The Elephant in the Room…

Hi Friends! When I recorded this vlog the other day I had no idea that so many people felt the same way I have lately about our “stuff”. The word hoarding has negative connotations but when you are a crafter and artist you selectively build a stash of supplies so you will have options when it comes time to work…but if our stash overwhelms us to the point we are too stressed out to work or our supplies become too precious to use it is a problem. Our tools can become our trappings. Let’s chat about that in today’s video.

Video!

If you are feeling overwhelmed you are in good company, just check out the comments left on the YouTube page of this video.  I actually rent a year-round booth to sell my work in so it doesn’t pile up in the studio, since I do a video a day and often extra practice pieces you can imagine the pile-up of projects. Sometime I look at a stack of supplies in multiples and think “If I didn’t teach classes I would not need all of this” but I like teaching and even if I don’t get to teach in person as much as I would like because of my schedule I am not ready to let it go.

I like having the options of a full stash, I never have to run to the store for a bottle of glue or spend $100 on craft supplies for my kid’s school project at the last-minute. On the other hand I have to be honest, I was just going through my oil paints because the drawer I had them in was too heavy and I had a lot of huge 200ml tubes of paint from when I used to teach oil painting…then I found my travel oil painting box with more huge tubes of paint. I also had oils that people had de-stashed to me. To make matters worse some varnish or linseed oil leaked in the drawer it was stored in so the labels looked yucky but since I knew the paint was perfectly fine I could not toss them. But then I was kinda happy because I was like, hey, I can just use these, make a huge painting and have fun with them since they are not prefect looking and precious. They will not go in the museum of pristine art supplies, so let’s have fun!

Luckily I have the shop to put my creations in, online sales won’t work for me, I can’t be surrounded by all of the finished art AND the supplies or it would suffocate me. It’s how I cope with so much stuff that I really do like and enjoy. This is where hoarding art supplies is different from hording other things I think. At creatives we see potential in everything and it is tempting to stock up on new supplies because we are not buying supplies we are investing in our creative future. But if we have so much stuff that the task of making art is daunting you probably have too much. You deserve to enjoy the things you bought. Creating should be a positive experience and if you find yourself with feelings of overwhelm, stress or guilt when you go to create it’s time to take action for your own sake.

I can’t tell you how much stuff is OK, we are all different. My sister only keeps supplies for current projects and only buys what she needs and gives away leftovers (usually yo me 🙂 when she is done, I love having lots of supplies at my fingertips but even I can feel oppressed if I have too much (this usually happens when I have supplies arriving for a class and other freelance projects entering my studio all at once.) Supplies are meant to be used, you deserve to enjoy the supplies you have collected but if you don’t want them or feel guilty about having them because you don’t like them anymore let them go to a school, church or senior center so they can be enjoyed. We don’t know how long we have so we might as well use up that pretty gold paint and gorgeous scrapbook paper!

I want to give you all a big hug, if you have read this far you have probably experienced some of these distressing feelings of craft supply overwhelm. You are not alone in this.  Ironically I have no trouble getting rid of other things like clothes and nick-knacks elsewhere I my home so I know I don’t have a hoarding problem. If you do feel like you have no control over your hording or feel obsessive about your supplies you might need help from a professional therapist. I care about you and creating should be a source of joy and positivity in your live and you deserve that:) Let’s continue the chat in the comments below. Til next time happy crafting!

35 Responses

  1. I feel overwhelmed sometimes but it’s bacause I don’t put thing back after I’m done using them. But when it comes down to either trash it or stash it, stash it wins. I collect paper, but more and more I’m getting to use it before I buy another stack. I’m in the process of destashing stamps, but only the ones I haven’t used in a year. My crafty friends are waiting for me to get rid of other things so I know they’re going to a good home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a problem after using items to put them back. Especially after a crop or classes. One thing that has help is unmounting stamps they take less room to store. Ty for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I feel the same way. I am into beading right now and belong to a bi-weekly group. I come back from a meeting and put my stuff in my craft room (a full size bedroom which is now my craft walk-in closet–I can’t even sit in there–no room). Then when I need a certain size and color of bead, I can’t find it because it is still in a box with the one earring I finished and the other supplies from that project. When I do put away the beads before the project is complete it is even worse. Then I can’t find the exact beads to match the finished part. So, I have recently been organizing my craft room/closet and have re-found a lot of supplies. I have learned to 1) finish the project before putting away the supplies. and 2) make time at home to finish projects before starting a different project so I can put the supplies away and be able to find stuff. Even my husband has to re-organize his workbench area in the garage every once in awhile and put stuff where it goes again.
      I have a lot of craft supplies because I have done a lot of different crafts in my life and I hang on to all the main supplies for each one. I have also inherited my mom’s craft stuff. I am not going to beat myself up over having so much stuff. As long as it can all fit in that one room, and I can find stuff and not re-buy something I already have I am okay with “hoarding” my supplies. And like my fellow beaders say “It’s cheaper than therapy”–hahaha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess I have a little much stuff. But I plan on using it someday. Creating things is good therapy. Hope you have a good week and hugs to you Lindsay.

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  3. I totally understand because I’m a sewer, especially Halloween costumes for the grandchildren; a quilter; a scrapbooker; a card maker; a painter; a beader; a mixed artist wanna be; and I play with polymer clay plus other misc. crafts. so yes, I have some small stashes and a few huge stashes, especially the quilter/paper craft ones but, I pick up a lot of supplies from thrift stores and people have unstashed their stash and gave it to me and if I buy new, I look for sales and I absolutely never go into debt for anything…I hate debt! I enjoy collecting things for my stash and I enjoy using the collection. In fact I made myself a deal, if I buy it, I use it! No more just buying for the sake of owning it. Hubby thinks I have a bit too much….and he could be right….but then he’ll spot a scrapbook store and stop and tell me to check it out. Our local scrapbook store, The Paper Pickle, asked for any products we were not going to use and they were all being given to the women’s shelter and she would be doing free workshop there. I did unload a few things that I didn’t think I would use. A good balance in all things is a good thing and I think I’ve achieved it.

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  4. I only keep things that I know I will used or will used in the future…my problem is where did I put it…I need to be more organize and label stuff would help me so much…but if …I don’t have the room for something…then I don’t buy it…and when I get thur with a projects I put everything away…that way I know where its at when I need it…on the other hand…if I have people giving me supplies that I don’t need I would definitely give to a local school or senior home…but I have seen some ladies room out there that they really do have a problem with buying stuff and I never see them used it…maybe we need a intervention for craft stuff… if I don’t have a space for it…then I don’t buy it….tfs

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  5. I have been a crafter for many years and have, like most crafters, accumulated a lot of “stuff”. Being a former classroom teacher, I know how much money teachers spend out of their own money for art and craft supplies. That is why I periodically clean out the materials I no longer use and donate the boxes to our local elementary school. The teachers look forward to my donations every year so much that they even volunteer to come help me clean my craft room!! 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been feeling overwhelmed by all of my stuff lately, not just art/crafting stuff. I have a frind whose daughter is a new preschool teacher, and I have given her tons of stuff: paper, stencils, rubber stamps and inks, punches, you name it! I don’t even miss what I’ve given her, and have about seven more boxes ready to take over. I have learned over the years that while I might get excited about a new craft, the enthusiasm usually fades by the time I have purchased supplies and how-to books. I am more aware now of what will be my “forever” activities, and I am weeding out the supplies for crafts I don’t currently enjoy (and honestly don’t expect to love again ever). My needlpoint stuff left the building long ago…mor recently it is my stamps that are finding a new life somewhere else. I will definitely keep some stamps, but a lot of the peripheral stuff (certain ink pads, emossing powder, etc) is on the way out. I have found that I feel so much happier more creative, and more excited about crafting, the less stuff I have.

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  7. I think we all go through waves on spending… you make some poor choices at first just to have some supplies in your craft of choice, then you learn to be a bit choosier or you find better suppliers. I’ve amassed enough that I have enough for most of my needs, and I only go shop for fun at the annual Stamp Show or Scrapbook Expo. Even then, with what I have at home, it takes something snazzy to get me excited anymore so I don’t buy just anything. It helps that I have my inventory on Evernote and I have that on my phone so I can check before I buy to make sure I’m not getting a duplicate or even something too close to something I already have. For example… search “butterfly” and if too many come back, then I don’t need another stinkin’ butterfly 😉 I may have a hoard, but it’s a well organized hoard! Not only could I put my hands on anything in 3 minutes, I could even explain to my husband where to find it. Can’t be that bad, right? I assure you, its more than I could use if I lived to be 500 though!

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  8. I have a ton of supplies – and multiples of them. I teach art, however. (average a few classes a week each year) I teach ALL forms of art – ceramics, painting, drawing, crafty stuff, etc. I also scrapbook and craft for my enjoyment.I don’t see it as “hording” to have a ton of stuff. It’s what I have to do to teach exciting classes! Occasionally, I do buy things that I don’t get to use immediately. Other times I buy supplies that are only used for a few projects a year. It happens. Most supplies last for years though, and can be used in multiple ways. The only thing that overwhelms me is keeping it all organized and remembering what I have! My classes fund my “fun” art…. So, I agree – as long as you can afford it, enjoy it!

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  9. Hi, Lindsay! I am a very lucky crafter/artist. When we remodeled our kitchen, the old cabinets went into the small bedroom for my craft room. A friend who is very good at organizing, helped me organize and clean out. Like you, I do all kinds of things, mostly papercrafts (cards, etc.) and watercolors. Right now the elephant in my room is the wedding gown I’m making for my future daughter-in-law! So things are piling up because it’s hard to get to where they belong behind the huge sewing table! I too, like to have what I need on hand so that whatever comes into my mind can be turned into that special card or painting, etc. I think it’s the nature of the beast. Creative people are always thinking ahead and, well, creating! Other people just don’t understand that the empty paper towel roll can be turned into a Barbie elevator tower or the trunk of the “real” elephant in the room for the grandkids!

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  10. oh my goodness: I have spent two whole weeks trying to decide what to keep and what to pass on in my Art room, and I am still not completely finished. I so understand to have on hand and not run out to buy when needed. I also spent 7 years working for Michael’s and with my discount and things on sale; well you can probably guess where I’m going with this:) I love sharing and have recently thought of renting a little room or something and starting a club where others pay a fee to use all and anything of my things because I will never use up everything that I own at my age. Not sure I know how to go about this, but I am sure there are people out there that would love to craft / make homemade things and just don’t have the money for all the items. Any ideas would love to hear them.

    To you Lindsey thank you for all that you share and all the great tricks of the trade..wouldn’t miss one of your classes / videos.

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  11. I’m right there with you right now. I stand staring at all my stuff and it is just chaos. In the process of purging but find it really hard to let go. Speaking of purging… what kind of watercolor paper do you recommend for practicing. I’m just starting the journey and recently purchased the Turners set from Jerry’s. I also purchased Arches cold pressed block but my inner “frugal crafter” puts her foot down on practicing on that nice paper. So, what watercolor paper do you recommend for Practicing basic watercolor techniques? Thanks again you have become an art resource I depend on.

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  12. Good to know I’m not alone in this hoarding problem of ours. Most of my overwhelm and frustration comes from the fact that up until now, I didn’t have a set area where I could create at or where to keep my supplies. So all my supplies have just been in boxes and totes, usually stacked up on top of each other, in our storage building out back. So when I wanted to create something, I would have to go digging through boxes to find what I need, and what used to be a neatly organized box, turned into a jumbled mess of art/craft supplies, with everything coming out of its packaging and all over the place. With 5 kids and a small house, we have no room at all in the house for me to store my supplies at, so everything just stayed boxed up in the building, and I got to where I didn’t want to go digging for supplies, so I didn’t create at all for over a year. Every time I would think about it and want to make/paint something, I would get so overwhelmed at the thought of having to go find the supplies, that I just said never mind and didn’t even fool with it. Finally I got to where I couldn’t stand it anymore, I HAD to create something, I HAD to have a place where I can create, and a place where I can have my supplies within easy reach. So I talked to my hubby and we decided to get a utility building to put out back. Half of it was supposed to be for my craft “room”, and the other half a walk in closet for our 4 girls. Well we finally finished building the closet part last week, and the half of the building that was supposed to be my craft room, me and hubby are sharing it for my craft room and his work shop, since he didn’t have any place to be his creative outlet either. Yea my craft space is smaller than I initially thought/hoped it would be (because hubby got half of my space), but at least I have one now, and hubby and I get to work side by side, which is an added bonus. I’m still working on my space, still need to get some more storage shelves put in, and need to fix my work desk since it’s a bit too narrow right now, but even though most of my supplies are still boxed up, at least they are right by my side where I can get to them easily, and my most used items already have their own homes right at my side. Sorry for this being so long, but I have been so excited about my craft room that I just had to share. And also have to add that a lot of times our supplies alone aren’t the cause of our overwhelm, but rather the lack of organization. When everything has a place and everything is in it’s place, it is so much more relaxing to sit down and create. Creating stays fun and relaxing. But when we constantly have to dig for our supplies and look through stuff to find what we need, it quickly becomes frustrating and can overwhelm us to the point that we completely stop creating altogether.

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  13. I am lucky, I have a craft room but I have been crafting for over 20 years now and so have a large collection of stamps and paper. I also design for 3 teams so my problem is not the actual stuff I craft with, although my husband might not agree, it’s the things I make with the stuff I have. What can I do with all the things I make for my design teams? luckily one of them is art journaling so I try to stay with in a journal and another one is part digital but I have a lot of stuff I love but is not really suitable for family gifts and as I don’t work I don’t have a large circle of friends to give them away too? Any ideas??

    One thing that has helped with storage problems is going part digital. Lots of my papers and elements are digital. All you need then is a colour printer and a external hard drive, just to stop clogging up your computer with all your goodies and you never run out of your favourite paper again. I know it is not considered good quality or even proper crafting by some but if you buy good quality with a high dpi kit you will be amazed at the results with a home printer. Remember to buy a coated paper as its not the printer it’s the paper that makes a difference.

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    • I’m with you on the digital! I am in the process right now of transferring my precious, not too actually be cut papers to digital. I will then bundle the real stuff up and send it to a youth organization asking for craft supplies. I love digital. I have a Silhouette Cameo and therefore I can get rid of all stamps, dies, punches, and paper overload. After all, I am 65. I’ve been crafting for 50 years. Some of my stuff has probably dried up and become useless. I become very deeply ashamed of the waste. So when I heard of an inner city church youth group asking for supplies, I figured God was tapping my shoulder! With digital we can have the paper and use it too! Best invention ever for paper crafters!

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  14. Thank goodness I’m not alone with the ‘elephant’ . I have to have lots of stuff to look through for just the right colour etc . Plus lots of treasures. The majority of goodies are contained and labelled which makes for easier access. Just retired after working for 50 years and can now find extra time to enjoy all my paper and embellishments. Thanks for talking about these ‘problems’ very helpful.

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  15. Oh this really strikes a note with me! I’m in the process of sorting my 20 year stash of quilting fabric to have a garage sale, as I haven’t really quilted in 5 years! I’m now into stamping and cards, and am trying to keep supplies to a manageable level, but then I am also starting to teach so need to have extra supplies for that. As craft things are so darn expensive in NZ I am hoping to get some $$ from my fabric, to re invest in inks and cutting dies😁 wish me luck – the sale is on 29th xx

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  16. I love my craft stuff. Just moved to a new house in August and really got a chance to reorganize my stuff. Organization really helps so you know where to look for what you need. In the past I would spend half my project time trying to find my supplies and then I would get frustrated and lose steam. Now I know where my stuff is and it’s easier to craft. I guess some may say I hoard but it brings me joy so that’s what matters to me😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. great topic and comments. As you said, I enjoy looking at all my “stuff” but do feel overwhelmed at times with having too much. However, Stampfest will be held the end of June in Lakeland, FL. I don’t need to tell you where I will be those two days.

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  18. Thank you for your honesty. I have been called a horder but as soon as I give it away I’ve had a need for it. My problem is a need to be better organized. I’m trying🤔I’ve use some of your tips and Jennifer Mcguire’s. I’m always looking for new ideas so I hope we share.

    Thank you for all the videos. I’m a visual person n they made it fun. (I don’t like to reads directions to anything lol)

    Happy Monday and crafting

    Lorie Conner

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  19. My motto is, “I’m not dead yet!” I still have a chance to use it or share it. I have been blessed to have more and more space to spread out and I have taken advantage of that. It’s not very often that I can’t find what I know I have, so I guess I’m doing all right. The only thing that I feel bad about are the supplies that go “bad” before I use them or give them away–like the cheap paints, but even some polymer clay that I thought was dead, I’ve been able to revitalize with enough clay softener and elbow grease. And my studio of colorful supplies is third only to nature and Jesus on my happy scale!

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  20. I just filled 3 totes (last month) with things to purge from my craft room. My family likes to use my room as a dump all for stuff they don’t want in their spaces because it’s a “storage” room. I don’t have enough space to work in there so it stores my supplies. I love that I can now find most of my things as I want them (this all started because I couldn’t find something which I still haven’t found).

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  21. It’s not hoarding if you are using it. I have a major paper stash and a huge pen, marker, colored pencil collection. I’m slowly collecting stamps, inks and paints. I use them all the time. I’ve been organizing and found that like many others here, I am more likely to use things when I know where they are and can get to them easily.

    I love having a variety of art supplies around. It allows me to experiment and to expand my skills. It’s a fabulous hobby that makes me very happy, and hey, it’s cheaper than golf. 😉

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  22. Thank you for sharing. Last year I was thinking at 64 yrs old I should grow up a little. So I purged the closets of clothes and shelves of book. I’m now going thru the file cabinets @ work and home, purging them.
    The garage is getting the same treatment, I’m surprised how many out of date things I’ve found. Its hard to admit I’m never going to build the cat scrachting post, but the cats have plenty of places to play, so I think the 4X4 posts will go to good will. The hardest for me is admitting I’m no longer interested in or need, something I’ve paid for.
    I have been watching the Clutter Fairy on Youtube, a great motivator.
    Of course I also watch The Frugal Crafter, who makes every thing look fun and easy!

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  23. I started selling Stampin’ Up! and in order to sell the product I had to buy the product and that’s when my problem started. I’m no longer selling Stampin’ Up! but I have stamps and paper and everything that goes with it everywhere I’m totally on unorganized and I think it happened when I started selling products. Acter I stopped I still kept buying stamping products and crafting projects until I have them everywhere it is totally out of control and I don’t know what to do to get it in control . I can clean it all up and then two days later it’s a big mess everywhere after I’ve just made a couple of cards any suggestions are appreciated my craft room is full now I’ve even gone into my dining room and kitchen it’s crazy. Enjoy u Lindsay !!

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  24. Hello, my name is Kathy and I am an art supply hoarder!! Sadly, I live in a studio apartment SO it is a nightmare in here!! Between jewelry making and mixed media art, I do feel a bit hopeless!! Luckily, I plan to move sometime in the next year so am hopeful I will have a room dedicated to supplies…or at least NOT a studio apartment!!

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  25. Lindsay I completely hear and understand your comments, and I too fall into a similar category as yourself. I have spent an awful lot, but I am crafting, not as much as I’d like but I do craft, the problem for me is the area to hold everything is about 6′ X10′ and between table and desk plus supplies I usually only have about 1′ X 5′ to walk into and out of this room and about 1″x1″ desk top space.
    I hope to come up and say Hi to you at the Heirloom Show next weekend, really wanted to take a class, but have a 92 year old parent I take care of but I did purchase your Craftsy class and am enjoying that so much. I hope to get the opportunity to visit your shop when I’m in Maine again summer.

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  26. I am a minimalist in my household, but a maximalist in my craft room 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I for one am glad you covered this topic! I posted the below link on your YouTube channel and a few people seemed to like it so I thought I’d share it here in case it can help anyone.

    This is a simple method I came up with in January to force myself out of my comfort zone with crafting and to not just stick to one medium all of the time – it’s called “3 Jar Inspiration” (but you only need 2 if you only work in one medium). It’s nothing fancy and costs nothing to get yourself set up to use it – just a couple of old glass jars or some boxes and a couple of sheets of paper – plus some thought! It could help people to get back into using things they’ve not done for a while and will force anyone to use up their supplies whilst, importantly, being way more creative. You can adapt it so, so easily to suit your own styles e.g. if you prefer to work from reference photos rather than from ideas, for example. If you like it or find it helpful, please comment on the bottom of the page – likewise if you have any suggestions to modify it more, I’ll add them to the post!

    http://www.the-spin-doctor.co.uk/2016/05/three-jar-inspiration.html

    Thanks
    r
    http://www.the-spin-doctor.co.uk

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  28. This is so me. So much stuff I can never use it all.

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  29. Well, I’m definitely a hoarder and it really gets to me at times. I don’t even have a craft “room” or a basement so my hobby would be hidden away. I probably love buying new supplies more than I love making my cards so I’ve totally outgrown my little “crafting space”. My only “excuse” is that I come by it honestly… my mom was a seamstress and had boxes and boxes of fabric on hand as well as a good stash of thread, zippers and all the other notions and supplies needed to run a sewing business that she ran all of her adult life. My dad was not much better… he loved books and collected tons of them as well as tools, etc. You’d think after having to clear out their basement that I would have learned my lesson and would not still be holding on to my own things, but I just can’t stop that habit.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Yes, I feel this. I have so much stuff now, I can’t find what I need when I need it. I am beginning to purge and organize. It is a daunting task, but I hope I feel better when it’s done.

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