Organizing Your Polymer Clay Studio
I don't know about you, but one of the parts of crafting that is the hardest is becoming (and staying) organized. This month I'm going to be writing about a lot of mixed media applications for polymer clay that you may not have considered or thought to try before. But before I can write about mixed media applications, I must first help you to find all those mixed media things that are knocking around in different places of your house.
Why Organization Will HELP You
I recognize that not everyone has a "studio" but most of you have a "space" that you have dedicated to your crafting and polymer clay. Today I'm going to show you a little bit of the spaces in my studio that I have set up to help me do the following:
- Stay organized.
- I do not have to stop working to "search" or "find" something.
- Be more efficient.
- Be more creative.
The use of "zones" in organization is a wonderful way to get started in your polymer clay work. By setting up "zones" you will always know exactly where you products (especially for mixed media pieces) are at and whether or not you need a restock. Let's keep in mind that "zones" doesn't have to be a major thing. Your "zones" for your products might be an acrylic box, an old drawer, and many more. Here's a few ideas to help you organize your space better.
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Use Boxes or Drawers for Like Items
I use a lot of different inks in many of my mixed media pieces. I don't want to have to "search" for what I want or what I need. I have ONE box dedicated to ink pads & their storage. When I need ink pads, all I have to do is grab this box and get the ink color I need out. Be sure if your boxes all match (like mine do) that you label your boxes with what's inside to help you in grabbing the right box the first time.
TIP: Store your ink pads upside down (I turned them over for the picture) so that the ink will saturate the TOP of the pad and it's always ready to work with less "stamping" time.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: If you have a lot of one type of item, try placing them in boxes, bags, or bins all together in one place for quick & easy access.
Place Types of Components Together
There's a lot of things in mixed media that do not need to have their own "individual" spaces. I use a lot of brass components for different aspects of my claying. Most have come from my favorite supplier B'SueBoutiques (check out her fab store) but you can get brass components of lower quality brass at any big box craft store.
I want you to notice something in this photo. All my brass bits are just "in here" and not only brass bits, but also my metal punch tool. Why keep this tool in here? Well, the only time I use it is when I work with metal, so why would I keep it anywhere else? To me it makes no sense to keep this in my spinner with my tools to take up room for something I only use a couple times a month.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: See what easy & quick ways can incorporate "smart" storage solutions into your stash of mixed media elements.
Heavy Body Acrylic Paints
Heavy body acrylic paints are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. But there's a problem, not only are they expensive (starting at an average of $10 a tube) but with all their names it's easy to forget which ones you already own and what they look like. We already talked about storing "like" items together, so hopefully all your heavy body acrylic paints are all together in one section ... right?! I have two helpful tips for you for those heavy body acrylic paints and both involve making swatches.
I have a midori that goes everywhere with me and inside that midori, I keep "swatches" of my heavy body paints with their color name and brand (see picture at left). This helps so that I don't repurchase the same colors when I invest in a new tube of color. I also do the same thing for my studio stash. Stored with my heavy body acrylic paints are LONG swatches of color. I have done the colors in long strips so I can see how the color changes (because they often do) with a dark full coat to a lighter coat.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: Gather up your expensive paints, whether oil, acrylic, or watercolor and catalog what you have so you don't repurchase colors you already own.
Craft Paint Storage Solutions
If you are like me then you have a TON of those 2/$1 craft variety paints. Why? Because they work great on polymer clay. Because they are more watered down, they tend to adhere better and work great for antiquing your projects. But ... the bottles are annoying and hard to store. I store all my bottles in a giant box (and I do mean giant) on a shelf in the corner. How do I use my paint then and get to it quickly? I purchased empty paint containers and filled each little pot with small amounts of paint from the bottles. I've used this set up for 3 years now and won't ever go back to digging out bottles of paint again.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: Try setting aside one place in your studio solely for the purpose of painting your clay or other mixed media projects. This way all your paints are always together.
Polymer Clay Storage
Each and every person has their own way for storing polymer clay. I store my polymer clay in an old library card catalog ... that is I store the clay that I'm NOT using in that card catalog. The polymer clay that I use each and every day is stored in a flexible cloudy plastic (safe for polymer clay) storage container meant from embroidery floss, often called a "Floss Box." I have a video on how and why I use this on my YouTube channel that you can watch; don't forget to subscribe too.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: Take some time to find a system of storage for your clay that works for you!
In order to help each of you dabble in the world of polymer clay and mixed media, being or becoming organized is important. I hope that you will take at least a portion of your next studio time and really think about how organized "zones" might help you be a more efficient artist.