This post from Momastery struck a chord with me earlier this year and I have been meaning to write about about it and how it relates to craft hoarding: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/
Today seemed to be a good day – a day of giving thanks for what we have.
In the article from Momastery, the part about how our economy is based on making people feel “less” so they will buy new stuff really impacted me – do we not do that to each other as crafters sharing our hauls and stash and craft spaces online with one another? The corporate craft gods are really gonna be miffed with me after I write this…
But what I am gonna say here is what you already feel. Maybe you think it. Maybe you say it in hushed tones at the back of the craft room…
There are now days I go into the craft store and walk out without buying a thing. I go in with a list and I leave if they don't have exactly what I want. I sometimes think “who IS this person”? I used to be the lady who dropped $500 a pop at the craft store. How many cars I could have bought….
A few months ago, I ran out of jump rings and I needed ear wires in colors other than super shiny silver. I knew I COULD make them but I didn't really know how and I had some deadlines and I just didn't want to make the stupid jump rings and earwires, okay?! I went into Michael's and their selection left ALOT to be desired. One store down, $0 spent. I went across the freeway to Hobby Lobby and again, the selection was abysmal and I was just DONE. I have a book (Jen Cushman's “Making Metal Jewelry” which is phenomenal) that I could use to learn to make the jump rings. I have wire. Rolls and rolls and rolls of wire. Why did I think I needed to buy jump rings? I really already had everything I needed in my stash and now I was out $10 in gas driving everywhere to look for what I really already had the supplies to create. It's like we're programmed to go to the store and BUY as a solution to every problem instead of getting creative and working with what we have.
There is something fulfilling and gratifying about spending money. Especially when you don't have to. A rush of excitement. You buy a TON more jump rings than you need right now because you might not be able to find them later and you never know when you need a jump ring at 2am. Then, you need supply storage for the stuff you just bought. So that it will look all gorgeous and pretty and your friends will ooh and ahh over how nice your “set up” is. Because God forbid you leave the jump rings in the little baggie they came in. Or that you use them up in one fell swoop and have nothing left in your stash to store.
But then afterwards you look around. You have all this stuff. It's not beautiful and it's not a source of pride anymore. It's suffocating you. Burying you in debt and sadness and stress over having little to no money in the bank or to pay your bills. But you have all this glorious stuff!!
But somewhere else in the world are joyous happy people who don't have any of that stuff. And they are living a happier life than you and me. I'm not saying get rid of all your stuff and become a nomad living in a hut (I know, that doesn't make sense but whatever.) I'm saying that we need to get a little perspective on things. Some of us are already there – we've gone through horrible times, the kind of times that force you to take a new perspective on everything. How you live, what you buy, who you talk to, where you go, what you eat… and how you craft.
A good friend of mine came over to visit with me this week and we had a discussion about craft consumerism during the holidays and how the way we craft and our craft spaces and supplies have drastically changed.
“The Black Friday sales started on MONDAY. Can you believe that?! I'm not going to stand in line at 5am to buy craft stuff I don't even need”. I got 3 sets of coupons from the same retailer in my mailbox this week. I'm not going to the store from 6am to 8am for one deal and then from 10am to 12pm for a different deal on Black Friday. I'm not going to the store on Thursday night (tonight). I did not go to the craft store AT ALL this week. In fact, tomorrow I will spend the day cropping with friends and using stuff from my stash to make 120 Christmas cards to send out. No purchase necessary. Though I do need to bring a potluck dish to the party… LOL
I just went through the process of whittling down my supplies and storage so that I could move my space from about 1000 square feet down to about 150 square feet of space. My friend and I talked about “showroom” craft rooms that left us feeling inadequate in the past but NOW, they left us feeling sterile and uninspired. A craft space should have your personality, inspire you, and most of all SUPPORT the activity of you crafting. Well, if a room is perfect or is filled with too much stuff, you won't get a darned thing done in it. Our spaces now are filled with mismatched furniture. They have knick knacks and special trinkets that mean something to us. They are not overflowing with (as much) product as they used to be filled with. We can walk in the room, move around the table, and find all of the things we need within minutes. There are no piles of unpacked shopping bags and still-sealed HSN boxes in the corner of the room. What a difference a bad economy can make.
We could look at our spaces and see what's missing:
- The furniture I sold off so we could survive two surgeries and 3 months of decreased paychecks
- The craft supplies I gave away to charity or sold at yard sale because I was suffocating (and needed the money)
- All the comments I STILL get on the blog posts I did about my craft room with all the Crop in Style cubes that were RIDICULOUSLY expensive
- All the stuff that OTHER PEOPLE would ooh and ahh over when they visited our spaces.
And then we can look at our spaces and see what IS in there. Here's what's in mine:
- My grandmother's old desk from her office. The desk I learned to type on, that Katie drew on with markers, that my grandma worked at every day, that was made before computers existed, that I now get to use. It's a hideous salmon color but I wouldn't change it.
- Prints I purchased from etsy, framed and inspiring me daily on my wall
- A bulletin board with the vision board I made in January with the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters – reminding me of why I am doing this and what I should be doing and where I want to go with my life
- The lights I use to film my YouTube videos
- Some of the handmade things Ive created over the years
- A plush hippo that was a gift from a friend
- A collection of silly wood cows that make me laugh
- My grandmother's old sewing box
- A small collection of paper punches
- A collection of my favorite ink on a spinner my husband put together that has been warped by the weight of the ink bottles and the wear and tear of constant daily use
- A cupcake stand that I love, filled with bottles of paint
- 5% of my previous ribbon collection, whittled down to the best of the best and put on hanging rings so I can actually use it. There are pieces of vintage ribbon from dresses I wore as a little kid sprinkled in there…
- A wire display filled with handmade cards and notes I've received from people over the years
- 6 empty shelves
I don't have an ooh and ahh worthy room anymore. None of this stuff means anything to anyone else but me -I see the room and have a totally differnet emotional, at peace, and fulfilled reaction that no one else can have because it is mine. A reaction I did not have before, when my room was “perfect”. I think of Glennon's post at Momastery and feel like many of the crafters I know are on the other side of where she is at – we didn't have, we got, we got rid of, and now we have what's OURS alone.
We HAD the super fancy, stocked to the gills, designed to the nines room that everyone else dreamed of and drooled over. But it wasn't right. It wasn't enough. Sometimes I bought stuff to put in my room, thinking of other people's reactions to it rather than focusing on whether I needed it and what function would it have anyways. That is just stupid. I don't do that anymore. I WON'T do that anymore.
Then we gave it all up. We gave it up because a child had to move back in with us. We gave it up because a parent had to come stay in our home. We gave it up because the guilt and sadness and shame of debt and loss was too much to bear and looking at all of our stuff was torture. We gave it up because we needed the money to pay off bills, save our home from foreclosure, or buy food for our kids. We gave it up because that kind of extravagance, in the grand scheme of the world, was ridiculous and made us feel ridiculous (“I can't feed my family but I have a bomb-ass scrapbooking room!”). The crazy stash, the crazy amount of space, the crazy furniture…we were hoarders/consumers/rat-racers to the worst degree.
I was feeling a bit insecure about my space when I made this video. I mean, my other spaces, previous to this, have had so much love on my blog and YouTube and Pinterest and this space doesn't WOW anyone. Though my craft room is not the “showcase” and showpiece it was before, I like it now more than ever. I have had this space set up for 3 days now and I have already made 10 projects and 5 videos in it. I keep it clean. I enjoy coming to “work” in it every day. It's debt-free, clutter free, and so supportive of how I craft. It's pretty freaking awesome. It is more than enough. And it is mine.
I'll take “craftitude” over craft hoarding any day.
Have you had to give up things in your crafting or deal with how your space/stuff/stash/situation does not look like it belongs on the pages of a magazine? Tell me about it in the comments.
Great article, Jennifer! I can relate to much of what you said as I have very similar views. My husband has moved my stuff around for years and in spite of giving van loads of it away, it still can overrun my allotted space . We have been very humbled over the past years as the economy and health problems overcame our previous lifestyle. As we age, we realize that life is too short to be overburdened with things we don’t use or need. The curse of possessions comes to mind when I view the isles of craft bins in my garage. Congratulations for down-sizing. I am still working on it and hope to achieve the goal that you have. Thanks for the inspiration!
Jennifer Priest says
Thanks Marilyn. I see a big shift in our culture – I know we are not alone. And that is scary because 80% of our economy is based on consumer products. The pain of this change will be hard but I think it is where we are headed. I feel better when I have less stuff. I think it is hard to handle with our jobs too where boxes of stuff can literally arrive at my door every day of the week. It starts to pile up!
Kay H. says
Thank you, I really needed this. I am so overwhelmed with stuff that I hardly make anything. Every few months there’s another CHA and then tons of new products that I want so that I can make these new cool things but I have so much I haven’t even used yet. I’ve put myself in debt from it all and that makes me feel even worse about not making more. I feel like I’m in this vicious circle and drowning in stuff.
I really need to take your advice and live to make myself happy without needing to have the next new thing that comes out.
Thank you Jennifer!
Jennifer Priest says
Yay, so glad to hear this! CHA is only once a year now but I know what you are saying – the companies live by us buying buying buying. It puts me in a weird spot. I am not saying don’t buy – I’m saying buy SMART. It took me a long time and alot of money to realize the next new thing wouldn’t make me happy.
Going to a weekly embroidery class meant I needed to buy ever more materials, machine feet and gadgets just to keep up with the classes and in the end I gave up the class and started sewing for my own pleasure. I’d been given so much fabric by friends who were trying to sort out their stuff or buying for pennies from the sales table (bargains?) that I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to sew next so I didn’t sew at all. I’ve spent this year sorting and giving away nearly 3/4 of my stuff and what I have left excites me and is easy to find. I have a new, very large craft store round the corner from me and I rarely go in but when I’ve used up most of my materials I know I can go there and buy what I need so I’ll never have so much again. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson this year; unless it truly is very precious and cannot be replaced then everything can be bought again if you need it, so it’s not necessary to keep it all at home.
Wow. Thank-you for such a candid discussion. I too have noticed that I have come out of craft/art stores empty-handed. Actually not even going in. Reading Marie Kondo’s “the life-changing magic of tidying up” has really made me change my outlook on life. The catch phrase in my home is, “does it spark joy?” That goes for people as well! I have used her KonMari Method to purge books, magazines, clothes– everything BUT art supplies. I’m getting there. It has started with choosing NOT to buy more stuff, but it’s a journey. Again, thanks for this article. I was living in my little guilt bubble until this article.
How strange (or is it just life telling me what I need to hear?) that this blog pops up again just when I’m making more changes to my crafting life. I have decided to cut out another club after Christmas and just now go on Tuesdays so once again I can get some of my stuff aa I reduce the type of sewing I do. My husband is poorly and I’ve realised that we aren’t getting any younger and time is not infinite to do things like go for walks and lunch at the seaside and the little things that we love. I feel another big sort out coming on so my craft space which is in full view in our small living room no longer haunts me as I ignore the mess and have no space to actually work.Less stuff= more space to work is my new mantra.
Jennifer Priest says
Kudos to you for making the hard decisions! Let me know how it goes when you get it all done 🙂