Studio Organization Update – The desk, credenza and hutch

Whoa. I left the largest project for last. It was a big job, but it is done and my desk now looks fantastic….although now I can see that the top needs a new coat of paint, who would have known? I haven’t seen the surface in years.

How bad was it? Here is the gory before & the glorious after.

The main storage problem is, and always will be little scraps of paper. I have clear drawers and bins for larger pieces of paper–the problem is what to do with all the tiny pieces you may need for later. (Isn’t that what people on Hoarders always say, “I may need it for later?”)

So, for answers, I went to source of all knowledge of craft and organization, Martha Stewart. Well, more specifically, her minions at The Craft Studio. They suggested storing scraps in sheet protectors stored in a binder. I tried this, but the 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet protectors didn’t work for 12 x 12″ scrapbooking paper. So, I purchased an inexpensive scrapbook at Tuesday Morning, and my world changed forever through organization.

Paper is organized by color, theme, type, whatever I want. So now I can go to the “vintage paper” page and select a tiny piece of dictionary page. Or, I can go to the “vintage music” page and get a piece of music. I have also used pages to store those sets of paper, labels and stickers that only coordinate with each other. When I did the collage mirror, I went to the pink section and pulled from that collection. AMAZING, and yet, why didn’t I think of this sooner?!?!?

Moving on, the painted hutch holds vintage books, knick-knacks, red stacking boxes with tiny quotes, images and other scraps, and other ephemera you simply cannot live without. Tiny Monkeemobile, tiny DeLorean from Back to the Future, I Dream of Jeannie lunchbox? You all have a home in CarrieTown. I also love the meta inclusion of the tiny green painted hutch in the large green painted hutch.

The hutch was long ago separated from its base. So instead, it sits atop the larger metal credenza. I removed one of the doors, and filled it with labeled shoeboxes full of supplies.

The nook between the hutch and the credenza stores plastic drawers for whole sheets of scrapbooking paper, a caddy for scissors and stamp pads, and the scrapbook of scraps.

The desk is so clean, I even put organizing bins in each of the drawers, but I think those photos would only be interesting to me.

Behind the desk, the wooden dresser holds completed artwork, my multifunction printer, and packing supplies like bubble wrap and tissue paper–all items that don’t need to be accessed often.

Atop the dresser there is a basket for works in progress, and hanging folders for paperwork.

In the cleanup I found these narrow strips of cork, so I pinned them next to the window for additional inspiration area. The cork is so thin, I think I am actually pinning directly into the wall, but that’s what paint is for.

The final addition to the studio is this repurposed chandelier. Years ago, my mother and I were are Lowes, and saw two chandeliers shoved in a shopping cart with a $20 price tag. They had been store displays and were covered with dust. I purchased the more ornate one for my bedroom (that rehab will be a whole other blog post), and my mother purchased the other one for her bathroom. Years later, she was tired of the insufficient lighting in her bathroom and gave it back to me. Once my studio renovation was done, I rewired it to be a plug-in pendant and hung it in my studio. It now has a place of pride over my desk. I find it really accentuates the unfinished ceiling nicely.

So, 1 month after I started the studio organization, I can say it is done…for now at least. There are still a couple of projects I want to tackle–painting the built-in cupboards, scaling down the entertainment console–but generally I am done. I could not have accomplished all of this without the assistance of my Energizer-Bunny of a Mom. She was the voice of sanity many times asking why I needed this, or did I really need 17 of that. Together we sorted, cleaned and organized my craft space into the efficient workroom I have yearned for.

Here are more photos of the other areas of the studio:


Studio Organization Update – Storage and Photobooth

I have two wire shelving systems in the studio. One is a standard shelving system, but the other is a weird unit that was built to go inside a closet. It also has an ugly grey fabric cover so you can alternatively use it as a wardrobe. I had so many miscellaneous containers & storage bins on it, I put the cover on. But then I just had an ugly grey blob in the corner of the room.

Step one, take off the ugly cover. Then I evaluated what actually needed to be stored on the unit, and got rid of most of the ineffective containers I had been using to store stuff. I only put back the items that were actually needed, and it gave me room for the vintage suitcases I decoupaged a couple of years ago.

Despite the variety of storage containers, they are unified by labels. The contents are written in pencil, so you can erase and reuse as needed. The top of the shelves are a great location for the odd-sized baskets.

The whole unit sits next to the smaller of the metal credenzas, which is where my portable photo studio lives. The industrial drawers below hold the photo props used for product shots. I removed the doors to the credenzas so I can clearly see the plastic shoeboxes. It also eliminates the pinched fingers that inevitably occurred when opening or shutting the credenza.

Studio Organization Update – Shipping Station

A year ago, I made this tape dispenser to hold my decorative tape. It makes it quick and easy to ship my products out, but the rest of the supplies were organized, but not in the most efficient location.

Since the padded envelope boxes fit so well in the white cupboard, I moved the tape dispenser on the counter below. I also cleared out the drawers below the counter to hold important items related to shipping. Business cards, postcards, pens, gift boxes, receipt books, CarrieTown rubber-stamps, etc. So, when I now get an order it is a quick one-stop location for everything.

Craft Studio Organization – Book Suggestion

While planning out my studio rehab, I have found these two books to be invaluable. They contain many beautiful photos and suggestions for many different kinds of studios. From sewing, paper, jewelry and photography, you will get a million great ideas for organizing your own space. From tiny nooks to spacious barns, you won’t be disappointed.

This links to Amazon where you can purchase the books in new or used editions, with their ever popular free shipping for orders over $25.

Where Women Create by Jo Packham

Organizing your Craft Space by Jo Packham

If you were to purchase only 1 go with Where Women Create it walks you through the craft spaces of famous and not-so-famous artists. Organizing Your Craft Space gives you practical suggestions on craft storage and isn’t quite as inspiring, but they work really well together.

Studio Organization Update – The Jewelry Station

I removed the long cluttered 6′ folding table from the studio. It was a handy place to paint, soldier or whatever on, but it took up WAY too much room and became yet another surface for crap.

I moved the small 4′ table I use for my jewelry underneath the window. The natural light makes it a great workspace for my jewelry. I cleaned out the red tool cart, and now have a place for all of my jewelry supplies. The cart has a large open area at the bottom that fits my bead boxes nicely. This has allowed me to get rid of the clear drawers that weren’t serving my needs.

This is the view of my jewelry station from the desk. The red cart can be moved against the wall to open up the space for large projects.

This is the top drawer, it is shallow and fits the jewelry trays perfectly. I lined the drawer with scrap velvet so the trays won’t move, and if I ever lay pieces on them they won’t get scratched. The center tray is for all those loose beads that never find their way home.

Although it doesn’t look like it, this is organized into storage bins. These baggies are full of findings and beads that aren’t used often, but are still needed.

The bottom drawer is full of pieces and parts used to make new masterpieces. It is much more inspiring to see this drawer rather than a huge pile of whatever on my tabletop.

The bottom compartment holds the bead boxes nicely. There is a pull-down door that can be closed for an even cleaner look. The boxes are sorted by color and labeled on top so I can see what I need from above.

There is even room for a recliner in the new studio–Bobby is very pleased to have a new place to sleep. This is the third home for this recliner. It was first in my mother’s living room, then mine, now the studio.

Studio Organization Update – The Mosaics Cupboards

As promised, I have started the great studio renovation of 2012. I spent a lot of time evaluating how I work best and what I wanted out of a dream workspace. I realized that about 70% of the storage is taken up by mosaic supplies, but 70% of the projects are jewelry & paper. So, I am trying to make the studio more conducive to jewelry and paper projects.

Project #1: The Mosaics Cupboard

When we built my studio seven years ago, we installed used kitchen cabinets purchased from a recycled building materials store. Then I proceeded to stack tons and tons of plates in these cabinets for ‘future projects’. I realized when I start a new mosaics project, I don’t want to spend time cutting plates into tiles, I want to just open a box of pieces and get started. So, I spend $14 at the dollar store and got plastic bins to store shards and pieces. I don’t know if I would trust liquids in these bins, but they work great for storage! I also downloaded these labels from Cathe Holden and printed them on full-sheet label paper. I have made the conscious decision to hand write the labels to save time–even though my precious Brother P-Touch is fab, I need to move forward, rather than take the time to type and print, etc. etc.

Display of the glorious promise of organization, peace and harmony that will soon reign in CarrieTown. The can of Spam is actually a novelty bank, not food product.

However, getting to that place requires lots of sorting, sorting, sorting…..

This is the first of many donations piles. Many items will go back to the thrift store from whence they came.

More bins with labels…and a bored Bobby in the background.

The next steps will be to organize the bins and to continue to discard unrealistic plates–those plates that are heavy ceramic which are hard to cut by hand, or ugly plates which will never become mosaic projects. I am also going to consolidate all the mosaics storage to these two cupboards which will leave the open shelves for more attractive storage.


I have winnowed the mosaics supplies down to one cupboard. The future projects & tools are on the slide-out shelves, and the boxes of tiles are below. There are still a couple of large bins of plates hanging around, but I have stored them in the garage portion of the studio. For the most part, however, I have managed to donate 7 boxes of usable plates to the local thrift store. When I do a mosaics project, I can go here and find exactly what I need.

The Chaotic CarrieTown Studio – Reality Check

This post is the first in the Great CarrieTown Studio Cleanup Series of 2012:
I spend a lot of my free time browsing photos of slick, well organized craft spaces. I have even devoted an entire Pinterest board to this obsession. I dream of being able to waltz into my well-lit immaculate space, sit down, listen to classical music and finally create that masterpiece the world has been waiting for.

The reality is a little more cluttered. I am very lucky to have a craft space. I converted half of my two car garage into a sunny space where I can create my artwork and jewelry and any other messy project I may want to attempt. This year I added a DVR, and it is usually stocked with classic commercial free films and favorite TV shows. I even have a dedicated speaker station so I can plug in my iPad and listen to podcasts.

It is a very creative space, but lately I have been re-evaluating storage. I tend to forget about things unless I can see them in front of my face, which means that everything is visible. Want proof or the chaos, just check out these pics:

As you can see, chaos reigns over CarrieTown. The lower cabinets are filled with entire sets of plates used for Mosaics projects. Since I mostly work on paper crafts and jewelry, I would like to reduce the amount of mosaics supplies and utilize this space more efficiently for shop supplies, tools, and other items that need new homes.

This is the jewelry workspace. As you can see, most of the storage is on the surface, which limits the amount of space I have to work & create. I would also like to get rid of the clear drawers because they don’t work very well.

This is where I do most of my paper crafts…as you can obviously see. I need to find a new way to store all those little scraps of paper that can be used for future projects.

The desk from the back. I can’t believe I actually get any work done here. Wish me luck as I move forward with my organization project. The organization of CarrieTown is an ongoing project, but I thought I would start with the absolute messiest photos so the after pics would look more impressive. Mission Accomplished for messiest photos!

Homemade Packing Tape Dispenser

I was so inspired by this cool cigar box tape dispenser Cathe Holden made (check out her blog, I decided to make one for myself.
Cathe Holden's Cigar Box Tape Dispenser

Michael’s sells these great clear packing tapes with funky designs on them, since I can’t commit to using only one design, I have many rolls lying around the studio. I hate gumming up my scissors cutting them to get a clean tear, so obviously a tape dispenser became indispensable to my studio. I wanted to make this using found objects lying around the studio. Mainly for the whole “waste-not-want-not” mentality, and also because I am cheap and didn’t want to spend any money. The more I looked at purchasing various component pieces, the more I found myself drawn to just purchasing a “real” tape dispenser from the store. So, here are the more or less step-by-step instructions for making your own tape dispenser.

Since I have switched to online banking, I haven’t needed this cool bill organizer I purchased at Target many years ago. It has faux beadboard styling and a convenient drawer for various essentials. (I forgot to take a before picture, but it looked similar to this)

I knocked out the inner dividers carefully and drilled a hole on the sides for a dowel. I then painted the organizer bright turquoise and decoupaged the interior with pages from an old dictionary. ( I know that skimmed over a couple of steps, but this is not a decoupage instruction post.

I also watered down some brown paint and quickly wiped the organizer with that to give it an antiqued appearance.

To create a sharp edge to tear the tape, I tore off the metal-cutting band from a box of waxed paper. I then flattened out the poky metal bits with a pair of pliers.

I then used metal duct tape to adhere it to the organizer. I used the metal tape to give it a consistent look and to safely cover the other sharp edge of the metal (who knew that edge was sharp on both sides.) I then realized that metal tape alone wouldn’t give it the strength needed, so I stole some brass screws from a little box I had lying around the studio. I didn’t have a drill bit small enough, so I used a nail to make small pilot holes.

Now for the most challenging part of this process. How to securely hold the 3″ diameter packing tape onto the dowel spindle? I looked at closet rods, but they weren’t thick enough. I tried to find the foam paint rollers used by Cathe Holden, but my Home Depot only had rollers with their own thick diameter. So, in keeping with my upcycling theme, I decided to modify old spools from ribbon. I cut the edge of one side to fit the tape and did the same for the other side of the roll.

However that didn’t work, because when you spun the packing tape around the dowel, the ribbon spool would spin right off the roll. So, I decided to trim down the other side as well and force the entire spool into the packing tape. I put masking tape along the edge for a really tight fit.

I repeated that for all the rolls of tape, loaded on the dowel and then assembled the dowel within the organizer. I reattached the drawer pull to the bottom drawer, and loaded it up with essential mailing supplies.

Now I can’t wait to get my next order so I can use my new tape dispenser.


I have since replaced the metal strip from the wax paper for a hacksaw blade. The metal strip only cuts aluminum foil, wax paper, cling film and flesh…ow.