I've been reading a book called Organizing For Your Brain Type by Lanna Nakone. Turns out the 'everything in it's place' motto won't help people like me. I have always been a piles person. Ask my parents. Ask my college roommates. Ask my husband. Things always got stacked on the floor by my bed rather than put away where they belonged. Now things get stacked in the studio before, during, and after a project. Since I rarely have enough time to finish a project in one sitting I leave things out until I return. It makes me feel more attached to my environment when I can see my favorite colors, images, ideas out in the open rather than filed away. I need my surroundings to be visually stimulating, but I'd still rather have them organized.
I finally managed to get some shelving up a few weeks ago to get the mess off of my work table. It had been covered in supplies for months! I've arranged things in groups and made space for supplies I'm using regularly. The larger things like leather hides, batting, stuffing, and a few hanging file folders full of found papers are underneath the table and hidden by my curtains. I also keep papers in a wide, shallow, plastic storage box. I have made a little space to the left of my work table for cutting mats, metal straight edge rulers, and unused canvases to be tucked in. I've also got a paper cutter at the other end since I'm using it a lot these days.
As far as containers go, I've collected almost all of them from flea markets. The nesting wicker baskets and shelving were purchased at Lowe's. I keep baby food jars in the smallest one to contain small supplies like screws, earring posts, rhinestones, bells, hooks, etc. The wicker basket with handles is from my parents' house and holds all of my acrylic paints. Its the perfect height to hide the labels but still shows the colors from the top. The wine crates are from a local flea market and almost made it into our bathroom for shelving.
It always feels easier to make things when my space is picked up and now that I know a spartan organizing system isn't useful for how I'm wired, I don't feel quite as frustrated with my efforts to be a spartan. How do you stay organized?