I’ve been a crafter my whole life. I may not have labeled myself as such, but my hands have always been busy with one sort of creation or another. My bedrooms, dorm rooms, and living rooms have been stuffed with boxes full of magazines for collaging, art supplies ranging from acrylic paints to pastels to air-dry clay, fabric fragments, yarn skeins…you get the idea.
I’ve hoarded art and craft supplies the way squirrels do nuts in a tree. Though I diligently purge books, clothes, and knick-knacks, I hold on to every magazine, every ball of clearance-bin yarn, every glass bead and block of Fimo clay.
What’s worse is that I add to this cache constantly. I swing by the craft store to pick up an extra bit of floss for a specific embroidery project, and leave with charms for beaded necklaces, colored felt for softies, and fat quarters for future quilting projects.
Never mind that I haven’t beaded in years. Never mind that I don’t have a specific softie in mind for the felt. Never mind that I have never made a quilt, and my sewing machine is more of an heirloom than an actual tool. Nope, none of that matters. Because, I’m sure I’ll need it someday.
I fall in love with the idea of projects so quickly, with the Martha Stewart-esque fantasies of 100% homemade gifts, holiday decorations, clothes, and more. This infatuation leads to spur-of-the-moment purchases…which in turn leads to expectations once I get the supplies home.
Sometimes I start the intended project soon after I make the purchase. Most times, though, the felt/yarn/fabric/Fimo sits in its store bag for days, until I deposit it in its proper place among my crafting supplies. Where it sits. And sits. And sits.
The longer the materials sit, the more obsessed I get with the idea of using them when I come across them again. I’ve held on this long, why give up now? Why relinquish the potential that these supplies hold? I might as well be throwing away the finished quilt/scrapbook/necklace/softie.
What I keep forgetting, though, is those two tiny things that turn beads and wire into necklaces, paper and photos into scrapbooks, and fabric segments into a quilt: time and energy.
I may not be employed, but I’m a busy woman. I write regularly, and am crafting a freelance writing career. I go to swimming classes in Berkeley and into San Francisco weekly. I do the bulk of the chores and shopping for my household. In my free time, you’re as likely to see a game controller in my hand as a set of knitting needles. I don’t have as much time and energy as I like to pretend I do.
Why am I sharing all this? Because I came to a difficult decision last night: it’s time for my first honest-to-goodness de-stashing. I’m going through ALL my supplies -- especially the ones I’ve had since childhood -- and getting rid of everything I really and truly will never use.
These supplies I will donate to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, so I know that they will be used and loved -- not someday, but today -- by children, teachers, artists, and other crafters.
These items will still reach their potential. They will still be made into clothes, paintings, necklaces, and more, but by people who can put the time and energy into making it happen. I’m hoping that in letting go of these supplies -- of letting go of the potential -- I can let go of my own crafting expectations. I can focus on the crafts that truly make me happy, and that I actually want to make, rather than feel like I have to make.
I made good progress last night, though I still have the bulk of my magazines and paper scraps to go through. That may be my hardest challenge. But seeing those squares of felt, tubes of old beads, and hunks of yarn all neatly packed away is very encouraging, and extremely liberating.