Operation Clean Studio | Depth

Today we’re going to talk shallow and deep. Wide and narrow.

I’m talking about what I store my supplies in, and the why of it. The bottom line, is this:

Whatever I have my supplies in has to be logical. It has to fit my space, budget, and my needs as a crafter. But most importantly, it has to be simple. If I am storing something too far out of sight, make it difficult to find something or to put it back, the place and my organizational system won’t work. I won’t use it. Chaos will take over.

For each person this is going to be different. Depending on what you have, what you use, and how you craft your choices will be different than mine. But for the sake of sharing my own experience and offering tips for what is working here in my studio, here are some actual examples.

Punches. Oh punches. You aren’t ever easy to store – but I am ok with having a box or bin of punches. However – if I have to dig, if I have to dump my punches out just to find the one I want, this is no good. It is for this reason that my paper punches have relocated to a shallow drawer where they are no more than 2 punches deep.

I’m not including border punches in that – they’re on a shelf in a small plastic bin. Why? Because if I’m wanting a circle or a butterfly or a star, I’m not grabbing my border punches. While they both do the same job, shape punches and border punches serve entirely separate functions and as such can be separated.

You can split stuff up based on how you use it.

The key reason that my hardware store purchased set of drawers has always worked for me is NOT because the little drawers are perfect sizes for storing small embellishments.

No. The reason they work is that they’re shallow enough, AND they come completely out. I can pop a drawer out so that I have the purple buttons right at my desk as needed. I can pull the entire drawer of brads out and find what I need. More importantly – I can put them back in less than a second – just pop it back in.

Quick. Easy to use. Intuitive.

The five-cubbies long little shelf you see above I purchased on clearance at a home improvement store. Meant as a kitchen cabinet add on- it reminded me to look outside of the crafting realm for ideas. We’ll talk more about shopping another day. I want to say that I noted that it’s deep enough for any sticker sheet, and while it’s not tall enough for all of them, all my more narrow stickers, border strips, and rub-ons fit perfectly and are easy to flip through stored here.

Speaking of easy to flip through – I’ve been using these Cropper Hopper paper storage containers for 8, maybe 9 years. I do mean these exact ones too. I’ve added 2 more to my stash to allot for a bit more room, but most are my originals from back in my LSS manager days. The smaller dividers and folders are nice if you keep paper sorted by manufacturer (I do), but the key is how easy they are to flip through and see papers.

Actually, the real key is to make sure you store them in a place an in a way that allows you to easily flip through them. This is a major change that I’ve made – and am so very flad that i did. Patterned paper now gets back into it’s proper place! Imagine that.

All cleverness, I purchased this perfect pink bin for my alphas. Then I got home and realized that only my thickers and Sassafras Lass stickers (which I hoard!) fit into it. I could have used it elsewhere, but I decided to leave that be and eventually as the Sassafras stickers disappear (as they are no longer a mfg) the Thickers can take over. All other alphas (excluding minis, which have a drawer all their own) are kept to the side. This is just one of the six cubbies in a unit purchased for the studio.

Visualize how you craft as you clean. Do you work totally from kits? Do you change your mind mid-project about papers often? Do you go digging for embellishments, or do you mostly just use stickers? HOW will use use your stash, and WHAT will make it easy to get to it?

So what would I put in a deep bin?

I put some embellishment kits. Some alterable items. some odd shaped things. Mini book kits. Things that don’t have a home, that aren’t flat, aren’t tiny enough for my embellishment drawers. In other words – things that won’t get lost by being in a deep bin.

Above you can see a pink clear bin – that’s my in-box. Yes, I decided if I’m going to have a clean studio one thing I need is a place to put new things, things for review, things that can’t just be put away into a permanent home just yet. So far, so good.

I used to have ribbon in a huge plastic tote. what happened was total chaos. paper scraps got in, things got tangled, I threw whole spools of ribbon in… it was CHAOS. It was bad. I’ve got ribbon in these vintage jars now.

It’s not the absolute easiest. But I do not have a space to hang each individual ribbon on it’s own hook thing. That would be easier but space won’t allow for it. I’ve made the jars work. When I look for ribbon I know a general color/width. I can see all my ribbon easily so I don’t poke around or pull out ribbons until I see one I want.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thinking needs to happen before re-organization. The one thing I eliminated as a possibility was doors.

I have one small shelf with a door on it. I hate it. Loathe it actually. It’s a pain. I don’t want to have to open a door to get to supplies. I want them ready for me. visible. accessible. Bins are a nice alternative because they can be removed and such – but keep things looking pretty from the outside.

I don’t have all my answers. I’m not totally done. But I’m getting there. Making progress. And? Technically the studio is clean. What I mean is, all mess has been sorted and put away. I’m just not sure what has a permanent home and what still needs help. It’s a work in progress.

One day at a time. A few minutes here and there. It’s adding up now. In good ways.

13 thoughts on “Operation Clean Studio | Depth”

  1. One tip for making a deep drawer more shallow – acrylic box frames. You can get them cheap on Amazon in various sizes. Take out the cardboard box part and you’re left with a clear acrylic tray that’s stackable. I use them to keep my rubber stamps in a single layer but still get the most out of my drawer. I just lift out the top tray to get at the bottom one. I’m planning to get two more for my chipboard drawer, so I don’t have to pull out all the smaller pieces just to get at the larger ones..

  2. Awesome. It is so interesting to me how we all use such different systems to organize! Did you end up purging a lot with this room overhaul, or was it mostly just finding new homes for all the current stuff?

  3. Looks to me like you’ve made a huge amount of progress and everything makes sense. Logical.

  4. Your studio is looking great. I discovered the “shallow being better than deep” after I had bought 4 deep Elfa drawers (well, actually Home Depot drawers, but they look and funtion just the same). Now I am slowly replacing the deep drawers with shallow ones. It does make it so much easier to find things.

  5. Hi May, if you are purging your stuff, will you be selling any more boxes? I really loved the box I purchased from you in November.

  6. Thank you for sharing your process! And for explaining why it works for you. It all makes sense for me too & given me some ideas for changes in my own room. Thank you! I too still use the Cropper Hopper paper dividers/files -for about 8+? years too! 🙂 Love how they slide out and are easy to thumb thru.

    Was wondering how you sort your embellishments? I might be jumping the gun on that & you’re addressing it a future day – I apologize if so. Thank you again for your inspiration! You are lighting a fire under me! 🙂

  7. I think you have exposed one of my problems for me that I have been too close to see for myself. The more supplies I have the bigger the containers I’ve been buying. So now there are big deep drawers and it’s so tough to reach the stuff at the bottom. You’ve given me something to have a think about, thanks May!

    ** Kate **

  8. I’ve loved watching your progress! You are doing a fab job! Thanks for sharing so many details with us, like the shallow drawers so you don’t have to go digging so deep. Great idea!

  9. I was going to buy another little basket for my bits and pieces but after looking at your pictures, I’m going to use one of my large Mason jars instead!


  10. I love your posts on cleaning and reorganizing your scrap room. It is making me think through my organization tactics and I definitely hit on some new/different ideas…I like the in-box, a go-to place for all new supplies. I am trying to figure out how to incorporate filing by manufacturer and color… I with Bea, will you be selling any more “May boxes”? I LOVE my May boxes, items I would have never thought to purchase! It’s like opening a giant Crackerjack box; you never know what prize(s) you will find inside! Thanks again for sharing your process, especially through the pics!

  11. I love seeing your pictures and progress. Thanks May. DS has asked if he can share my craft room for his model making … so now I have to get rid of a huge amount of stuff and re-organise the rest! I’ll be coming back to your blog for reference often!

  12. Great job! Thanks for sharing your progress. One item that will work to store punches with a handle/lever on them is a towel rack. My friend had her husband mount some 24″ (horizontal) towel racks on a piece of plywood that was then propped against the wall or mounted on the wall (depends if your hubby will let you put holes in the gyproc! lol). They were purchased at Walmart. She then hung her punches on the rack by order of size. If you have the new stackable punches, they arrange neatly on a small shelf.

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