You fingers practically twitch with creative energy.
You long to use your hands to create something tangible, to pick up a set of pliers and weave a bracelet from those shiny new jump rings or to string those gorgeous aqua glass beads that have been sitting in a little plastic bag since you purchased them.
(So long ago, at this point, that the memory of that day is like a fading dream.)
But with no dedicated space to work — and perhaps a small child or two running freely around your home, threatening at any moment to come in like a tiny tornado and wreak havoc on your latest DIY project — they end up collecting dust in a drawer.
Living in a 1200-square foot condo that I share with my young daughter, husband, and a cat, I get it.
I’m fortunate that now I have a dedicated studio/office space (with just a baby gate separating my precious 100 square feet from our living room). But until 2014, my workspace consisted of a tiny desk in the corner of my bedroom that I couldn’t use during my prime work hours since my husband was sleeping.
When I wasn’t working there (which was most of the time) I was working on my kitchen table.
While I had ample space to spread out, it wasn’t ideal for what kitchen tables are typically used for.
Every day it was a battle of the jewelry supplies versus food, each encroaching on each other’s territory. Jump rings spilled out to the half designated for eating (not to mention, the floor, our coffee table in the living room, the hallway, and in between couch cushions). At least once a week my husband threatened to throw my jewelry supplies away if I didn’t pick them up.
My beautiful creations were at constant risk of being sullied by liquids and crumbs.
Clearly, this wasn’t working very well. I needed something that was compact yet functional, as well as portable since from day to day I never knew where I would be working.
I finally buckled down and came up with a system for less than $30, one that works for any space, whether you have a dedicated craft room or are relegated to a corner of your living room.
Tools to Create a Portable and Compact Jewelry DIY Work Station
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A folding tray
A folding tray provides the perfect portable workspace. It gives you a flat surface on which to work, it is lightweight so you can easily move it around, and it stores flat which is essential if you live in a smaller home.
I use a simple plastic and metal one I purchased at IKEA years ago, but any folding bed tray will do the trick.
You can also check out your local thrift store to see if they have any on hand. I recommend you choose one with a raised edge to help prevent supplies from rolling off.
A sheet of craft felt
Simply lay a piece of craft felt onto your tray and it will further contain your jump rings, beads, and other materials that are prone to roll around. (It won’t completely prevent beads from rolling, but it will help.) Most craft supply stores sell them for less than $1.00 per sheet.
A storage container
Now that you have your portable station set up, it’s time to organize all of your supplies and materials. I’m personally a huge fan of the Sterlite Layer Stack & Carry Box. It is compact, has trays with compartments, and can lay them all out flat. Plus you can add additional trays if you find you need more storage.
I purchased one a few years ago and found it was perfect for toting around my pliers and supplies to shows, and takes up very little space on my workbench. You can purchase additional dividers, which is perfect for organizing beads. If you are storing supplies that may tarnish, I recommend storing them in little plastic resealable bags.
What are your tips for getting crafty when you have limited space?