Posted by: cassymuronaka | May 24, 2009

Romancing the studio

Maybe it’s the barely pulsating economy, or the fact that we are firmly entrenched in the DIY decade, but the internet and publishing world have become enchanted with the concept of the home studio and how to organize it. There are YouTube videos, blog photos, and even a new magazine devoted to profiling artists and crafters who have successfully figured out where to put something and, more importantly, how to find it again.

At the heart of this movement is the fact that we all own too much crap and don’t know how to get rid of it.


As one who just made six trips to Goodwill, and who occasionally coughs up raffle items to my local polymer clay guild, I am intimately acquainted with the clutter problem.

Charity donation, or the garbage can, is the last resort for the non-minimalists among us. But few are capable of regularly dragging our feet along the path to one of these destinations. For in order to let go of something, we generally have to be thoroughly convinced that someone else will find it useful. That is, until that person Spring cleans and the whole process starts anew. (I am convinced that there are certain rubber stamps in Los Angeles that have been circulating among crafters for probably two decades now. Eventually, those stamps are going to come back to the women who gave them away in the first place.)

A few days ago, I spent about 45 minutes at Borders book store poring over Where Women Create, the inspiring new publication profiling women with clean studios. Marie Osmond is highlighted in the cover story, and there is no question that her workspace is spectacular, as are the rooms of the other very talented women cited. But Marie has been a wealthy entertainer since her teens, with fistfuls of cash to drop at “The Container Store.” It is the women in the trenches, looking for plastic baskets at the 99¢ store who are really fighting the Good Fight.

A lot of these women are writing blogs, showing how they converted spaces that are little more than broom closets into jewelry factories.

The admirable trait that Marie Osmond and the bloggers share is a profound drive for organization. And that is where many of us hit a wall. Sometimes those walls are husbands – I’m here to testify! – or young children, or dogs that shed too much – Praise Jesus! – or fulltime jobs, or home repairs, or all of the above and so very much more.

Marie Osmond

Most artists very much want to live in more structured environments. However, this desire usually runs counter to another, far deeper drive. And that is the uncontrollable urge to possess new tools and supplies. This can be anything from a broken piece of automobile tail-light (good for making textures) to one of the latest arts and crafts products displayed under the dazzling lights of the annual winter show of the Craft and Hobby Association.

The latter has been my downfall for several years now. The items acquired from company samples and CHA “make and takes” account for the dramatic rise in unstable piles in my studio. And while there has been a perfectly good reason for the acquisitions – I have been freelancing art-related magazine stories for six years – it does not change the fact that I am dead out of storage room.

Thus, my dilemma: While I have recently become ruthless about getting rid of the Size 10 clothes into which I will never ever be able to fit again, I remain powerless to permanently separate myself from Fun Fur yarn.

A solution may be looming dimly on the horizon. In a couple of weeks, I am going to start painting the flaking walls of my living room, dining room and entry foyer. This has forced me to weed through and pack up another perpetually exploding collection downstairs: that of my books.

I haven’t tackled the China cabinet in the dining room yet. But I suspect that I will be able to let go of the two-foot long Williams Sonoma fish poacher that I felt compelled to put on my bridal registry twenty years ago, right after I watched Julia Child cook an entire salmon and cover it with thinly-sliced cucumber “scales.”

And maybe I can ditch the 17 decorative Chinese fans and the six-foot-tall, tri-paneled Thai room separator that I bought one day when I lost my mind at a garage sale.

Perhaps with a newly adjusted attitude, I may then be able to prune the studio with a coldblooded resolve and even find items that disappeared into its giant maw years ago.



  1. We’ve all lost our minds at garage sales. One roommate in 1995 said this after I had brought a particularly ugly bookcase into the house — “How much did they pay you to take that off their hands?”

  2. …able to prune the studio?

    HA, HA, HA, HA, HA

    • I’m glad someone is amused, Myra! 🙂
      I finally started cleaning it out, though. So writing the blog was cathartic.

  3. Room separator? If you’re just going to donate it anyway, stick it into the garage for me, please! Maybe the fans, too–they might go with the ones I brought back from Spain.

    Jeez–and I wonder why I have too much clutter at home and at school? (Actually, I don’t wonder at all. But I still want to look at your stuff.)

  4. Looking at putting her house on the market (and having to move all of her crap for the painter and floor refinisher to work) has apparently helped Amy with the clutter monster. No questions where we got the disease–remember trying to walk up the stairs at our house on La France?

    • No, but I do remember watching you wash what appeared to be three full sets of China in your mother’s kitchen for hours and hours and hours…

      • Yeah. Still bitter–the rule was that you had to wash everything that got dirty till you completed your turn. Oddly, no one ever had the brains to wash THAT NIGHT, or even the next day. But when Baby AMY let it get too bad, her devoted daddy washed them for her! Bah.

        God, I can’t believe that we were as slobby as we were in my family! And my parents actually had people over, a LOT! What must they have thought of us? Brrrrr.

  5. p.s. **** Marie Osmond and her weight loss and her clean home studio!

  6. […] Romancing the Studio […]

  7. […] the Studio Clean Studios […]

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