CLEANING THE ATTIC #12: Love Your Inner Pack Rat

Last week, I was at a point in clearing out my studio I thought I’d never be again.

I simply could not decide what to do with certain stuff.

I know I’m not going to make a name for myself with altered art or paper collage. I know I’m never going to make pillows for my living room ever again. I could ditch all those funky old books that are such incredible candidates for altering, the old dictionaries and paper ephemera I’ve accumulated for paper collage, and the lovely home decorating fabrics I’ve collected.

But it’s hard. Really, really hard! Why??

The purging process slowed down to not-moving-at-all again, and I was frantic. Fortunately, we were social butterflies this weekend. We had so many social engagements, I didn’t have time to do more than think about cleaning the studio.

And that’s when I got my next three insights:

Vacations are important.

Those “not-part-of-my-vision” pursuits are still enjoyable. They’re totally fun, with not much riding on the outcome–a sort of artistic vacation from my major work.

Like a vacation, they don’t take up a lot of my time. I really only indulge once or twice a year.

And also like a vacation, they they get me thinking outside the box. Some of my best ideas have come from playing with new processes.

When I’m stuck on a more “arty” project, these little sidetracks often get my creative process jump-started again. Many times, coming up with a totally unrelated project for a craft book editor solves a technical problem I’m having with fiber, or jewelry.

I’d hate to kick this to the curb when it’s still working for me.

So….stay or go?

I can decide not to decide.

Neither.

That’s when I realized that it’s easier to make decisions about stuff in the attic, or stuff that’s been out of sight, out of mind for awhile. It’s harder when you’ve looked at it every day and just can’t see it anymore. (Or worse, can’t see what you’re supposed to be looking at…)

In this case, I will use the attic for what it’s supposed to do: Storage for items I want to keep but don’t use every day.

The next stage is simply boxing up most of these treasures, and putting them in an accessible storage spot upstairs.

Next spring, when my open studios are over, my book proposal is in and the weather warms again, I’ll be able to look at the stuff with a sterner eye than I can today.

I can accept my inner pack rat.

I will always be a pack rat. It’s part of who I am, and how I create art.

But I don’t have to be a passive bystander to pack rat-itis.

I can understand this part of my nature. Even embrace it. But also one I will monitor more closely from now on.

I think this is working for me.

I’ve been out junk shopping since I came to this conclusion. I’m finding it easy to resist buying the stuff I normally buy: funky books, old sewing patterns, etc. I’ve seen what I have on hand already, and now I know–I have enough of these things. (At one booth, I actually said out loud, “Luann, step away from the button jar….”

I don’t feel sad about passing over them. I’m leaving them for someone else to find and enjoy.

Until, that is, I find something so totally awesome, I just have to have it! I did buy a beautiful piece of vintage willow green velvet fabric for a new wall hanging. And a green sap bucket for a wastebasket. I’m still a pack rat by nature, after all.

The cycle will start again. And that’s okay.

Because now I know this is a cycle. It’s part of my artistic process. One that I will recognize, respect and accommodate. I just need to make sure I purge my work spaces and storage areas more regularly.

And find more friends with pick-up trucks.

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4 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, business, choices, cleaning the studio, life, recycling, recycling tip, time management

4 responses to “CLEANING THE ATTIC #12: Love Your Inner Pack Rat

  1. The cycle will start again. And that’s okay.

    Because now I know this is a cycle. It’s part of my artistic process. One that I will recognize, respect and accommodate.

    I. Love. This. And I will print this whole post out and put it in my “things I know but sometimes forget” box, and when I get to that point in mucking out my studio, which I do a couple of times a year, I will read it and smile. Thank you.

  2. I have enjoyed every post of “Cleaning the Attic” and I too found myself this weekend picking up an old jar of buttons, holding it tight in my hand for a few moments and then saying to self, Put it down, you do not need anymore buttons at this time! So I left with only an old picture dictionary and was just as happy. No I didn’t really need the dictionary either, but I was a happy camper as I walked out the door! Debbie

  3. “I admit that I have no power over pack-ratting.” (or something to that effect.)

    I’m not in a 12-step program for anything, but could certainly consider it for my addiction to hoarding stuff. No, you don’t have to walk paths through stacked magazines and newspapers at my house as I’ve seen in some places, but I’ve chuckled while reading all of these excellent posts. They are really helping. We started a big clean-out recently. And I was able to think “How many of my mother’s kitchen utensils do I have to save to remember how good her food was?” Out went the pre-teflon frying pan where all of that fried chicken was cooked. Logic and good sense prevailed. I hope I can keep it that way.

    Anyone want a stack of really thick college Art History Books?

  4. Beth and Debbie, it’s a relief to know I’m not the only one! :^D I’m glad sharing my experience helped you think through your own packrat-itis.

    Sorry Mike, I just gave my stack of art history books away last week! (Er…do your have good pictures?)

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