Friday, February 4, 2011

Creative clutter

On the suggestion of a dear friend I am reading the book Bird by Bird (some instructions on writing and Life) by Anne Lamott.

This book is filled with all kinds of great quotes.  I'm writing new ones down daily in my journal, but this quote is one I just keep returning to.  This one that makes me feel like everything is just fine in my creative world.

"Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground - you can still discover new treasure under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip.  Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get."

Somehow, this quote makes me feel like the inevitable mess around my sewing machine is perfectly ok.  Cleaning up is an indication I'm all done with a project and ready to start something new.  I like the creative clutter and the piles of fabric around me.  It's like I've created my own world of fiber and joy all in my little corner of the room.  

I consistently struggle with the idea my creative space is supposed to be clean.  When you look at the studios in the magazines, they are always so tidy.  Nothing looks broken or worn out. Everything has a nice home and all the surfaces are clean. All the thread is put away. And the fabric is all folded and color coordinated (This is something I do, but it never lasts).

I find myself wondering when looking at these spaces in the magazines why my space is never clean?  Why is it ALWAYS CLUTTERED?  Well, I think it is because I'm always working on something and if I clean up, then I have nothing to work on or it is time to work on something new.  I would certainly rather be creating than cleaning.

I love moving fabric around in my creative mess and finding a piece of fabric I haven't used yet; or the excitement I still get when I find the scissors I lost a couple of days ago under the many piles around my table.  There's nothing like having to make do with some scissors which aren't your favorite. Then it's almost like their brand new to find them all over again.  What a treat!  (Not that I particularly like losing my scissors, this is just the way I like to think about it - I do TRY to keep up with them - try being the key word there.)

I think when I'm behind my machine, under the piles of unfolded fabric that I keep dropping to the floor (Oh! The Horror and it's where my long haired dog sleeps), I'm going to clean up when I'm done, but I never do. Each pile I create around me has a purpose and there is order to my chaos somehow AND it works for me. When I leave for the day and then come back I can pick up right where I left off.  I know what each pile is for and why it is where it is.  It's all accessible to me - and it makes sense to me even though it's messy and cluttered to everyone else.

I want to see some photos of messy creative spaces.  Who really works in a clean space?  You might start out that way, but I don't know anyone who actually manages to keep their space clean while working on something.  

How about you?  Are you brave enough to show me your mess... I mean creative clutter?

I'm putting on my brave hat and showing you mine - and please take note this is actually not as bad as it usually is.


(And the closet where everything else lives is so terrible, I'm afraid to show you - at least for now.)


  1. Doesn't look bad at all..this is coming from me! I am reading traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott!

  2. I think it looks like very creative space! When you talked about your scissors I realized I bought new ones before Christmas and have no idea where I put them. Right now I'm working on several things and my room piles of fabric everywhere. I do like to straighten it up at the end of the day so I can start fresh the next morning. The interesting thing I have noticed is that I can have my room all cleaned up - take a picture and it still would look messy and cluttered to someone who doesn't quilt. Kind of like my husbands wookworking shop. The Creative Artist is a wonderful book you can get from the library and it has you get up 1/2 hour early every day to journal. I did it for about 2 years and it was fun.

  3. Thanks Connie! I put that book on hold at my local library! Can't wait to get it! I hope you find your scissors!

  4. Clutter? You call that clutter? I could show you some REAL clutter ... except my camera is buried somewhere. Love the quote.