Jo Packham Made Me Do It INSPIRED Me!

Having a home-studio with enough stuff to fill a storage unit to use in a multitude of different types of crafts has nearly overwhelmed me. I suppose if I just stuck to one type of craft, things wouldn’t be so out of hand around here. But I simply can’t so I and my family have had to learn to live among the goods, which I do my best to keep in my little studio room in the garage, or more recently, the same-size area just outside my studio. As my projects grow, my systems of storage of supplies, tools, materials and equipment have grown with it and have begun to take over all possible working space.

Fortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that for producing order in the studio, there’s no better coach than Jo Packham. I don’t know Jo personally, we’ve never met (yet!) but she’s been hanging around my place for a few years now in the form of her books and magazines, all on the subjects of studios and the inspirational artists who create in them.Jo Packham is quite clearly many wonderful things based on the praises of many. There’s been much written by her and likely as much written about her as an author, editor-in-chief, designer, publisher, stylist, parent, friend, businesswoman, and co-founder of the upcoming Creative Connection. She’s been on my mind a lot lately, ever since I visited my dad in Texas a few weeks ago. I’d gone to Barnes & Noble for a few hours of WiFi, and when finished with my work I gravitated to the craft section of the store. And there it was, another fabulous book by Jo Packham. This one, though, was co-written with the ever inspiring dynamo, Jenny Doh. Talk about a two-fer! The book is Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration: In the Studio and Behind the Scenes with Extraordinary Women. I bought it, stuffed it into my computer bag and could hardly wait to crack it open on the flight home.Inspired I was. Not just by the unique and beautiful studios featured, but the stories of the women who built them. This book shares their artwork and designs, tips for organizing, tips for creativity, special memories, favorite color themes, and some pretty incredible personal stories.

My favorite story was the very first one, that of Danita, a mixed-media artist from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. It touched me how she created such powerful color and beautiful images from within her own soul to enrich the world around her while residing in a region that may be considered by some to be just the opposite of beauty. The studio of mixed media artist Pam Garrison might just be my favorite featured in the book. I mean- just look at those shelves! What I wouldn’t do to dig though every delicious box!I also picked up the latest issue of Jo Packham’s Where Women Create (Aug/Sept/Oct 2011). I was so inspired by the story and mission of sisters Melody Ross & Kathy Wilkins and their Brave Girls Club.  I can only imagine the possiblities if my own incredibly creative sister and I lived closer. No doubt we would follow their lead create another amazing wonderland of creative nurturing. Their feature also had me bugging my Mr. Wonderful to surrender the barn and put his boat and man toys to pasture.So, back to my studio…

Having as much crafty stuff (for lack of a more civilized word) as I have accumulated, I’ve had to break the task of organizing into many days. Unfortunately, I’m not always up for  sorting, stacking, arranging, separating, or color-coding, so I’ve been relying on the coach to keep me motivated.I pulled another Jo Packham book from my own library shelf, Organizing Your Craft Space, and have been sourcing it daily for prompts and pushes to keep going towards a functioning, yet still attractive studio space. This book is one of my favorites, and right now it’s only about ten bucks on Amazon! I realized the other day that it’s very likely that an image in this book may be completely responsible for my cigar box storage obsession, but I’ll let you decide.

Image from Organizing Your Craft Space:

My (newly organized) shelves:As cool as boxes upon boxes of colorful vintage tobacco product packaging can be, it does inhibit a good amount of organization if you have a lot of them. I could alphabetize the contents, but seriously, that would last a day. I have resorted to a lot of clear storage bins from Target for the things I need to get at the most and now have stacks of them on my shelves in addition to vintage boxes, cubbies and drawers. It really does make things more efficient, it just may take a while to get used to.I appreciate all the encouragement that can be found in the words and images of Jo Packham’s books and magazines. Giving motivation when I need it to keep my studio a pleasant, inspired and functional place to work and play. Thank you Jo! I’ve even procured a part-time studio assistant to help me with things like sorting and organizing buttons. I only have her for a couple more weeks until school starts. (That’s my daughter, Sarah!)This photo is taken from above the stacks of cigar boxes in the previous image. This is the area outside my studio door that I use now to keep much of my craft supplies.

So, how’s your space looking, whether big, small, on the kitchen table, in a cupboard, corner of the bedroom, off-site facility or plastic tote in the closet? Are you able to keep it up?

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34 Responses to Jo Packham Made Me Do It INSPIRED Me!

  1. #1 - Saucy Chick Sherry says:

    Hi Cathe: What a timely post by you. I just purchased “Where Women Create” for the Tim Holtz feature! Your space is wonderful and colorful and full of inspiration. I find my space is constantly evolving. What works for a while with one type of craft might not work so well for another type of craft so I am changing my storage space often. I am very fortunate to have my very own specialty rooms to create my passions. Thank you for all of your inspiration my dear. Sunday Smiles…

  2. #2 - Jean says:

    I had also greatly outgrown my craft/sewing space, and we are in the process of remodeling our basement to make a much more conducive and inspiring space for me to create in–a wall of shelves is part of my dream for here, as I have also been busy sorting and organizing while waiting for my better half to get on with the demolishing and constructing. The “in the meantime” is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but my plans too have taken a lot of inspiration from Jo Packham. I hope the library does not keep track of how many times you check out the same books–it would be embarassing!

  3. #3 - Darlene Elkins says:

    This is something I really need to do right now. My craftroom looks like a twister passed through it. My old paper storage system has fallen apart and I’ve got so many little pieces.

  4. #4 - Laura says:

    I would love a position as craft room assistant to someone who has all the goodies and creative space such as yours. Spending time playing with all the stash, even if that means organizing and putting them away, would be a dream job.
    I could get lost in Jo’s publications for days and days.

  5. #5 - LCSmithSAVED says:

    I am just in the process of reorganizing my craft space after moving out of the perfect little room at the front of our house to welcome my 89 year old aunt into our home & give her a lovely space to call her own. Each time I tackle this process of organizing myself, I get a little more insight into what works & what doesn’t! My actual work table has been set up in our living room for quite awhile, so I am building my organizing & storage around that home base to keep me able to lay my hands on what I need when I need it. Although I love vintage storage options I tend to succeed more with see-thru bins. I have quite a few old picnic baskets for bulkier stuff, too.

  6. #6 - Laura says:

    Hi Cathe! Love your blog! I, too, am a huge fan of Jo P. and collect her books. My studio has been “in progress” for quite some time, which means I have bits and pieces everywhere! I love your little storage bins from Target and the way you have them organized.

  7. #7 - Kimberly Jones says:

    I loved this post Cathe! I too am a huge fan of Jo Packham, her books, and Where Women Create. I have both books and every issue of the magazine. But…my studio is an absolute disaster! I have a large, beautiful space with a river view and I am so overwhelmed by all my stuff that I can’t really enjoy it! I’m determined to conquer it and the months of August and September are going to be dedicated to just that. Thanks for the inspiration! I’m going to dig out my books and magazines and get to work. LOVE all your bins and drawers and boxes by the way!

  8. #8 - Paula says:

    Hi Cathe,
    Your post is serendipitous! I just last week started a purge. I stay pretty organized, my problem is accumulation. I find when I get rid of even a bit of stuff it helps keep me on the creative bandwagon.

  9. #9 - CreativeGrammie says:

    Aloha Cathe,
    I know what you mean about the “Where Women Create” magazines and books; I have them all from the start! The magazines are my favorite, must haves. And when I discovered Karen Valentine’s “Where Bloggers Create”, well of course I had to join.
    I think there are more and more artisans and crafters that are discovering that it’s ok to be in more than one genre of art or craft. So more and more of us are looking to see how other artists are storing, organizing and hiding their supplies. In addition, as crafters and artists we work alone. So taking time to blog, peruse WCC and WBC kind of pulls us together. It’s like having conversation with each other.
    Oops, didn’t mean to blog off.
    Love your blog and all that you share.
    See you in Blogland

  10. #10 - Shelly says:

    It’s a constant battle to get and stay organized, isn’t it? I’m always working on mine, and it’s always a work in progress . . . Yours is looking fantastic! I love the Where Women Create magazines. Thanks for the book recommendations . . . (wish I had an assistant!)

  11. #11 - pang says:

    your work space look like a craft store. i would like to have a look there

  12. #12 - Christie Cottage says:

    Well I have lots of plastic storage bins too and plastic/rubber stacking drawers. That works great until you have them all filled and you resort to the blue ones you can not see through.

    Happy organizing!


  13. #13 - kristi says:

    Oh Cathe – where to start? My garage is the receptacle of all of my supplies and to say that it’s a disorganized disaster would be an understatement. My dream you ask? To win a personal organizer/designer to come and assist me in creating a space that makes my creativity flow as opposed to sputter and come to a halt when I’m searching for supplies……

  14. #14 - Pat says:

    I think push comes to shove when I spend more time organizing than creating…or on a darker side – when I spend more time LOOKING for the parts for a project than actually making the project! Both are frustrating! At some point there has to be DE-stashing involved! My horror is the same as I read on someones’s email siggy, “My only fear of death is that my husband will sell my things for what I TOLD him I paid for them!”

  15. #15 - Jill says:

    My sewing room is so so but the overflow is a disaster. I even have broken glass on the floor of the storage room that I haven’t had time to clean up…not a good thing. I do have hope though because I’m usually unrealistic 🙂

  16. #16 - Lori says:

    It seems that I spend more time looking for the bits and peices, then creating with them. I just expanded my room, and still haven’t got it sorted out to a space I’m comfortable in!

    Your space is lovely, and those cigar boxes are awesome!

  17. #17 - Berta says:

    I know how you feel. I have a craft space that has to share my many crafts!! Scrapbooking, cardmaking/stamping, sewing, knitting-crochet, beading and about every other craft I see that sparks my fancy! I love to have my lovely decorated craft space also. It is hard to find a even mix between function and decor! I love all of the books you mentioned above. Just finding the time (while working full time) to organize and still create is so hard!

  18. #18 - Leah says:

    I want to dig through the boxes and drawers of stuff in your studio! looks great!

  19. #19 - heidig says:

    Hi Cathe: My home is completely organized from labeled drawers to closets that could remain doorless, they are so beautiful! And yet, my scrapbooking area (that continues to encroach upon my poor sweetie’s home office), is a disaster. I cannot create and remain clean, neat and tidy. It’s impossible for me. So, once a year I go through my “stash” and sell what I can at my LSS tag sale. It forces me to “clean house” and I get a credit at the store to use as I wish. I try my best to purchase only the things I need (read: WANT) and organize as I go. Best of luck to you!

  20. #20 - Laura says:

    We just moved so my studio space is still a little cluttered. In fact, it houses all the moving boxes we have yet to empty…. BUT I have a plan in mind for the space and I’m slowly (cheaply) acquiring the pieces of the puzzle. Once I have all the furniture I need, then I’ll be able to make those things pretty with paint, fabric, papers…. whatever it takes to cover the sad Walmart purchases and make them at least *look* pretty, even if they are cheaply made.

    Luckily, our new place is loads bigger than our last one. I find myself actually fitting things without much problem. It’s shocking!

  21. #21 - Jeannie says:

    I am into many different types of creative things (crafts/arts/music) as well and right now I’m in the middle of another clean and purge over haul of my room. It seemed ‘just right’ when I originally organized my room last year around this time. But a year later, I’m discovering the layout of things isn’t quite right or efficient enough for me. So my advice is keep changing and altering, and trying new ways to organize your supplies so that eventually you’ll find out what works for you.

  22. #22 - Cindy Griffis says:

    Sell??? My horror is that my husband will take it all to the dump! I have told him to ask my friends in and allow them to take what ever they like as my parting gift. (They can tell the difference from a good yarn and the super-store variety!) After hearing your post, he says he may have “theme” day sales….all knitting supplies, pottery, fabric, etc.

    Seriously, I realized that in 10 years I will “be” retirement age. My promise to myself is that I will be able to financially support my endeavors by that time. (Especially since the Day Job funds will disappear!)

  23. #23 - inessa says:

    Hi Cathe, I admire you! I wish I would be so organized! I was searching the inet for Bubble Party ideas, that I made today for my son, and found your blog. So happy I did, going to be your reader! Thanks for all the great crafts, ideas, and freebies!!!
    Do you have any printable images for a 5yrs old birthday girl?
    Inna R.

  24. #24 - Wendy Smedley says:

    So much fun! Love Jo and thanks for sharing

  25. #25 - Immi says:

    My studio is a constant struggle for me. I know that I need to stop bringing things in without sending things out! Sometimes I think it’s more about the collecting than the using. Thanks for the nudge to work on it!

    • #26 - Robin Johnson says:

      I totally agree! I find myself collecting storage solutions and then having to deal with a pile of storage, when I haven’t made a dent in my tools/paints/etc that NEED to be stored!

  26. #27 - Jamie says:

    My space is horrible right now! I have three large shelving units FULL to the brim and every work surface is covered (and not usable). Many of my goodies are tucked away in storage, even. I find I want to be more organized, but I want attractive and interesting organization. And I have a terrible time labeling. At this point I need to pull everything out, group like items together instead of in three places that I have to dig through, and get rid of the items that no longer speak to me. Seriously, it’s a mess. Thanks for this post, I’m in total envy of both your cigar box collection and the card files on the left in the last pic – LOVE.

  27. #28 - debora says:

    You’ve found inspiration and by sharing & posting about this issue you’ve given me só much inspiration. A big THANK YOU!! for that.It’ s like CreativeGrammie said; most of us crafters work alone. If it wasn’t for the WWW i would I would be pulling my hair. To know that most struggle with their workspace is somehow comforting yet both inspiring when I learn how others make it work. As I make miniatures my workshop is filled with a huge array of materials (from paper to wood and from yarns to leather) and (miniature) machines. Their isn’t a theme or guideline that i haven’t tried, to organize it all. By the time it’s all up & running and I know where to find things in a second new materials and/or projects demand new storage solutions. I think it’s inevitable that creative minds stumble onto this problem time after time. I just try to consider the space were it all happens as a part of that same creating process; It’s gotta work before I can start to work. And now I’m off to the workshop to clear up… again! 🙂

  28. #29 - Cathy Graves says:

    I am also a cigar box afficianado (please, God, let me have spelled that right!!) but you really have me beat!! Color me green with envy even though you have to open each box to see what’s in it!!
    I’ve really been enjoying your blog, BTW!!

  29. #30 - Darlene says:

    Ironically, I’m in the middle of a cleanup and reorganization with the goal of creating a more stylish studio. Just a few hours ago, I felt overwhelmed. The floor is cluttered with containers, accordian file folders and piles and piles of who knows what anymore.

    I just decided that tomorrow is another day. And that it was time to surf the Web. It felt good to hear about someone else who is doing battle with art clutter. I also have too many art interests which increases the supply situation.

  30. #31 - Gina says:

    *waves hand frantically* I would be happy to take over for dear daughter, lol. ..wait a minute…Just being around all those colorful boxes would make me faint, then you would be back at square one. Nevermind, but I still love them! 🙂

  31. #32 - Jennifer Stern says:

    Thank you so much for posting this-it came just at the right time for me! My house got flooded 2 days ago and it’s forcing me to reorganize. I knew I needed to get rid of some things, but the thought of possibly making my own space hadn’t occurred to me until I saw your post. I’m going to check that magazine out today and maybe I can eek out a bit of studio space in my little townhouse. Right now everything is stashed here an there all over the house and it’s really hard to find stuff. I knew some blessings would come out of this mess and this is the first one!

    Thanks so much!


  32. #33 - Rupa says:

    I am about to get a dedicated craft room (almost done once carpet gets put in). I can’t wait to organize the room in a creative way. Yours is so inspiring! Let me see how I do in terms of organizing the stuff, it’s gotta be better than what it is now! Thanks for the inspiration as always!

  33. #34 - Robin Johnson says:

    I think you are my sister! my “stuff” has it’s own building outside, and also has gravitated to one end of my laundry room as well. I adore old cubbies, files, etc. and have just started buying cigar boxes to put my stuff in! I love this post and LOVE everything about your space and your storage containers!!! I also agree I have to many things going at once and dearly love to jump from one project to another! I love that I don’t have to clean it up if I don’t want to, or if it’s driving me crazy, then I give in and start organizing, but love that part too! I can spend hours crafting and organizing!
    A kindred spirit,
    Robin Trant Johnson
    Iola, TX