When visitors arrive to my studio, they often comment on how much stuff I have. What is all this stuff and where did it come from? My brother, who is also an artist, often stops in to my studio to borrow materials and tools. He calls these trips “visiting Michael’s.” I do have a lot of stuff. I have acquired it over many years and many different phases and projects.
I am first and foremost a fibers artist, so I have bags and bags of fabric, roving, and yarn. I went through a period of making and selling beaded jewelry, so my bead collection is extensive. I love collage and making sculptures with found objects, so I have tubs of 3D materials and words and images from magazines and books. I also have all the “usual” stuff-paints and brushes and pencils and pastels. There are lots of rolls of wrapping paper, contact paper and a giant roll of En-Tout-Cas watercolor paper. My tool box is overflowing and I also have 2 sewing machines, a drill, a couple of saws, and a Dremel. I found a great tool bag at the hardware store that I keep all of my markers, colored pencils, scissors and traveling watercolor sets in. I call it my “Have Art, Will Travel” bag. In short, I am prepared for nearly anything.
I started art school 20 years ago, so I have had some time to gather materials. I don’t often buy art materials anymore. Once people know your interests, the donations start pouring in! My advice is to keep your eyes open for potential art materials. Building a well-rounded studio stash is not something you have to spend a lot of money on. Start a collection of interesting papers by setting aside a box where you stick every scrap you come across. Cut up some of those old magazines you have stacked up in the recycling bin-any magazine will do. Look on the clearance shelves at every store you go to for unusual and inexpensive 3D items. Save small boxes and metal tins. Look through http:/craigslist.org in your area in the “free” section. Often people are cleaning out their own stashes and you can get some great free stuff.
The next post will be on how to organize all this stuff you are going to gather! For now, happy harvesting of art materials and happy holidays!