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Monday, April 06, 2009


Well, yes, I know. You followed me through the building of the Little Green Shed, and admired its size (20' by 10'). How many of you prophesied that that Would Not Be Enough? How right you were...sigh. Today, the overspill is unveiled, a large box which you can sit on, filled with things that I don't use very often, like the sculpture materials. All with the express aim of giving me a bit of room to breathe in the Little Green Shed.

It's ironic, really. In the upcoming book, 'Finding Your Creative Focus', I write about how it is possible to have too much 'stuff', as in this excerpt, below:

" Why amass so many materials? In part, I think it's a worry that if you don't buy it when you see it, you may never see it again. In some instances, of course, that is true; cloth manufacturers change their ranges on a regular basis, for example. If you need a particular amount of That Cloth for a particular project, it is essential to buy enough of it for your needs. Most of the time, though, you can be pretty sure that you will be able to find a version of what you believe you need, more or less when you need it, in shops and online stores. There is no shortage of supplies in the general market. And then, there is the magpie effect; buying whatever it is because it is pretty/shiny/attractive/unusual/new. And sometimes, art supplies are a form of consolation; you buy because you feel bad, and think that buying some art supplies will cheer you up. And the clolection of materials grows, and you become more confused about what to do with it all.

In addition, we forget that we can, in fact, make art with very little. Some wonderful art has been made using everyday things like pieces of newspaper and glue (also known as papier mache). I make totem dolls with twigs and scraps of fabric, use vegetables and leaves to print with...the list is endless. So it is at least questionable whether you really need the huge stash of materials that you believe you need. In many ways, it is easier to be creative with a minimal stash. Fewer materials limit some of your options, and force you to be more creative in using them."

So, why have I got so much stuff? I asked myself that, in a loud voice! And then I remembered The List. The List is a selection of all the different bespoke workshops I offer in the LGS. It looks like this:

Altered Art
Artists Trading Cards
Basic Batik
Basic Book Binding
Basic Decorative Hand Stitch
Basic Block Printing
Basic Screen Printing
Collage with papers
Collage with textiles
Colouring Papers
Colouring Cloth
Dyeing using Acid Dyes
Dyeing using Procion Dyes
Dyeing using Transfer Dyes
Felt Making
Finding Inspiration
Introduction to Shibori Techniques
Matchbox Shrines
Mixed Media
Machine Stitching For Line
Machine Stitching For Texture
Paper Making
Printing With Natural Materials
Rust Dyeing
Silk Paper Making

And that isn't all of them! Which is the reason why I have so many materials...or at least, that's my excuse! I do, after all, provide most of the materials for the workshops in the LGS, so I need a wider range of things than those that I currently need at the moment. I have, however, been following my own advice, and going through what I have, taking out the duplicates, getting rid of things that are dried up, broken or out of date, swapping, selling or gifting the excess. I might even sell my Print Gocco...or maybe that's a step too far.

If you are interested in the book, and would like to join the mailing list, please email me; ditto with the workshops. There is more information about the workshops on the artmixteremporium blog; just search on workshops, or coaching.


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

I have found that when I go on buying sprees (and truly, I try to keep them under some control!) it is to mask something else. I am depressed/unhappy/mad, etc etc.
Surrounding oneself with supplies is, I guess, for artists, like comfort food. It's all there, it's fun to look at, it's interesting and new, it diverts the attention.......and a lot of times it is just money out the window.
I've often considered trying to make myself take cash and flush it down the toilet---because that is, in essence, what I do! I can mentally equate it with that, but cannot do the first, yet am quite good at bringing home art supply crap.
Endless cycle, eh? ;)

Chauncey said...

Marion, I totally agree. I think having too much stuff and as a result too much clutter can mess with the creative process. Great post.

Leslie said...

Sigh, welcome to my world. Now, I don't do nearly as much in the creative way as you do, but I find that I am being buried under supplies for the various things that I do. Great post and thanks for sharing.

Nicola said...

Now all I have to do is offer more courses so I too have an excuse for all my art materials, lol
Nic x

Judy Nolan said...

I really enjoyed reading this excerpt from your book, Marion. Hope you will post more "teasers" in the future! About that shopping...sometimes the efforts of that shopping get buried afterward (for years). Finding them again is like opening a Christmas gift!

sandra wyman said...

Playing with new things is a great way to avoid making art or doing anything difficult! And I'm sure that buying more and different stuff becomes a way of NOT building up skills. Also a form of creative self-aggrandisment? But then again, learning to print and draw does not mean I spend less, unfortunately ...

TextileTraveler said...

I practice all those things in your list, with the exception of about 3 of them. Not only am I overrun with supplies, but I keep telling myself I have to FOCUS if I'm going to get really good at one or two of them. When it's time to give some up, though, I can't make myself do it! Major dilemma.