Sandy Erdman: You need a creative, organized space

January 28, 2019
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Carol Loshek’s painted Hoosier cabinet that also matches her large red-and-white checked curtains in her craft area.

January is the time of the year to organize, and if you have a creative hobby or what I now call a job, then you need creative, organized space.

But what if you don’t have enough room for one? Well, this weekend I’m going to tell you how I and others have squeezed a craft studio into small limited spaces and are using vintage and antique pieces.

For as long as I can remember, sewing and creating have been part of what makes me who I am, and I have always had a space somewhere to do my work, even a closet. Growing up I had access to my mom’s creative space in our house. No matter where I lived, from my first apartment to a home with my husband, I always managed to find a little cupboard and the kitchen table to do my sewing and even my creative writing. Then I got lucky and we added onto our home and I now have an actual creative working studio/sewing room, though I do at times use the whole house.

In my area, I have a library table as my layout table, a couple of vintage dressers for storage and my TV that are family hand-me-downs. White wicker chair, that was a find at a garage sale, and shelving for storing bolts of fabric. A vintage coat tree found at Saver’s, a Rochester thrift store, to hang aprons on when done. And a nice find with Sarah Kieffer, Sarah’s Uniques and Jim’s “Man”tiques, St. Charles, a vintage wicker cupboard that I painted. So for me it is like my “She Room” and work space.

Now, some gals have a “She Shed” or a basement area or whatever works for them. If your business is knitting, maybe just a comfortable chair, TV, a cute bag, yarn and you are good to go. But of course storage for the yarn is important, so an antique dresser may just work for you.

Friends’ creative spaces

Carol Loshek, part-owner, The Cottage Cupboard, Seasonal Shop, Winona: “I have one room for sewing and painting, another room in the basement for pouring candles. But when I have a Cottage Cupboard sale coming up, every room in the house is fair game. My Hoosier cabinet is used to store paperwork, tags, mailing supplies, etc. I bought it when I was in high school from a neighbor for $5.”

Joan Thilges, owner, New Generations of Harmony, where, yes, you can find many items to use in your sewing or crafting area: “When we planned our new home, I made sure I would have a space dedicated to my BJD doll costuming business. We are avid antique collectors, so I incorporated some of my favorite pieces for storage. We purchased the antique multi-drawer piece that is perfect for storing thread and other supplies at an auction in Fairmont years ago. A golden oak office chair and library stand that holds my multitude of trims and laces on cards were also auction finds. I love being surrounded by my tiny doll collection and part of my button collection while I work.”

Mary F. Nelson, owner of Mary’s Custom Quilting, Winona: “I have a six-drawer ‘Coats’ thread cabinet in my workspace, perfect for storing all my rulers, templates and other tools I use in my long arm quilting business. I also have a Red Wing No. 8 crock that is perfect for storing fabric and interfacing that I roll on tubes and I also have taken a large (2-foot) oval antique decorative frame and retrofitted it with a cork board/white board and use it to keep track of clients and my calendar for my business.”

Britta McColl, owner/bread maker, Castlerock Sourdough, Fountain, City, Wis.: “You might say that my whole kitchen and more is my work and craft space to making unique breads!”

More suggested ideas

• There are vintage and antique six drawer “J.P. Coats” thread (spool) cabinets online to find and purchase, as they are not found at antique malls too often and in a price range starting at $300 up to $1,050.

• I like to recycle large glass jars, Mason or Ball jars or just plain-mayo jars to hold small supplies.

• Why buy new crates for storage when old will do? Some crates are so unique and are conversation pieces, too.

• Farmhouse storage decor for storing your supplies — I would say use an antique pie cupboard or Hoosier cupboard that can hold quilts and more.

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