, I made excuses for myself. " I'm artistic - artistic people can't be organized, it's not in their nature."  "I'm just naturally disorganized, it's my nature."  "I'm a very visual person - I have to have everything out in front of me."
Ha!  Now I've seen the light!  It's not me that's wrong, lazy or neatness-challenged, it's organized people who are basically lazy and having a place for everything is a personality fault, not a good trait.
Not only am I chronically disorganized, I'm a disorganized hoarder. Hoarding is defined in the dictionary as “a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.” Well, isn't that a good thing?  What if you threw it out or gave it to someone else?  Soon as you did that, you'd need it, sure as shootin'.  Other people were Cleopatra or kings and queens in their past lives.  I must have been a junk dealer.
I have made reasonably successful attempts to organize my jewelry stuff.  My first purchase was a few winters ago, when I was looking in Canadian Tire for a snow shovel.  In their tool department (so I love shopping in hardware stores!) they had nifty 40-drawer chests on sale for $15.  The drawers were all see-through plastic and of course it was going to be the answer to my clutter, so I bought two.  It was great fun sorting everything into drawers and I found stuff I'd forgotten I even had.  Wow!  thought me, I'm all neat and organized!
Of course, I couldn't do any work, because it was all packed neatly into drawers and I just didn't feel like it.  That was a long, dry spell and lasted until I rooted through the drawers and pulled about ten of them out and put them on my kitchen table.  Then I had to pull out the remaining 70 drawer to find my findings and jump rings and when I did, had no idea if they were silver or base metal.  I had taken them out of their original packaging to make them fit in the drawers.  And some of the beads - are they glass, or old WalMart plastic beads from my cheap beginnings?  Well, damn, this isn't going to work.
My next foray into organization was a trip to the dollar store.  They had nifty little trays, plastic containers and labelling stuff.  All the sterling silver could be in one container (with dividers, of course) and all the base metal findings could be in another.  Labelled.  Then, a trip to WalMart snagged a cheap 4-drawer dresser thingy that is really quite perfect for my kind of organizing.  More on that later.  I brought an old, felt card table down from upstairs and set it up in my livingroom, and started dumping the little drawers on it to organize.  Big beads in one wooden tray, smaller beads in another wood tray...Oh, look, wouldn't that look good together?  That card table with my beads dumped on it stayed in place for a couple of months and it was probably the most productive beading period I had.
A call from the real estate agent that someone wanted to look at my store and apartment put an abrupt halt to my messy fun.  Trays and containers full of swarovskis and sterling findings got thrown in the top drawer, beads in the second drawer, wire and polishing cloths in the third, and since I had started doing fusing, soldering and art clay, all of the tools for that in the bottom.  All of my base metal findings and cheaper beads were in the 40-drawer units.  I know enough not to stash things in a closet, because prospective buyers could be hurt when everything comes tumbling down, but drawers...if they open my hastily stacked drawers, it's their own fault.
It's actually a good system for me.  Nothing got labelled and nothing is neat in the drawers, but I can see all the beads and find all the findings.  Usually.  It still migrates out to my kitchen table or whatever flat surface is available, but I can hide it fast.
To complement my newfound organizational skills, I thought it was time to get another bead board.  My first board seemed to get buried with ongoing, unfinished projects, so a new, uncluttered one would be great to start a new project on.  Yes, I really am self-delusional.  Now I have two cluttered bead boards and work on a place mat at the kitchen table.  I HAVE to put it away then, or I'd have no place to eat.
Well, thought me, what I need is a big tray that I could move around with everything I needed for the project on it.  Then I could eat at the table and set it on the drawers when I wasn't working on it.  My dear car-pool buddy from my previous life had given me a beautiful hand-painted wooden tray - perfect!  That lasted about a week and "things" kept getting stashed on it.  Boxes, an easel, rulers, tools that came from eBay for beading classes, projects to be melted's got so much crap on it I have no idea what is under it.  I hope she doesn't read this blog.
So I could give people wonderful lessons about how to organize.  Just don't ask me how to STAY organized.  If you really feel the need to be that neat and know where everything is at every moment, you have a terrible personality disorder and are basically lazy.  And I have the T shirt to prove it.


  1. Susan, I could have written this post (although I probably wouldn't have been as funny as you are ;) I've been through a very similar experience, buying the same sort of containers. I need to have everything out in front of me, too, or nothing gets done. I bought some cheap plastic trays at the dollar store, lined them with mats, and use one per project. I have about three or four on the go at once. Gives me enough room to spread stuff out (I don't always use a bead board), and I cover each one with a hand towel so I don't lose the stuff in between sessions. Stacked on my table, this works for me. An added plus, I can carry each tray into the dining room for a beading session if the craft room is too messy (this happens often):)

  2. Hi, I just found your blog and I can really relate to this post! I have been struggling for months about organizing my stash of supplies, only to discover not knowing what to do when everything was put away. LOL Thanks for a great read.