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Messages in the Mess…a Studio Purge

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Ever spend an entire afternoon searching for that one thing you know you have but can’t seem to find? After spending an embarrassingly long time looking I had to laugh at myself. This is why I prefer to use what is within arms reach, there is no search and rescue team needed for that!

It was time to purge the studio yet again, but this time, I went at it ruthlessly and with a sense of humor because some it was a bit ridiculous. The goal was to to clear things out so that if I looked in a drawer or a cabinet, I could see exactly what was in there. Time has proven over and over that if I can’t see it, I won’t remember to use it.

You bet my inner art supply hoarder was in a panic!
The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Even if I thought it was great, if I hadn’t started to use it after say 10 years, then I needed to let it go. This flyer from an art exhibit in 2004 has such potential…but if I haven’t made the time to use it in 13 years then I need to face the reality, I probably won’t ever use it.

What about all the Ziploc bags of project remnants and paper scraps that I just had to save? But wait…there’s more…

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

10+ year old shampoo bottles from vacation because I liked their shape…the remnants of Stabilo pencils because they might come in handy… scraps of washi tape saved on freezer paper because who wants to waste that sacred washi tape…paint that had been forgotten and totally solidified in the bottle…did I really need to save all this for eons?

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Okay, even my inner hoarder admitted this was a bit ridiculous to be holding on to these types of things for decades. How do I know decades? Well, if I date the piles off my messes the way an archeologist does, I know that the hotel shampoo bottles are from a vacation taken in 2005. So anything from that layer of the cabinet was potentially just as old.

Then there were the papers. Oh, was there paper. Stacks of colorful papers stamped, stenciled, and of course gel printed.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Then there were the papers from scrapbooking kit clubs, stacks of bargain paper that were just too good of a deal to pass up…when my now college age daughter was 5. These were the papers I hadn’t touched in eons. At least my inner hoarder was perfectly fine getting rid of the brown papers.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

As papers were sorted into stacks, occasionally I noticed words peeking out, like messages from the mess and the muse. The dictionary paper had fall guy on it…then the first line of a gel print stood out to me…trying to please everyone. Well, that isn’t subtle reminder of a lesson I need to relearn every now and then is it!

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

A game card I found said, “Take your normal turn.” If the muse wanted me to get anything other than a laugh out of it, she had best be less cryptic.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

The muse also kept encouraging me to continue sorting and purging…it was surprisingly emotional to purge this much stuff.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

There were also reminders that this was the right time to do the purge…at least that is my interpretation of the NOW.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Then there were the gel prints that were all over the studio in different drawers. This part of the purge brought me the most joy, just running my hands over them made me happy. And I kept every one of these. My inner hoarder won that battle! They were sorted so I can now quickly find the ones I want when I want them.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

So what did I do with all the treasures I was purging? I loaded up the van and donated them!

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

You can image the panic my inner hoarder was going through having this all head out the door but knowing that they were going to support creativity in others soothed the stress exceptionally well. The new home for all the treasures was a thrift store for art supplies in Cincinnati, Ohio called Indigo Hippo.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

They are a pay what you can store and also do community outreach with art events so art supplies are available for anyone who wants it.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

The store is mixed media playground. They have everything from dress patterns to fabric swatch books to papers to beads to paints (Golden included) to wood scraps to bits and baubles.

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

I hope every city has a store like this because more creativity in the world can only make it better!

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

Even the outside of the building shouted creativity!

The process of purging my art studio, getting rid of unused supplies, and finding a few messages along the way by Carolyn Dube

I would love to say that getting all these treasures on their way to a new home meant the studio looked empty. It looks just like it did before except when I open a drawer or cabinet, I can see what is in there. So now I can see what I have and spend more time playing and less time looking for hidden supplies!

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  • Tracie S June 12, 2017, 9:04 am

    Very inspiring post. Thanks for sharing

  • Barbara Lemme June 12, 2017, 10:57 am

    I too am working on purging. It is truly amazing what we keep and for how long! The most depressing part is to look at old paper craft magazines and realize how many companies, stores and even products have disappeared..so magazines, old projects, directions for never-to-be done projects have to go. But the bits and pieces are the biggest consumers of my space. Oh, and of course old never-to-be used papers. Good encouragement Carolyn. Onward!

  • Elizabeth Kaplan June 12, 2017, 11:28 am

    I WISH every city had a store like this.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m moving in less than three weeks and nothing seems to go in the garbage. 🙁

  • Mary warren June 12, 2017, 11:40 am

    Perfect summary of my life except for loading the van! Haha! Thanks.

  • Michele June 12, 2017, 2:14 pm

    Good for you!!! Onward and upward.

  • Sue June 12, 2017, 2:40 pm

    I am doing a “purge” as well. I am in need of my home back. I don’t have a “studio” for my crafts so they sit in totes around the place and it’s getting ridiculous! I, like you, have got papers from way back, scrapbooking pages, magazine cut outs, stamps, paints, glitter and so on that I haven’t touched yet. So off they go, only we don’t have a place to donate just art supplies, so I am hoping that I can get a few $ back on my investment and then get something new that I WILL use. 🙂 I am new to the world of mixed media but am loving your free videos “permission to play”, I am also hoping that some of my stuff will now get used for what it was intended, creating for the soul. Making art, music and good food is good for the soul 🙂
    This shop Indigo Hippo is amazing and I really want to have one like this up here in Victoria, BC. There are sooooo many artists that simply can’t afford the costs of new supplies all the time and to be able to go to a place like this and pick up supplies is simply a no brainer. Thank you Carolyn for your great attitude and that lovely smile. I totally enjoy your videos.
    artsy love from Victoria, BC
    Canada

  • PatGLex June 12, 2017, 2:52 pm

    Oooh, patterns! . . . I am going to the StencilGirl event in Paducah and have been trying to think of collage items to put together for the trades, and I have a TON of patterns! I think some of the pieces will find their way into the packs. . . . And I may have to make a visit when in town for Stampaway!

  • Catie June 12, 2017, 3:01 pm

    Kudos, kudos, kudos on releasing so many items! It’s reallllly hard to let go of stuff!
    What an awesome thrift store with all the supplies. I’ve never seen anything like that–amazing!
    Best to you. I love your joy!

  • Corrine June 12, 2017, 5:07 pm

    Wow fantastic, wish we had one around here for swaps….I could definitely purge again, but oh not so much as you my friend!!!! Thems a whole lot a paper stacks you had there. WOAH!

  • Amy Schneider June 12, 2017, 5:40 pm

    You are so brave to take the step of purging and lucky you have a place that will love your treasures.
    By the way, how did you sort your gel prints? That’s what I am hoarding now.

    Amy

  • Susan June 12, 2017, 6:46 pm

    I’m in the midst of this also and thankfully, I have a creative reuse depot to donate used/unused/hoarded stuffs. I also can’t let go of my mono prints so I am trying to use them on cards and journal pages. Love all the messages the Muse left for you to encourage your de-cluttering!

  • Jean Marmo June 12, 2017, 7:36 pm

    Wow – what a cool store! You really got rid of a lot! I should do this!

  • Carolyn June 12, 2017, 10:53 pm

    An art supply thrift store–genius!

  • Linda June 13, 2017, 12:47 am

    Thank you for sharing. Such an awesome thrift store. I wish we had one of those in my area.

  • Alison June 13, 2017, 2:52 am

    Well done! I did the same recently (took three times getting deeper and braver at moving on each time) and even found some great stuff I’ve forgotten in the process. And once it’s gone, you never think of it again but just feel so much lighter. The only downside was the time it took…..and it’s never totally completed…needs to be a regular exercise….thanks for your blog. Really enjoy it and find it very encouraging. ??

  • Alison June 13, 2017, 2:58 am

    And thank Goodness there isn’t a store like that near me. Now what do you think I would be tempted to do with the few empty spaces I have now…..you know what they say about one man’s trash being anither man’s treasure??

  • Cathy June 14, 2017, 10:49 am

    I have my fingers crossed in your next post that you will share pictures of your newly organized studio! That’s the fun part! ? What a wonderful store you have there in your town. I have never seen anything like that. What a great thing to do!

  • Julie Welsh June 14, 2017, 11:58 am

    Well done you! Another option is local schools. It’s shameful when teachers have to purchase supplies with their own money! They are very grateful for anything that comes their way!

  • LynneP June 14, 2017, 12:09 pm

    Hooray for you! Such a win-win situation.

  • Sue S June 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    So funny because I am ready to do the same thing. We moved to this house 3 years ago when my creativity we just blossoming. Many coupon items later I have quite a collection of supplies. Time to go through everything! From the old house to the new treasures. Space is feeling cramped again. Thanks for the inspiration! Enjoy your videos and blog.

  • Carol June 16, 2017, 6:38 pm

    Don’t you feel good… I did that not too long ago… probably need to do it again!!!
    When I was purging my mantra was… if in doubt… throw out!
    Happy weekend in your nice organized space? Carol

  • Marilyn Hughes June 16, 2017, 7:47 pm

    I’m so glad you were able to purge and donate the items. My biggest regret was putting off purging and then having the flood do the purging for me. So much I could have donated was lost. Now I plan to either use items or give them away. No more holding onto things just because.

  • Colleen Halpern June 16, 2017, 8:03 pm

    It does seem to be the season for cleaning craft rooms. I have started working on mine. I have 12×12 papers from 2004. I think it is time for them to go!

    I wish we had an art store like Indigo Hippo! It looks like so much fun to just browse there.

  • Jodi June 16, 2017, 9:05 pm

    Omg, I’ve never heard of that store and I LIVE in Cincinnati! Well in a suburb 20 miles north but you can bet I will be checking this out. Thanks for the tip. And congrats on the purging. I know how liberating that can be.

  • Martha L Nethers June 16, 2017, 11:46 pm

    I love those art supply thrift stores! In Austin, TX we have Austin Creative Reuse. My 25 year old daughter and I used to have a monthly “date” to go. But I think she needed a break from her crafting (she does amazing wirewrapped beading stuff).
    One donates used (or sometimes unused) art and craft supplies and we get the benefit of it. An awesome, volunteer run store! It is so popular they extended the hours now and are doing some summer activities for the kids.

  • Joan June 17, 2017, 8:15 am

    Thank you for sharing your creative play. It is a breath of fresh air for me. I have a traumatic brain injury and I can get frustrated following art videos (my brain doesn’t seem to want to remember to pause the video) your art videos and this newsletter sparks my muse. Thank you again and again and again

  • Kathy Lopez June 17, 2017, 8:17 am

    Thank you Carole!!!!! I too am an art stuff hoarder! I go back and forth between WI and FL every year. Imagine what I take with me because it’s too expensive to have two of everything! So here it is a month into being back in WI and I have not unpacked everything because life gets in the way. Yesterday I was looking for my paint brushes of all things!! Never found them…HA! I NEED TO PURGE! Unfortunately do not have that wonderful store to take things to. Thanks for your encouragement….

  • loeyp June 17, 2017, 10:30 am

    This is a time to be soo proud of your muse…it takes a wise muse to listen to the “message” in the “mess” (get it!!). Keep calm & purge on! (note to self)

  • pattisj June 17, 2017, 10:51 am

    I wish there was one near me! I have done some research and will look for local opportunities to share. I have also spent too much time looking for things, but mostly because I reorganized and now can’t figure out where that “perfect place” is.

  • Barbara Hauenstein June 17, 2017, 11:01 am

    Unbelievable! You did a great job! I’m sure it was like walking down memory lane, lol! Thank you for the art spark and everything! You have the best site and group around❤️

  • Theresa Zanassi June 17, 2017, 11:30 am

    Indigo HIppo…what a blessing! What a resource for elementary school teachers or art teachers!!! I wish there was something like it here in the Seattle area!! I would LIVE THERE!!

  • Julie Ousley June 17, 2017, 11:17 pm

    Oh, how I wish I had a store like that one! I am SO envious! It would be SO much easier to get rid of things if I knew that it (they) would be appreciated….

  • Deb June 19, 2017, 10:58 am

    Spent two weeks looking for drawing supplies that I misplaced after a recent purge! Was almost ready to buy more when I found them in the paint drawer that I forgot to re-label!

    But Carolyn, I’m sure people would love your scraps and if you had them send SASEs to you, you would make lots of your followers very happy!

    PS – I also enjoyed making your permission to play journal, especially the ribbon, which I am continuing to use since I made extra. Best idea ever! XXOO

  • Julia Calkins June 19, 2017, 5:31 pm

    Good inspiration. I wish there was a store like Indigo where I live. I would be there all the time. Filling up my studio again!!!

  • nancy dempsey June 20, 2017, 8:14 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on Indigo Hippo. I must venture to town and give it a try!

  • Deb H June 24, 2017, 11:34 am

    I did the same thing a few months ago. I found a great organization in Boston, Artists for Humanity, http://afhboston.org, to donate my purged art supplies to. They even gave me a tour of their facility so I could see my donated supplies would go to better use.

  • Carolyn June 26, 2017, 11:02 pm

    This so funny. I lived in Cincinnati, and never knew about this store. I have been going through my art room because I just painted. Putting stuff away I never use. Been thinking of where to take it. If I haven’t used in the last year it’s going. Thank you.. I enjoy your post.

  • Janneke de Vries June 30, 2017, 7:31 am

    Dear Carolyn,

    I am so proud of you. My craftroom is 3 times worse than yours. Maybe it is time to start a thrift shop for art supplies myself. I think it is the best idea ever!

    Kind regards from Janneke (Holland).

  • Christine January 2, 2018, 10:01 am

    Wow, are you lucky to have such a great place to donate your supplies to. Here it is the dumpster or a thrift store 30 miles away in a town I rarely go to. I am looking at everything I saved now and wanted so much to just shovel it out and start over.