Monday, October 11, 2010

Letting go of "Someday"

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.


Drake Sigar said...

That’s very grown up of you. And as far as your pack-rat nature for crafting materials goes, well there are worse habits!

Sherezada said...

Thanks, Drake. I know there are worse habits (heh, I have some of 'em), but it's just a way to help reduce some creation anxiety I've been having. Not to mention, make room in my wee one-bedroom apartment!

The fearless threader said...

I've been trying to havve a de-cluttering of my home and my studio. Every week I go through the things that are stored in both places to see if there is anything I can donate to my favourite charity this week. And every week a whole box or bin liner full of stuff is donated. Problem is I've been collecting it all for around 20 years and it all takes TIME to let go and offer out. And then I go and find new stuff to collect(horde)!

Dana said...

I find the idea of destashing both inspiring and horrifying. I don't think I have the willpower yet to actually go through with it - kudos to you for donating your goodies to the Creative Reuse Center!

Sherezada said...

Fearless, it's great that you've worked a system for de-cluttering into your weekly routines! I hear you on the time element, though. I *still* haven't gone through those intimidating!

Dana, it's totally worth it to de-stash (when you feel ready for it). You'll love seeing all the free space for stuff you actually want to craft! I have to be careful when I go into the CRC...I may end up refilling all those drawers I just emptied!