Purging art materials

I have radically consolidated my art and craft materials and it’s taken me weeks! I found eight boxes of fabric which would take me at least ten years to use it up. I found unfinished projects that were twelve years old and finished projects that I was no longer interested in. I found craft materials that I once used but I have now moved on.


I found fabric to make capes for my nieces and nephews which I’d had for eighteen months. In a few years they will be too old for capes so I promptly made two capes for the smallest niblings (yes that is a word) . They were such a hit that I now have to make two more.

I retained two small boxes of the best retro fabric and gave away the rest. For craft materials I only kept what I had used in the past year.

Eight sketch books of life drawings were consolidated into a single “best of” sketchbook. A  large portfolio of drawings was recycled after I photographed them. And I set aside a small set of  collages, drawings, paintings that I really like and want to display in my home. The rest I will get rid of either by selling or giving them away or recycling.

Well that was an effort. I don’t want to have to do that again in a hurry. So I have come up with some rules for myself.

  • Decide on how many unfinished projects you will keep at one time
  • Keep only enough materials that you can realistically use in a year
  • Finish the easy projects today or at very least in the next month.
  • Finish the projects that will no longer be relevant after a certain amount of time eg sew capes for niblings before they grow up.
  • Allocate a certain amount of space for creative materials – for example decide to keep only one shelf of fabrics or one box of paints.
  • Stop being sentimental about old projects –  photograph them and then give them away, sell on etsy or recycle.
  • Hold a creative swap party but only pick up things you will use in the following year!
  • Give excess craft supplies to schools or op shops.
  •  Rice Freeman-Zachery  suggests having a free garage sale. It’s like a swap party but you don’t get anything back!

Have you purged your art materials?

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