Don’t be Afraid to Use Your Stuff!

There are many times, as a creative being, we know that we are technically proficient, but when it comes to the content of our artistic expression we freeze. Anyone who has ever picked up a paintbrush or a piece of fabric or a mixed-media notebook with the intent of creating something wonderful knows that they often times find themselves with an unused piece of fabric and a paint brush that only collects dust in it’s bristles and a mixed-media sketchbook that looks impressive as long as it stays closed.

Oddly enough, there are many of us out there whose pristine stash is more important than making the art they dream of.  Collecting product is safer than producing art.  Stacks of unused supplies, like an art or fabric store, is somehow more pleasing than the thought of cutting into any of it and finding the results less than perfect.  Cutting into a piece of fabric ruins it.  The first stroke on a canvas defiles it.  Blotting a stamp into ink dirties it.  Drawing in a sketchbook damages it.   It all becomes self-defeating behavior, with any pleasure that you might derive from using the tools you own being put on hold.

Part of the problem with creative types is that we feel that whatever we produce has to be wonderful. Guess what? It doesn’t! We hold ourselves to a standard that no one else holds us to.

So, cut into your fabric.  Paint in your notebooks.  Cut strips for your hooked rugs.  Fold your paper into kirigami shapes.  Release any of the resistance you have about digging into your stash and actually begin using it, all of it (for good or bad – remember there are no judgments, just process), and embrace your creativity.

Let go of your vision of perfection and fall into the rapture of your creative growth and development.  Let the time fly by and swim in the delight that is your unique expression of your art.  Using your stash, and not backing down because you don’t know where to go with it or what to do with it, will allow you to discover the talents and gifts you didn’t know you had, and will gently guide you down the road to becoming the artist you have always wanted to become.

Pickle Road Studio, LLC

   I hope you enjoy my creative thoughts for hobbyists and crafters.  I post new blog thought entries every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Wednesday’s are reserved for Creative Mojo with Mark Lipinski’s guests and new creative personalities that you’ll want to know and learn about.  Of course, I sprinkle things happening on Pickle Road throughout the week.  

I invite you to subscribe to this blog by clicking  the button on the left side of this post.  Also, why not share my posts with your creative friends and co-workers by clicking on any of  the share links?  If something really resonates with you, print it out and tack it to your bulletin board or tape it to the wall of your creative space, sewing or craft room as a gentle reminder that you can re-read!

As always, I love to hear about your creative life, wins and challenges!  Leave a comment here or email me at  Create and laugh through this week.  And , as always, always do what you love! xoxom


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22 Comments on “Don’t be Afraid to Use Your Stuff!”

  1. July 25, 2011 at 6:07 AM #

    thank you-sometimes we just need permission!


  2. July 25, 2011 at 6:09 AM #

    One of your best “kick in the butt” posts ever!!


  3. July 25, 2011 at 6:13 AM #

    Well said and thank you. I try to do just as you say, but sometimes we need a little reminder to “Just Do It”


  4. Karen Traweek
    July 25, 2011 at 6:22 AM #

    Oh man, did I ever need to “hear” this…. and I have several friends who do too! I am going to print it and post it in about a million places in my sewing room, carry it in my purse, etc., etc., etc. Thanks!! Karen in VA Beach, VA


  5. July 25, 2011 at 6:47 AM #

    I just want to thank you for the creativity pep-talks, they are SO deeply relevant to me and helpful…you often touch my soul! And to think that I, on my daily hurry, simply deleted so many of these posts from my in box without reading them! I am now going back and excavating those wise treasures from my e-mails “trash”. This is just a long overdue thank you. Just wishing my little ones gave me more time to act on all the great advice and inspiration!


    • July 25, 2011 at 6:54 AM #

      All of my past posts are still here on the blog, just scroll backwards, JamieEgg! Please let your other creative friends know that they can visit here, too, and subscribe for a quick hit of ‘Blogspiration.’ Thank you for reading! xoxom


  6. Fran
    July 25, 2011 at 7:40 AM #

    Good post and true, and now if I can just cure myself of the “I don’t want to waste it” feelings, I can use more of my stash!!


  7. Nikki McDonald
    July 25, 2011 at 7:49 AM #

    I was at a class the other day, and it was explained to me that is not my stash, but my RESOURCE CENTER.


  8. July 25, 2011 at 8:07 AM #

    ………(sigh) ………you’ve been to my house haven’t you …… but it’s all so pretty to look at ……. this falls into the same category as only hauling out the “good dishes” for Christmas …..also brings up my “delusions of grandeur !” ……in my dreams I’m a whiz at so many quilty/arty things ….. when I’m awake, I think not so much ! (maybe a little too much adult ADD? ) …. OK, now that we have permission to cut into that gorgeous fabric , how about some tips on staying FOCUSED !!! ( and FYI duck taping me into a chair didn’t work…..(sigh)……..I’m gonna drive myself CRAZY !!!!!:)


  9. July 25, 2011 at 8:14 AM #

    Mark … I just want to know how you were so quiet when you were in my house, seeing my pristine stash, viewing my piles and piles and piles and piles of neatly folded (all the same size, no matter the yardage) stacks of fabric. I didn’t even hear you open the totes to see even more of my seasonal, christmas, batik, 30’s and specialized collections. And then when you sat next to my bed … ooo la la! And how you were able to get inside my brain without even messing up my hair.
    Mark you are a god, not The God, but a god … you give amazing insight, you help us in so many ways …
    Off to CUT CUT CUT into my stash … think I’ll start with a scrappy quilt, next week maybe I’ll use my red and whites that have been sitting for 4 or 5 years.
    Thanks for permission to make something ugly (I’ve done it a time or two) or something unusual, or something amazing and beautiful.
    Hugs sweet pea!


  10. Teresa P
    July 25, 2011 at 9:07 AM #

    I’ve been going through my stash lately, trying to downsize in preparation for a move. Some of the fabric is “What was I thinking?”, some is off to the charity quilt pile and some are treasures waiting to be used. Thanks for reminding me to use those treasures!


  11. Cheryl Rupp
    July 25, 2011 at 9:09 AM #

    This is so true. I have totes of fabric where I just can’t use it. It’s so pretty, but you are right..we need to use it. (We can’t take it with us!) Why else did I buy it?? Thank you for the encouragement that it is very okay to cut and use this gorgeous fabric!! I shall…..after I clean off my list of projects to finish. Which I hope isn’t longer than two weeks!!! Cheryl


  12. July 25, 2011 at 9:11 AM #

    I don’t buy fabric to collection. I buy fabric to use. Sometimes I don’t use it, because it becomes the perfect fabric and I know I only have so much of it. I blame this on the fabric manufacturers for not putting out of print designs on Spoonflower so I can get more if I need it. 😉

    In reality, your point is well taken. I am pretty good about cutting into my fabric. I whisper the “there is always more fabric” mantra to myself. I recently opened the orange bin and was so excited to see a whole bunch of different oranges that I used orange in a few projects right away. I guess the fabric had been marinating long enough to not be precious in any way anymore.


  13. July 25, 2011 at 9:39 AM #

    Great post, Mark. Love the point about collecting being safer than producing and letting go of the vision of perfection. Worth posting above the stash!


  14. Julie
    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 AM #

    So now after reading your blog, I discover you are a mind reader? My stash terrifies me! That fabric I cut and mess up might be enough to make something else wonderful. Is there a 12-step program for this?


  15. July 25, 2011 at 10:09 AM #

    My cut into my stash goes in kind of cycles – they can lay there on the shelf for the longest of time (at times I pull them out only to caress them and whisper prrreeeeesssshiooous). But then, while auditioning for a project, they suddenly become the right ones and is used.

    Ok, I admit – it does hurt a bit to insert the rotary cutter into them, specially when you come to the last 2dm or so and realise that there isn’t any more to get. Or – you have no clue where you got it and the selvage don’t tell where the fabrics come from. But it is like certain other pains – a good kind of hurt ROFLMAO.

    But I must say that I never let preserving my fabric stash get in the way of my creative flow ;-P


  16. July 25, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

    Hi Mark,
    It is like you are talking to me personally. I just used 2 fat qtr packs of fabric from 2002 in my newest pattern. I am so pleased with the results but it wasn’t easy to cut the first piece. I have so much fabric and I can’t tell you how many times I have given away bags of the old stuff LOL. We recently moved and I asked 5 friends to help set up my fabric room. I over heard one say that I needed an intervention. A sister actually said I hope I never find another piece of green in these boxes..there’s no room for it. We did have fun setting up this room and I do understand their comments but an intervention….never! Thanks for another good blog read.


  17. Maggie Magee
    July 25, 2011 at 11:37 AM #

    Applauding you, dear Mark!


  18. cindy
    July 26, 2011 at 7:29 AM #

    You hit the nail on the head with this one. It was like you were reading my mind. I want to be free of this …………. bad habit. I loved your post today! Thanks so much! I think I can work on this issue. I am leaving tomorrow for Long Beach quilt show. I will remember what I bought at Houston and haven’t used yet…..sound familiar?


  19. July 26, 2011 at 10:25 AM #

    EXACTLY! I remember thinking how sick I was not wanting to cut into my square yard of cross-stitch fabric (the most beautiful Edinburgh linen), because then….
    (wait for it)
    …I wouldn’t have a square yard of Edinburgh linen.
    How crazy is that? So, I finally cut into it and did several wonderful pieces, then cleaned out my fabric bin and got rid of a bunch of aida I knew I’d never, ever use (sent to a co. that sells on eBay) and gave my quilting fabric I’d collected over the past 12+ years to a co-worker who in turn gave me a quilt and four purses. My fabric now fits into two drawers and I have more than enough to last years, because I have to finish all the other UFOs and kitted projects.
    Thanks for reaffirming what we need to hear periodically, brother. Keep the good words coming!


  20. Kimber Prevost
    July 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

    Thank you, I have been trying to declutter and really all it is is sorting into the bins. So yarn is together in oh over 8 bins, rug hooking (well most of that is in the house…. shhhh hubby doesn’t really see that pile!) and wood pieces for painting, I am still sorting those ones, I am definately over 8 bins. Now don’t you dare look at the bookshelves. Some day they might get sorted into the “proper” order. But to grab a pile and to just drool, ok ok, I hear you, if I don’t think I am going to use a pattern out of that knit, crochet or painting book, I will pass it on to someone just like me. OK? Kim P (Ottawa, ON, Canada)


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