Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's not me, it's you. (overhaul - phase one)

Craft room. We need to talk.
Just over a year ago, I painstakingly painted, decorated and organized you to suit my needs. We were in love, and couldn't get enough of each other. Unreasonable amounts of tools and supplies were crammed in places you might not prefer to have mentioned on the internet. It's ok. Because everything was stored, yet accessible, in lovely containers. I hate to drop this bomb, but I've met someone else who takes up a lot of space. I know I've doubled the amount of supplies and tools, without increasing real-estate to accomodate this newcomer. My bad. I'm left feeling smothered, and you aren't bringing much to the table anymore. I have needs. Your inadequacies are all I can see when I look at you.
Don't worry. We aren't breaking up. It isn't the end... it's a beautiful new beginning. And maybe after your makeover, if you prove worthy... I'll start calling you my studio. Doesn't that sound fancy? You best bring your A-game.

I still like your colors. I like my workbench. I like some of my storage. It's not all bad.

I know I sound like a spoiled wench for bitching about this, seriously, at least I have dedicated craft space. This is a luxury for most, and I don't take it for granted. But I'm a woman on the edge. Here's the good, the bad, and the fugly about the space/things I have in their current configuration.

Exhibit A:
The craft room, pre-dollhouse/miniatures (almost).
Well, to be honest, this is technically after I got started with minis, it just hadn't exploded yet. This is pretty close to the original setup I just never got around to art in there, except for that gratuitous-narcissistic-self-praising-accomplishment-wall.

That's the best I can do for a 360 degree tour. So, yes it's messy, crowded, and there's more wasted space than I care admit to. But you wouldn't believe how much crap is stored in there, as-is.
So here are a few things that aren't working for me:

Exhibit B:
My damned walls.
I'm not utilizing even half of the wall space that I could be. While I love to admire my many certificates, I don't need them in this space, occupying an entire precious wall. Those will be coming down with wall-to-wall open shelving added in its place. I've been looking at maybe doing a little vintage wallpaper treatment behind the shelves.

This seller has a lot of really cool options, just limited quantities. Some might even work beautifully inside a dollhouse. Please don't buy this one (above) out from under me, unless you have to. It's my fave so far. Just gotta measure that one wall to see if she's got enough to cover it. *crossing fingers* I won't need much.
Also, I've cleared with my husband to have both doors turned to open out of the room instead of into it. That is going to do really great things for my useable square-footage. Which maxes out at 100 on a good day. This is approximately a 10' x 10' room, give or take a few inches (HA! That's how men measure :)

I got that work bench/desk for $10 on craigslist. It was painted gross flat baby-poop yellow, one of the legs had fallen off, the hardware was horrendous. But it was 6' long, shallow depth, solid/heavy homemade construction, with 2 working drawers. Ten minutes from my house. Need I further explain? (I glued the leg back on, sprayed it with white appliance enamel for durability, changed the hardware, etc. DONE. I'll be refacing the drawers with something cool eventually.) I love my Ikea organizer that hangs above the workbench, that's staying. I'll make a pegboard system in the open space above the Ikea organizer for frequently used tools. The ribbon spools over the wrapping area will be moving. Somewhere on another wall. The paper-towel holder and magnetic tool strip might move too.

Exhibit C:
Stupid storage.
I know why I stored things the way I did, originally. I was primarily a beaded jewelry maker, who also hoarded supplies for candlemaking, scrapbooking, woodburning, furniture restoration, painting, drawing, sewing, embroidery, knitting, calligraphy, wrapping presents, and some other stuff, too. Everything was separated into lovely hatboxes and totes and looked cute around the room. And generally, small storage is cheap storage.
Or sometimes cheap storage is just cheap storage. Check this shit out.

Yep. That's how I store the glue gun. In a cardboard box on the floor. Probably fine.

The lumber yard is useless, as is. Can you tell what I have to work with? Sizes? Quantities? Yeah, me neither.

Expensive scrapbook papers just tossed into a girl scout cookie box.

Except when they're recklessly tossed into the *gasp* scrapbooking drawer.

Sanding implements, and most of my clamps. Dumb.

That trunk is full of fabric...

and so is this fucking bucket.

Oh, and this giant ugly plastic bag is stuffed with beautiful leather:

Oh dear god. Look away!
The egg crates. I saved these to organize small random components (which is why I recently purchased those acrylic organizers, like a big girl). Those components are going to end up in an incredible vintage unit I just bought. (It's in the process of being cleaned and painted. See next post.)

I find these sights, and several others to be horrifying and embarassing. I'm a grown-up! Why is everything still in cardboard boxes?! I left my last dormitory a long time ago. This behavior has got to stop. Or, all joking aside, hoarders is going to show up. 

Exhibit D:
Why is half this crap even in here?!
I originally went to school to be a paramedic, but clearly, I've lost all ability to triage/prioritize.

I'm going to be doing some soul searching and decide what really needs to be in this space. While I love a one-stop-shop, I don't have the space, so some items will have to move out into the non-climate-controlled area in the attic. I already have a few ideas for what can go.

The wrapping center. It's a lovely set-up. Well organized, totes full of bags/stationery, and boxes of bows, even a tissue paper organizer. This does not belong in here, except for the basket of scotch tape. I need that shit. I'll be sending those rubbermaid drawer things through to the attic, too. Not necessarily the contents. I'll use them to keep stuff I use less often organized in the attic space. I've got big plans (or just a big piece of furniture) for this wall. I'm so excited about it, I can hardly type. Again, NEXT post.

Exhibit E:

I've got a sweet skylight. And the only other light I have is one of those stupid 'boob lights"...


I'm in the market for a non-hideous track light with lots of bright lights I can point at my all work areas. Wouldn't that be lovely? Yes, it would. 

The skylight is sick, and works way better when it isn't nighttime.
And I have that cheap orange task-light (pictured on desk, above) I got at the Wal-Mart bargain tent. I think it was $5. That's where Wal-Mart shuns the products so terrible/so unwanted,  they don't want to be seen selling them so they kick them out of the store entirely. It's all been out there for months, and you pick through bins, and everything has a strange layer of film on it....
Task-light also seen in the following photo, which illustrates perfectly why no projects or tutorials are happening at this time.

I know. Excuses, excuses. I'm hoping to have about half of the reconfiguration finished in the next two weeks. I gotta get rollin' on some projects, man.

More posts about this project coming this week! Excitement!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tax returns...like the second coming of Christ(mas)

Yep. It's that glorious time again, when Uncle Sam is generous enough to let me have a little more of that money I earned. Obviously I'm feeling political, so if you don't appreciate, this is one of those books where you only have to look at the pictures. Towards the end I'll be chatting about a mission I've become obsessed with, so you may care to read that part.
But since this about getting my tax return last weekend and with as much of it as I spent, It's also about what I didn't spend it on (like a plasma tv, or a weekend in Vegas, or a Harley). Of course being the responsible adult that I am, I used the bulk of it to pay off the larger of my two student student loans. I'm pretty pleased with my(righteous)self. Then I had a little left over cashola, so I had some fun with it last weekend. You know, to stimulate our economy. Here's what I bought, (and sometimes, Y). 

My first stop was a junk/antiques shop that I've been dying to check out. It was fun to poke around, you literally dig through piles of crap, it's all in deplorable condition, and less than half of it has price tags (and when they do, it's outrageous). Awesome. So you just hold stuff up and the lady tells you how much she wants, and you negotiate. I felt like I was back in Jamaica. So ridiculous. After some haggling, I spent $10 on the following 3 items:
Not the flag with the pledge on it. Look higher. It's only the best yard stick ever. NBD. Original price $4.

 This beauty is solid brass, but she wanted 7 bucks for it. Nope. (It's going to be a planter on my dollhouse rooftop deck Not worth $7.)

 This little woven box is adorable. Could be an ottoman, side table, two baskets, whatev. I can't recall, but I think she wanted 2 or 3 beans. Over my dead body. 

So in the end I saved about 33%, but probably still overpaid. Don't you just love a bargain?!

After that I headed over to Woodcraft. I wandered for a long time, but left with these prizes.

 This is pretty exciting. But the picture on the Woodcraft website shows it way better:
Not that this little guy (below) hasn't been adequate. I'm not replacing him, I'm adding to the family. He's still my go-to-guy for simple jobs. Someday when I do a 'tour-my-craft-room post', I'll show you just how many rulers I've adopted. Sometimes I feel like Angelina Jolie, but more glamorous.

Also picked this up:
because I'm sick of this:
And it was only $5. But you get what you pay for. I don't think it works, because the second picture was taken after I tried the gadget. Fail. I'll probably be returning this. Currently leaving the tool in it overnight, maybe that'll do it? (To quote the wise Van Halen "only time will tell, if we stand the test of time". That's how that works? Thanks,dude.)
They also have a selection of exotic woods in planks as thin as 1/8". I know this will eventually come in handy.

I went to a couple of local bead stores. I picked up this stuff...
 More vases and lamps, but I imagine you could have figured. I'm so predictable, even I'm bored with myself.
 That bead (top center). So bizarre. What the hell kind of animal is that? Half cow, half donkey, half dog. (since that's bordering on an obvious South Park reference, I'll just call it manbearpig). Any ideas?

I had to have it because I clearly have a soft-spot for pathetic misfit oddities.
Remember these? I do. They're pretty much all up in my grille 24/7/365.

Just kidding, stud. You're too cool for school (and definitely too good for me).

Anyways. More beads.

These are tigers eye. And totally gorge. These are going in the piano room/study of my dollhouse, suspended from the ceiling by fishing line. Unless I change my mind. 

And a bead reamer, finally. It was only $5, and has 4 changeable diamond tipped bits.

Since I shopped until I dropped, I hit up Ocean State Job Lot.
 Snatched up this contractor's clamp light for $7. I can latch right on to my workbench to help light my dollhouse for photos (since it lives on the floor). I'll figure out some diffusers. Easy peasy.
 Otherwise, this is what I'm up against for lighting:

Then there's baskets and baskets of drawer pulls for $1 each. I bought 4:
 While these would look great as non-working industrial lights, such as these:
Non-working lights are against my religion, so I'm thinking barstools.
These are the brushed nickel, but they also had chrome. I just scavenged until I had 4 of any matching color, then threw the others back. If they came in gold, you know I'd have brought those home too.

I know, I know. These CB2 chair ornaments aren't news. Everyone has them and rightfully so. They're cool. But what's cooler, is that I only paid 50 cents apiece for them. Yep $3 bought 6 chairs (+ shipping). So if you don't have these yet, the price is right. They were originally $3.95 each!
(I especially like what Mini Dork did with hers in the Fashion house. Gray suits them beautifully, and looks super chic.)
 What else is that, you ask?! Well, that's a TV keychain. It lights up and makes noise. I cut off the keychain-y parts, and shazam. A 1:12 scale 13" TV!!

And I know these aren't new either. But I wanted them, even if I had to buy 8 (because they're actually wedding favors). I Got them at http://www.navyandlavender.com/product/ghost-chair-favor-place-cards-set-of-8/
These go with everything. Kind of like flip-flops. I've heard through some other bloggers that they're slightly too large for 1:12, but that never stopped me before. The price was reasonable, but shipping wasn't. You know, the usual.

I also spent some of my "allowance" on a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies to be sent to our troops, because they deserve so much more than delicious cookies. But this was the opportunity to give back that presented itself over the weekend.

And the big announcement of the century month?!
My next mission impossible: Organization Overhaul. FmyL. I need to redesign the flow/storage in my craft palace. Here's where I started, but expect more dramatic changes in the coming weeks.
I upgraded some of my compartment-type organizers. Bigger, faster, stronger.
Electrical moved into some larger real estate. Look, empty cubbies for me to fill in the future!! I love room to grow. I love it in my house, I love it in my storage, and I especially love it when I'm buying jeans. (It's Girl Scout cookie time around these parts.)

 I used to have all my electrical in one of those medium jobbies (of which you see 4).
 And I bought a few more of these nice 'Making Memories' boxes, even if the shit I make is way cooler than memories. I've rearranged these so that I can locate specific components without working too hard and there's room to grow :). I'll be whipping out my label maker soon, since it's the Robin to my Batman.

I have been brainstorming and losing sleep designing new ways to maximize storage while streamlining my work area. I need to keep frequently used tools/materials highly accessible, but not make it impossible to find/use specialty items. I thought I had a great system, until I started miniatures. Now I have to start over and rethink my process.
 I have plans for a beautiful wood caddy for my lumberyard. I can't wait to build it, just sourcing materials at this point. You'll see when I finish, and I'll show you how to make it. Gonna be bomb.
 That giant dead space over my bench is killing me. And sorry for the mess, but I'm afraid it always looks that way. I'm hoping to rig up a pegboard system there. That would be cheap, easy, convenient, and able to evolve).

Unfortunately, I'm spilling over into the attic (accessible only from my craft room). It's ok because we aren't using the space for anything else. It just isn't ideal. No temperature regulation, which isn't great for adhesives, paint, candles/candlemaking supplies, etc.
I keep my gigantic bag of free foam in there. The paint cans are just for scale. That bag could fit 4 or 5 bodies, comfortably. I have it half full, ever the optimist :)

There are going to be more than a few custom/homemade/unorthadox storage solutions, and I'll be sure to fill you in just in case you could use any of the ideas in your own space.

So I'll leave off here, knowing that my next few posts are going to show just how stupid and non-functional my workspace is. My ideas on fixing it. And the kooky storage solutions I come up with. So then I can finish projects that I've promised people. You'll soon see why it's currently impossible. I'm heading out for some craigslist finds tonight... wish me luck, and excellent bargains.