Monday, January 25, 2010

Crafty Containers

A reader posed this question in answer to my poll the other week: "What are some tips you have to organize art/craft supplies for homeschool? I have one of those under the bed containers (because my space is extremely limited) and get very frustrated with it!" The answer to this great question really has two parts: 1) how I organize my craft supplies, and 2) my suggestions for organizing craft supplies with limited space.

At the risk of discouraging those of you with a small area for your craft things, I'm going to start by sharing how I organize our art and craft supplies as well as my seasonal (non-Christmas) decorations. Somewhere along the way, we acquired several sets of large shelves. I use 2 stacked on top of each other against a wall in our guest room to hold all of our craft containers. This is what the shelves looked like after several months of neglect, kids not putting stuff away properly, and new items just shoved in.

This is what it looked like when I was done with it. I basically put like items together (in containers, and on the same or adjacent shelves, consolidated some things, and threw out the trash. Now, even though it is all neat, I still don't want my overnight guests to have to look at all of our crafting stuff. So, I took an old quilt my grandmother made me years ago and sewed small, plastic circles on the back. Then I put tacks (cup hooks would be much better) at the same intervals along the top of the shelf and viola, a discreet craft shelf!
Now, for those of you blessed with a smaller area to clean, you can still store your crafts neatly and organized in such a manner as to be able to pull out just what you need quickly and easily. The three most important things are containers, containers, and containers!

Each type of craft item (markers, paints, beads, stamps, etc.) should have its own small container. Sort everything out, LABEL the containers, then fill them. If the only place you have to store craft things is under a bed, get several large, flat containers that fit under the bed, then put the smaller containers inside the larger containers. You could have all your paint, markers, crayons, etc. in one bin, then have another container for all your scrapbooking, card making, and stamping supplies, for instance.

Another idea is to clear a shelf in a closet or the pantry and stack your small, labeled containers there. Or, you could invest in a small, 3-shelf bookshelf (less than $20 at WalMart or Target) and put containers or baskets on the shelves.

Organizing your craft supplies does not have to be expensive. Shoe boxes (cardboard or plastic) are a great size for many craft supplies, as are empty baby wipes containers. Clean soup cans can be used to store markers, paint brushes, or colored pencils. Baskets of various sizes that you already own can also be used.

Here's what it all boils down to: put all like items together in the smallest container in which they will all fit. Store like items near each other. Clearly label your containers so that you and your kids know what's where.

This may be obvious, but just in case it isn't, I'm going to say it. The key to keeping your art and craft supplies organized is to put everything away where it belongs as soon as you are done with it. You'll need to train your children to do the same (that's the hard part in my house!).

Q4U: What are your best art and craft organizing tips? Please share!