The Joy of De-Stashing

It’s de-stashing day. The Craft Retreat, at 59th Ave. and Greenway Rd in Glendale (Northwest corner) AZ,  rented 40 tables to people, and we are going to be selling the things we make or, in my case, de-stashing. Selling things from my studio that are still usable, but not by me. So I’ve got paints and inks and papers, ephemera packs and rubber stamps, pan pastels, pencil cases, and other stuff.

Parchment paper core to wrap papers around and samples taped on outside of mailing tube.

Come on by if you have the time. I’m also bringing a few of my books, which I’ll sign, if asked.

I’ve spent the last week or so emptying boxes, piling up material, then making ephemera packs, labeling items and putting them in boxes.

Here are some thing I learned:

1. Open up three or four boxes at a time, sort them into piles–keep and go. Don’t start making a “give away” and “maybe” piles or you will stiffen and collapse from indecision.

2. Open and sort boxes till you have a nice “go” pile. Put the “keeps” away, sorting them into boxes according to some sort of system, either by use (collage, painting, jewelry) or by type of item (paper, paints, inks.) If you have a lot of something (rubber stamps) you might want to sort them by topic (leaves, hearts), by holidays, by size or by mounted/unmounted. Anything that makes sense to you. That’s important, because it’s the only way you will ever find anything again. For example, I have a box marked “class” and it holds brushes, scissors glue sticks and items I use when teaching. If I had to assemble it every time I teach, I’d get cranky.

3. Storing papers is hard. I have a lot of papers that are large and need to be rolled and stored in mailing tubes. In order to roll them, you need a core, and I use parchment paper, scrunched up. You can see it in the photo, looking like a firecracker fuse.  In order to remember what I have in each tube, I cut a piece of each kind of paper and tape it to the outside of the tube. In the one shown, all the paper as washi that have gold in them. I have another one for double-sided mulberry papers. Again, whatever system works for you. It’s the only way you’ll find anything.

4. Look at the go stack and sort in the way you will sell. In my case, I made ephemera kits–packages for collaging with a variety of papers and tickets, cards, and other papers in them.

5. Label them with a price. I used masking tape and wrote the price on it.

6. Make sure you take change (both bills and coins) and a method of selling. I’m a fan of the Square. It allows me to take credit cards using my iPhone.

7. Have a plan for the end of the sale. You don’t want to bring the items back into the studio–your purpose is to make room. Know what you will do at the end of the day: Drop the unsold items off at a freecycle location. Drop them off at a Goodwill store. Phone a public school the week ahead of time, and ask if the art department needs supplies. Contact someone in your town to see if a homeless shelter, battered women’s shelter, or other place that helps the under-served needs art supplies. Drop them off, don’t expect anyone to come pick them up.

Hope to see some of you at the sale!

-Quinn McDonald is de-stashing. Just in time for house guests who will appreciate a roomier studio.


The Past in Your Closet

On this Saturday, I’m de-stashing. The Craft Retreat, a local craft supply store, at 59th Ave. and Greenway in Glendale, AZ, is renting tables to customers. Some people are selling items they made in classes they took at the store, others are selling what they make in their studio. I’m de-stashing. Rubber stamps, packs of ephemera, fabric pieces, paints, containers, canvas–tools of art I no longer do.

Gene Simmons, then and now.

While pulling boxes out of the closet, I came across the very first loose-leaf are journal pages I did, about six or seven years ago. A shiver of horror ran down my spine when I looked at them–miles from what I consider acceptable today. But I didn’t throw them out. We grow slowly, and sometimes we don’t see how much we’ve grown, how far we’ve come. Instead of horror, I treated myself to some delight.

Design, construction, materials have all improved. At the time, if I liked a technique, it went into the piece I was working on, whether it was sensible or not. I no longer do that.

The words were still appropriate and fresh. That may be because I’ve been a writer for a long time, and the growth in the collage side is more apparent.

It’s easy to criticize yourself when you look at art you made years ago. But there’s a lot to be learned by looking at an older piece and seeing what you’ve changed. Why did you make the changes?

What was the result?
Why did you choose to do some of the older techniques?
Did they work, or were they a fad?
Does some of the work still please you?
What technique or concept pleases you still?
Is the thing that pleases you now shaped differently, or would you do the same again?
What color did you use most often? Do you still like or use the color?

The answer to all those questions create a pattern of growth in your art that you can see and measure. While you might cringe, it’s also good to know that you have grown over time. Producing the same art year after year without any change means you are stuck.

“I’m not stuck, it’s my groove,” one of my coaching clients used to say to me.

If you are sticking with the same colors and patterns, it’s not a groove, it’s a rut. Look at some of your older work and see what it has to say to you. I was surprised, a nice lesson on change while de-stashing.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who will be selling tools and ephemera this weekend.