How do you organize? Silver Tree Art’s Studio


Suzanne from Silver Tree Art shares some of her organizational solutions and challenges in her studio for How Do You Organize?. I just love all her little collections and whatnots!

If you want to share your organization solutions, problems, before & afters or anything relating to organization, send me an email. I’d love to take a look.!


1. How would you describe your studio’s organization? Is it more “everything has its place” or “a little clutter breeds creativity”?

Most everything needs to have its place, I work well with pockets of clutter during the creative process. Current projects end up on my desk or work table in an contained state of chaos until they are complete. As I create, I enjoy keeping the items that inspire me & are possible resources in front of me. Sometimes, I sit before stacks or bundles of fabric and use the bounty of color to inspire the color stories that come to be. Other times, I can envision something and do my best to bring that vision to life looking for particular colors or textures.

I like to keep items organized in the way they are ordered in my mind. When I place my items in a particular space, I remember what I have and how much I have of a particular item. When I walk into the studio for the morning, I want to be able to use my time wisely. Thus, knowing where to find things. All the thoughts & notes in my sketch book can come alive when I sit to create because I generally know where to go to find what I’m looking for. That’s not always been the case, so there’s a new rhythm to my creative time that I’m really enjoying.


2. It looks like a lot of your storage & organizational containers are vintage finds? I bet that’s fun finding stuff. What’s been a favorite find?

There’s a particular vintage tin that I love. The canister itself is cute & not so cute all at the same time. I love the rust along its curves. It’s the magic that can be held within that I love: This canister holds treasures: vintage buttons, found objects, washers, some childhood treasures. When I first saw Amelie, a movie I adore, I immediately connected to the tin she opened with its treasures of a young boy. This found tin is something of my equivalent. While I remember finding most objects, I vaguely remember this as an estate sale find. There were a few random objects inside of the tin when I purchased it, and I just continued adding to it.

The most meaningful finds are the shelves on the green wall. These are boards from my friends’ farm. The old milking parlor isn’t in use, so they share the wood from the walls with others. I spent an afternoon with friends pulling these, cleaning these, and then spreading oil over them revealing such a beautiful natural color. I never tire of these shelves and think so much of the hands that gave them to me and helped me to get them clean & on the wall.


3. It also looks like you are a collector. What kinds of stuff do you collect?

Art made by some really awesome folks, Vintage buttons, glass jars, wooden spools (especially with fragments of thread), vintage papers & ephemera (especially items that belonged to my ancestors), quilts, crochet & tatting lace, knitting needles, and old books of a particular style. My favorite collection contains clothing & quilting remnants, flour sacks, and vintage linens. A part of this collection belonged to three generations of women in my family.


4. Share a storage or organizational problem that you solved.

The studio has its design challenges with the height of the walls & roof line. As I organize, I want it to be beautiful and to maintain open space for good, creative breathing room. This space was tricky with its duel functions as my studio & a space for guests to stay, with room for a queen air mattress.

As a part of the re:Frame [] process, a productivity system for creative people, each of the co-creators, Jodi Carter of Breathing Space Organizing & Heather Jassy of Empty Space Coaching gave me encouragement & sound advice regarding this space. Jodi, a professional organizer, recommended clear containers for the fabric, which I’ve added to match my smaller clear containers I’ve enjoyed for some time. Clear containers allow you to see what you have as well as keep dust off. Along with the vintage jars & clear boxes, I’ve added large glass cookie jars for my fabric brooch & hairpin wears, which make the items look good & stay clean. Heather gave me advice to take a “zen” approach to organizing. Rather than my tendency to want to work with the space all at once, she suggested that I focus on the space sections at a time. While I was at first unnerved in living in a state of total disarray, it became a good system for me to use, and I’m still using the “zen” approach to organizing. As I focus on one section in my studio, I find I return to something previous to improve the storage possibilities.


5. What’s still a problem child for you in terms of your organizational set-up?

The problem child happens to be keeping some items out of four-year-old hands, unless I’m prepared for the possible consequences. There’s a line between what is my art & what looks like toys, since some items were childhood collections. (like those plastic clip charms that would fit on big plastic necklaces.) I like to have items in a bowl or glass jar. His hands often end up in the bowls, which is fine, but a collection of vintage charms ended up in a lovely little hole in the floor just a few nights ago. When I realized what was gone, I was very disappointed, but I invite him into the space with me. I don’t want to give up what stimulates my energy & thoughts by having everything under glass or lids. And I want to continue to nurture his creativity. A new issue with the lovely floors that will need to have a solution like playing with said items using trays. I’m always learning that my needs change and that I can come up with creative solutions.


6. What’s your very favorite part of your studio?

The light. When I was young I dreamed of having a space of my own to create: a space that was filled with white and yellow, light and hardwood floors, a chair by the window… As I pulled up carpet during the winter white to reveal these pine floors beneath, I realized how wonderful the light became in the space. I look forward to painting the walls & ceiling a fresh coat of eggshell white with some wonderful name. I want the contrasts of white & light and color to grab the eye and speak to the soul. My studio is a Suzanne-sized space, filled with light and life. I am thankful to have this space these days. It’s an evolving space that will be different in 6 months. Even at night the lamps provide a good glow to the space, from the strand of lights in one set of shelves to the three lamps in various spots. The light will always shine on this space.