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Inside the ABS


Inside the Studio :: Erin Prais-Hintz, Tesori Trovati

week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio,
creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our
readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a
prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you
think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible

Congratulations to Terri on winning a $20 gift certificate
to Heather’s swoondimples  Etsy shop.
Email Miss Heather to claim your prize!


Today we visit with Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati.

 “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” 

I might not be the ideal candidate for Hoarders but my studio seems to be teetering right on the brink! I am about to get real in here. I wish my studio looked like this….

NOT my studio….but this one would be ideal! Light, bright and filled with tons of storage
~ Photo from paper crafter Richard Garay

But in reality my studio looks a lot more like this…. (raise your hand if you are with me!)

My workspace in early 2015….see that little bit of space to work? Right above the tray of watercolor crayons and in front of the blue pencil? About 6 square inches! And all those useless things on the wall…Oy! All the magnetic tins were EMPTY!
They have been moved and all my storage seems to be going vertical! (See below for a transformation)

When we moved to this house in late 2009, I started with a blank slate of a room. I knew it was the house for us when I was standing there stumped as to what we would do with this, and my husband said that he thought it would make a great studio. Right! It seemed quite a bit larger than what I had known, and I figured that I would have plenty of space. Yet I quickly filled it to the hilt.

Around that time, my office was downsizing and I got some really nice office furniture for the price of free. I also found my prized printers’ cabinet on eBay for a steal. And I purchased a series of awesome little rolling drawer carts. But yet I still have a problem with tripping over all that I have amassed. I am ashamed to admit that there are no less than 7 drawers that are mostly completely empty in those rolling drawers! So I clearly have a problem with putting things in their place.

My prized Hamilton printers cabinet.
Can you believe that at one time I thought that this would house all the beads I might ever need?!
This holds a lot of beads by color (that I really should use or purge!) as well as the majority of my art bead collection… I have drawers for certain types of beads, like lampwork, and even parts of drawers that are devoted to just a handful of artists that I love.

My sister has the OCD bug. Her house is immaculate and looks like Pottery Barn threw up in it. I did not inherit this gene for neakfreakery. But this spring, completely fed up with myself, I really wanted to refocus on coming to terms with and making this space not only functional, but beautiful, and a place that I couldn’t wait to create in and even invite people into! The past two years have been fraught with a lot of personal drama, so I truly need this space in my life to be free to experiment and create and find my voice. A retreat. A sanctuary. This clutter and the uncertainty of my daily life has left me with no urge to create, and even less to be in this space. And that is just not right.

The Plan

So I created a little floor plan diagram as a visual reminder and made lists upon lists of what needs to be done. I re-read Heather’s great post from earlier this summer on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Your Bead Room and found this great article on Craftsy about ways to make your jewelry design space work. I searched a lot of magazines and websites that show studios of creatives to get ideas. I started taking stock of the things that I had, including those things that could be repurposed from another part of the house. But I was still confounded by issues…

Repurposed TV cabinet…before…
crammed full of stuff
…and after…installed a shelf
from The Container store and organized the boxes… now I need labels…

One issue comes in the form of Time. I am not a full-time artist. At best I am able to work in here a few nights a week and a few hours on the weekend.  In addition to the organizing that needs to happen, it is also a working studio, in that I have orders that have to be filled and Simple Truths Sampler Club members that are counting on me (if you are one of them, I am working on it!). There is just no space, not even 12 square inches, to do that! Add to that the usual busy-ness of my summer life complete with baseball or softball every single night and weekend (not an exaggeration) from June-the first week in August. We only recently finished up those seasons and are already back in school as of this week. Tonight, as I write this, might be the rare occasion where I am actually sitting still.

I bought this wall shelf from Hobby Lobby. There is a nice top for storage of displays, metal baskets to hold fibers by type and color, and a rod that I hang carded beads by color from shower curtain hooks in easy reach.

Another issue is that I am easily distracted. (Ooh, look! Shiny!) Tiptoeing through my studio (and you must walk gingerly for fear of cave-ins!) it is easy to unearth layers of treasures, like a sort of beady archeological tour.

“Here we have the pile of ‘muffin tin’ projects put together in 2010 wedged between a destash haul from 2014 and the original half-used containers of resin from the Susan Lenart Kazmer class at Bead & Button in 2008!”

The view from the hallway…that clutter is on its way up and out!

To do the sort of overhaul that I have in mind, might indeed need an
intervention! And once I actually paid a professional organizer to come
in and help me. Even she was a bit overwhelmed and suggested that we
start with my ribbon addiction. (Bah!) I have a friend that is very OCD and
loves to organize and she actually offered to come and help me but we
have not been able to set a date. Again, I fear she will run screaming
from the house and told her as much. Those that have maid service  might understand my predicament (I never have, but I have heard…). I want to tidy the studio up a bit before I have my friend come over and really whip me into shape! 😛

Under the corner L-shaped desk are several of these cherry rolling drawer cabinets Home Decorators. Each one rolls out for additional work space, and the plastic jewelry trays with the flocked compartment inserts fit perfectly inside (2 to a drawer) for handy storage of often used items like jump rings, head pins, clasps and ear wires. Over the door towel bars put my favorite tools within reach. And I still have space for one more… which I might be buying soon! I love them!
Metals station has WHEELS!

Still, I am trying. At the beginning of the summer I made a pledge that I would have my studio cleaned out and put back together by the end of August. Well, guess what my calendar says this weekend is?! I started out good by pulling things out into the hallway and making piles for keep, use, donate and trash. Of course, in all the rearranging, it means shifting storage to other areas which leads to arranging other rooms, notably the adjacent furnace room which has lead to even bigger piles for purging and a clear need to tackle those rooms as well. So clearly, my clutter is not confined to this one room! And then my life starts to feel like one big roundabout story….

If you give a girl a hammer… she might need to buy 7 more. And then she will need to find a really nifty rotating lazy susan for storing them… And if you give her a rotating tool caddy she will want wheels on her table…


{Have I mentioned that my husband is a saint for putting up with all of this?}


Before… the black hole bookshelves…

…after… repurposed a cubby bookshelf from another room. It takes up the same amount of space and feels lighter somehow…

I did check a few things off my list…

  • I moved the filing cabinet over next to the computer (which meant that I had to get inventive to make the table just a little bit higher to accommodate it by making my own polymer clay bun feet to raise the table 2″!)… 
  • I had my husband put rolling casters on the large butcher block table that I use in the center of my room for metal work (hammering, jigging, stamping, dapping, torching – on a proper fireproof base!)… 
  • I swapped out the two tall dark shelves that had become a black hole catchall with one cubby shelf that now houses 1/2 of my book collection (for more on where the rest of those are going, read on), the printer and boxes hiding my shipping materials. 

So I can attest, there has been progress!

All of these shelves and storage containers used to be spread out,
but I found a way to go vertical to keep all the clay stuff together and
repurposed the old printer cart to hold art supplies.
This is the same space as my first messy desk shot, but now much more functional.

Today, Friday, as it is my only day off, will hopefully be spent really getting down to the dirty work of making my studio functioning (remember that self-imposed deadline?). I have grand ideas that the floor will be free from bags and boxes and bins… which means that things will need to FIND THEIR PLACE (and then I will need to give my label-maker a workout!)… I want to file all the paperwork that has piled up in a makeshift basket… I must get all the things that are to be trashed or donated out of my sight line… I need to hang some art. For then I might be able to BREATHE and feel ENERGIZED to tackle making new things and taking my art in a NEW DIRECTION.

Rotating bin storage from Harbor Freight for inks, embossing powders, resins and assorted. Going vertical saves space! And I have another one that is not yet put together as soon as I can figure out what will be on it.

So if you are reading this, I have hopefully unplugged from technology, cranked the tunes, focused on the task at hand and will have something to show for it… as of Tuesday. 😉

One of my favorite storage hacks is to hit up the kitchen accessory aisle. This ornate paper towel holder from Hobby Lobby hangs on my wall and uses fancy copper colored shower hooks to house a lot of my footage chain pieces by type of metal/color. Easy to see and grab when I need it, plus it is pretty. I actually need another one of these for spools of chain, and I am working on getting rid of the cellphone cord clutter by using metal sponge holders for your sink on my wall with a brand new outlets that have USB ports. I love me some funky organizers!
 “There are, it seems, two muses:
the Muse of Inspiration,
who gives us
inarticulate visions and desires,
and the Muse of Realization,
returns again and again to say, “It is yet more difficult than you
This is the muse of form.
It may be then that form serves us
best when it works as an obstruction,
to baffle us and deflect our
intended course. 
 It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work;
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

-Wendell Berry

My mind has indeed been baffled by this task, but I want my studio to allow me to sing! So maybe that is the real work that I have to do…for when I do that I will be ready to embark on my true journey, the one that my soul will be ready and open to undertake.
I have shown you just the tip of the iceberg, but also along the way a
few of my favorite storage and organization techniques. And I am always
looking for more help and ideas. So…..What are your favorite storage ideas and tips? or What would your ideal studio space look like?
Give me your answer in the comments for a chance to win! Feel free to add links to your favorite products for organizing or even your favorite studio space images.

See that stack of books? (Click on it to make it larger!) That came from The Great Purge (but don’t worry, there are like 50 more that stayed on my shelf!)

My prize for you is up to 3 of these titles – your choice! – that I will ship to you in continental United States (if you are from outside of the US and happen to win, I will make a deal with you to split the shipping cost 50/50, okay?). There is something for everyone here! Most retailed for anywhere from $15-25 a copy and I am ready for them to find new homes. (And those that are not chosen should be up for sale dirt cheap in the near future!)

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