Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty is an all around crafter who’s got a lot of beads for her jewelry projects and a lot of fabric for her sewing ones. Please, let’s drool together over her library card catalog where she organizes all her jewelry findings. See more photos and read more about Susan Beal’s craft space in our Craft Spaces Q&A.
CRAFT: What kinds of crafts do you do? Susan: I mostly sew, make jewelry, and quilt, but I also love Gocco printing, freezer paper stenciling, decoupage, and gluing things to other things. I’ll try just about anything once! Out of the craft room, I love to cook and bake and make terrariums. CRAFT: Where do you craft? Susan: I sew and work on projects in a little upstairs bedroom of our house that’s turned into my craft room. I have my sewing machine and almost all of my supplies up there. By afternoon, especially in the winter, it’s pretty dark, so for taking photos (or big projects like basting a quilt) I love to hang out in the living room. The light is so much better for pictures or choosing a fabric color. CRAFT: How do you keep all your craft supplies organized? Susan: It’s taken me years to figure it out and it’s definitely still a work in progress! I am always bringing home new treasures, so I have to be pretty ruthless about sorting it all or things get knee-deep. Fabric is the biggest challenge for me. I keep all my jewelry findings (earring wires, jump rings, clasps, and things like that) in a vintage card catalog. I looked for one of these for years and finally found mine on craigslist. I keep my quilting scraps in three cardboard file boxes in an half-size Expedit under the catalog. I color-copied three of my favorite vintage fabrics and decorated the front of the boxes with those. Then I have smaller pieces of fabric folded and stacked in a clear Lucite shelf that sits on top of the catalog. I keep bigger pieces stacked in a hanging bag in the closet and in the other Expedit cubbies. I keep my beads in plastic compartment boxes, organized by color. I made front labels for the boxes last year so I can see at a glance where the pink or black or semiprecious beads are instead of having to grab box after box. Those same cardboard file boxes are perfect for other stuff that’s harder to organize, like dozens of bottles of glue and paint. My zillions of buttons are in plastic boxes and tins stored in two of those, with vintage button salesman’s sample cards on the front of each box. Those are all in a second Expedit shelf across the room. I keep bias tape in big recycled metal cans, and scissors and pinking shears are all in one too. My ribbons, trims, and laces are in big apothecary jars with lids, and colored pencils and Sharpies are in regular-sized Mason jars. I keep those and my thread and craft books on shelves by my sewing table. CRAFT: How do you motivate yourself to keep your space organized? Susan: I have such a hard time while I’m submerged in a project – to be honest, things really pile up when I’m busy. I try my best to clean it all up again afterwards. I don’t have a good daily routine or anything logical! CRAFT: What’s one organization tip/tool/trick you swear by? Susan: Keep a pair of small sharp scissors on a long loop of ribbon, and make sure you’re either wearing it around your neck, or it’s hanging on a nail by your craft table, so you always have good scissors handy. CRAFT: How do you feel when your space is organized? Unorganized? Susan: I love the feeling when things are neat and organized – it feels so fresh and inspiring. But being in the middle of the sewing whirlwind kind of suits me too, though, as long as I can find my essentials. I lost my bias tape maker the other week in the middle of a project and it brought everything to a screeching halt. I was so happy to see it again! CRAFT: Describe your dream workspace. Susan: I would love to have a big, open space with natural light, a big cutting table, a white flannel quilt design wall and about six Expedit shelves! I love my little room but it gets cluttered so quickly. CRAFT: How does the way your craft space is organized affect your crafting/creativity? Susan: I feel so lucky to finally have my own craft room after years of claiming a corner of the living room or dining room and then frantically packing projects up at the last minute so we could eat dinner or sit on the couch! I’m so much more motivated to work knowing I don’t have to pack up my sewing machine or put every last thing away at the end of the day.