Why You Should Keep Your Creative Tools Handy

If you’re an artist of any kind, you’re more likely to practice your art if your tools are easy to access.
Last fall, my mother-in-law came to live with us. We gave up our master bedroom, moved into what had been my office in the basement, and I moved my office into a much smaller room. I no longer had space for my sewing supplies, which we put in Rubbermaid tubs and stored in the outside shed.
Needless to say, I did absolutely no sewing while my mother-in-law was with us, and not even after she left in February. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I unpacked and set up my fabrics, sewing machines, and tools. Now I have a large table that holds my sewing machines, my cutting mat, and whatever fabric I’m working with. I have a fold-out ironing board in the corner that I can set up when I need it. And in the closet next to my table is a shelf of small Rubbermaid tubs, with my fabric arranged in them by colour.
Yesterday I walked into my sewing area and all I had to do was poke around in the fabric cupboard to select a range of patterns and colours. I laid them out on the table and ended up putting three pieces back. All of a sudden I had in my mind exactly what I wanted to create: an image of a winter night at Spectacle Lake, a hike not far from us. I was inspired by some pottery buttons I’d found at our local secondhand store, which are square and textured with parallel lines, and painted the colour of a glass green pond.

Winter night at Spectacle Lake.

Pottery buttons from the local secondhand store.

I had the fabric selected, cut, and laid out in just over an hour. Then I took a break because I could feel my concentration waning. Today I sewed all the pieces together – another hour at the machine, though I spent some of that troubleshooting the stitching. Next up is sewing the fabric together with the batting and backing, then adding my pottery buttons like stones in a pond and doing any hand-stitching I feel like adding.
It is a joy and a pleasure to be able to sit down and work on a hobby without having to dig out the sewing machine, poke through boxes of fabric, and try to find buttons. Plus sewing is such a peaceful activity that really quietens my mind.
I do the same with writing. My notebook and pen reside next to my chair in the living room, so I can pick it up at any time and start writing. This month I’m doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, or in my case NaMeWriMo: National Memoir Writing Month) and have a separate, labelled notebook for it. It sits on my writing desk in my office, in front of my SAD light, so I can flick the light on for 30 mins in the morning while writing.
If you’re a painter, a sketcher, a “typewriter assemblage sculptor” (this guy does cool stuff), a photographer, or whatever, it always helps to have your tools easily accessible and ready to use. Say you want to go on a photo fieldtrip but the camera battery is dead and you can’t find your tripod mount and the cover is missing from one of your lenses. You’re more likely to scrap the trip than you would if the batteries were all charged and the tripod mount and lens cover were where they should be.
So get your tools ready. You never know when you’ll have the urge – and even just a small bit of time – to do some art.

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12 thoughts on “Why You Should Keep Your Creative Tools Handy”

  1. Yes, a resounding yes…and if you’re a stay-at-home parent, make a portable kit and choose projects that can travel to parks, play dates, swim lessons, etc. etc. etc – worth it for the sanity alone!
    PS: you’re a fibre artist too πŸ™‚

  2. This is so true! I work with metal, paint and other found objects, if they are hidden from view, nothing strikes me! Also, I keep my sketchbooks handy with my black ink pens to draw for inspiration. They must be near or my mind and body wanders around aimlessly!

  3. So true. Because all my yarn is packed away, I end up buying yarn for projects when I start something instead of figuring out what to do with the yarn I already have. I need to organise it in a visible way!


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