Pots and tins to put things in

Getting your storage right can bring untold joy.

That process of reorganising and rearranging brings up a very big part of the craft retail sector – storage. What might seem like boring small Tupperware to some is like the key to nirvana for others. And sometimes, reorganising your stash is an inspiring diversion.

One of the main reasons I design my own beadwork is because I’m atrocious at following patterns. The latent rebel in me finds it very hard being told what to do and perhaps the lack of concentration, beading whilst checking Facebook and catching up on the latest Ru Paul, might also add to this lack of ability.

So I make up my own thing that organically evolves as it comes into being. This is sometimes hugely rewarding. There’s nothing more exhilarating than being able to turn a picture in your head into something physical that you can hold in your hand. All with some tiny beads and some thread.

However, it can also be the most frustrating thing on the planet. When the picture in my head isn’t right, or when that picture just won’t translate. Argh! Creative angst. I reckon it’s the reason a lot people shy away from making art. “I’m not arty” could also stand for “I can’t deal with the crushing feelings of inadequacy and disappointment when the ideas aren’t flowing into creations”.

So what do I do when the angst hits? I, like many other crafters, rearrange my stash. Whether its yarn or fabric or beads, the methodical process of reorganising the beautiful colourful things is a calming, almost meditative process.

One of the reasons I have continued running Mrs Magooty as a pop up bead shop (long after it was clear it would only just about breakeven) is because scooping tiny sparkly glass marvels into little tubes has always been a mindful therapeutic practice. It links closely to the whole concept of playing shops I talk about in the previous blog post “That’s an interesting name”. It also interests me as an entrepreneurial exercise, but it is valid as an act on its own too.

Aileen (above) is a Beadwildered stalwart who has come every year to the annual beadwork retreat at Gartmore House. At a point where the ideas weren’t flowing or the pattern wasn’t working, Aileen invested in some of our Dot Boxes and spent a couple of hours reorganising her crystals and other beads. Time well spent in my book and it was rewarding to be able to supply the storage for that endeavour.

In fact, it’s a pleasure selling the Dot Boxes to all customers, supporting crafters to find those moments of peace and possible inspiration, and also providing a quality product that isn’t going to fling open and scatter your treasure everywhere. Sometimes it’s about being able to have all your stash of a certain type in one place which you can easily see so inspiration can flow. Clear storage, like the Dot range help achieve just that.

I’m also a fan of using pots and tins that I’ve had for years. Whilst it means that whatever is inside is hidden from view until you open it, it’s the memories and stories wound up in each receptical that enriches my relationship to making.

When I was ten I bought a tin exactly like this one:

I borrowed this image from the Etsy shop The Odd Old Tried n True because although this lovely tin is still in my possession it was purposefully hiding when I came to share this blog with you.

However, it gives me the opportunity to promote this lovely online shop which I stumbled across and sells many lovely tins which make my heart sing!

Anyway, about the mouse tin. It is incredibly twee, but when I look at it I can see Stockard’s Gallery in Wells-Next-The-Sea where we went on holiday once upon a time. That gallery had THE best things to buy and for me it was the most delicious retail experience I think I’ve ever had. I wish I could still feel the massive excitement of walking into a treasure trove of a shop like this, clutching a precious tenner and spending hours deciding what to buy. Now I walk into shops trying not to spend money and muttering about it being cheaper online. Sigh.

Back to being ten though and I still have memories of all the things I coveted in that little shop in the seaside town: the furry stickers I loved so dearly; the small bath shaped soap dish (which clearly every ten year old would not be complete without); the pencil with the sheep on the top and many other delights. But it’s the tin which has stood the test of time, not broken nor been taken to the charity shop, mainly because it’s remained functional as well as something that gives me joy (even though its currently hiding).

The tin stayed because of the story. Like many things in my life, but in order not to become a crazy old lady whose house is held up by clutter, sometimes I just need to be a bit ruthless and this extends to the stash as well.

A while ago, I spent a bonkers yet rewarding 24 hours sorting my wardrobes and cupboards using the KonMari decluttering method. As part of that, the rule is “if you don’t love it, get rid of it”. I cheated somewhat and added in a bit: “if I don’t love it, or if it doesn’t have a specific use, get rid”. A full car boot load still went off to the charity shop the next day, but I got to keep my ugly yet functional DIY/decorating trousers and those socks which aren’t beautiful in any way but are just the thing to wear with wellies.

Same goes for my craft storage. I don’t necessarily adore the many, many Really Useful boxes I own, but they are brilliant for capacity, sturdiness and for their reliable catches. The Dot Boxes aren’t as gorgeous as the things they might contain either, but that’s part of the joy: keeping your stash in neat order, especially colour co-ordinated, adds a sense of calm to an otherwise unruly range of craft supplies. And imposing order over chaos pretty much covers all craft activity: for example, quilting is just cutting up material and sewing it back together again in a more beautiful arrangement.

Talking of order, the most thoroughly organised beadworker I know is the lovely Sheena Stevenson. Her Dot Box stash is a thing to behold, complete with tiny dymo tape labels (an example above). Up in Orkney, where Sheena now lives and runs a beadwork group, they have become some of the most dedicated Dot Box fans. Here’s some pictures of them having filled their recent large package which, through dedication and patience on all sides, we eventually worked out how to get this precious cargo to Westray. Thanks for your custom ladies. I hope one day to hand deliver some boxes and come see your beautiful island.

If you’d like to explore the world of Dot Box you can find some of the range here. We’re the UK distributor on behalf of Cottage Mills so do get in touch to discuss further if you’re interested in ordering in bulk too.

And the next time you feel you’re all out of creativity or just at a

loose end and start putting things in boxes, pots and tins, do remember you are in the best company. #potsandtins

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