Don’t Laugh – Martha Stewart Has Her Uses!

I was flipping through Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts (don’t laugh) and, while she is the woman we often love to hate, alas, there is no way to deny her brilliance and empire-building skills.  The key, I think, is to take those ideas that inspire one and create way cooler and hipper variants.  There is also much to be said for her organizing talents, for which she is an unattainable model, but in the service of which she no doubt has countless minions to do her bidding.

On another note (that will become clear in a moment), I have a new approach to household problem solving.  For example, we recently realized our single necklace hook was overburdened with the number of necklaces and all the chains were constantly getting tangled whenever we tried to remove just one.  We went out and bought a set of three bird head hooks which work better.  But, under the new approach, we would instead say: “how can we make something that will serve the purpose and will be unique rather than mass-produced?  It’s a matter of taking what is already a general philosophy of ours (valuing craft and the handmade over the ubiquitous) and applying it to almost everything, aside from tools, appliances, and such (obviously we don’t have the skills to make ourselves a new couch – yet).  In other words, reclaim the creativity that is your birthright!

I was equally enthralled with another library book: The Salvage Studio, in which three ladies living around Seattle re-purpose all kinds of “junk.”  Using an old refrigerator coil for a wall display was one of my favorites.  They have trained themselves to view every item with an eye to what other purposes it could serve.

Now, if we were to actually retrieve every odd thing and potentially useful object we found or salvaged – where would we store it all?  Here is the central dilemma.  How to reconcile Martha Stewart’s aesthetic of tidy organized spaces (which I do somewhat envy) with that of real-world clutter (the world in which many of us actually dwell)?  Compare Stewart’s carefully composed environments with some of the shots of interior spaces in another idea-generating book: Interior Alchemy by Rebecca Purcell.  In this book it becomes clear that every object deserves a resurrection.  These are likely also carefully composed scenes, but completely different aesthetically.  Shelves full of arcane and amazing things, all with signs of distress that are traces of a lived history.  I love many of the objects in Purcell’s book, but couldn’t imagine having to dust those artful arrangements.  Although, the author Quentin Crisp noted that if you stop dusting, the layer of dust will never get to be more than 1″ thick!  I have yet to test that theory.

If you have any suggestions short of renting a storage unit (which I am morally opposed to doing), please send them.

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More Resources

If I had them freely available, I could spend hours every day finding new and interesting links.  However, I must compartmentalize my time and isolate my interests, find manageable chunks to organize and optimize my daily activities.  But I have added a few links, mainly related to the acquisition of supplies for art production and bookmaking.