Too Many Supplies?


pastelsSo we all know that situation of buying supplies we don’t use and feeling bad about it.

And frankly, I think it happens for a number of reasons–one, of course, is that it’s like the honeymoon period for a project when everything is still lovely and perfect (because we haven’t made it yet). The idea we have in our mind’s eye looks wonderful, and the supplies are the exciting first date–full of romantic possibilities.

And then of course, if we start trying to actually make what we’ve imagined, it stops being like a first date fast and becomes more like a long term relationship–you have to try hard, it’s not exactly how you fantasized at the beginning, and if you want it to work, you have to stick around and pay attention and love it even when it’s snoring on the couch not doing what it said it would–or what you thought it said it would. :-)

But enough with the metaphors! There’s another really important reason that I’m sure you’re not telling yourself. But you should consider it, because really, it’s much nicer, just as true as all the other reasons, and more important.

Honoring Your Creative Self

Lots of times, we don’t even get as far as starting the project. We buy the supplies and they languish in the closet–maybe they don’t even make it out of the bag. We feel bad–chastising ourselves for wasting money. Vowing not to do it again.

And then the supplies themselves get caught up in the complicated emotions–guilt, frustration, disappointment–and strangely, even using them can become loaded—like now it’s about proving something to yourself, or to your husband or partner who has their own thoughts (or ones you’ve imagined for them) that haunt you about all those supplies as well. And if you do use them and start to hate what you make, well, then you quickly start thinking those underused supplies just show what a joke this all was to begin with! More mean thoughts directed at self. Ugh!

So harsh. And unfair.

Because you know, here’s the thing. When you buy supplies, what you’re really doing is honoring that part of yourself that yearns to make things, even if you have trouble finding the time. You’re showing yourself what you need, even if you can’t figure out (yet) how to make it happen. And that’s cool. In fact, that’s very cool.

Consider this: the part of yourself that buys the supplies you haven’t used yet is on your side. In your corner. Maybe it would be good if you didn’t give it such a hard time. It wants you to be happy.

Maybe you could look at these unused supplies with fresh eyes. Not evidence that you’re a flipperty-gibbet. Just evidence that you’re an overextended artistic person who is trying to get back to making things, to being creative. Let’s give her a break.

Or maybe you do make things, but your eyes are bigger than your calendar, and you buy supplies for many more projects than anyone could ever get to in one lifetime.This just means you’re thinking BIG. It means that making things excites you and you have a lot of ideas. It means you’re an interesting person who is excited by life. How is that bad? It’s not.

So all right. You don’t know how quite yet to find the time to be creative. That’s okay. You know you want to, and that’s a start. Go visit your supplies and forgive them. They’re quietly loving you unconditionally from inside the closet anyway.

And if you want, get out your timer (read this post here if you don’t understand what I’m talking about), set it for 20 minutes and just look at what you have. Maybe sort it a little. Remember stuff. Stare and think. Who knows, the supplies might start whispering sweet nothings in your ear and the next thing you know, you’re making a little something.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Other thoughts? Leave a comment–I’d love to hear from you!


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Categories : Art, Supplies


  1. Judy says:

    Sarah: I knew my craft craziness was therapy but now I find out that even _not_ doing stuff is therapeutic! Great!

  2. leslie says:

    This may be the best justification I’ve read for my habit of collecting pretty papers and stamps and embellishments. And I do stare at them and love them, and I know they love me back. It’s THERAPY! Thanks! :-)

  3. [...] for those of you who are feeling bad about owning too many art or craft supplies, you should read my blog post called, unsurprisingly,  “Too Many Supplies?” to find [...]

  4. R.M. Koske says:

    I know this an older post, but I saw the link from yesterday’s post and…


    Thank you so much for this. I’d gotten partway to the conclusions you did. I knew that I bought supplies when I wanted to create but couldn’t for some reason. I knew that my desires to go to the fabric store or the art supply store or the bead store and buy MORE were really a desire to create. I’ve tried to channel that impulse to shop into an impulse to go into my craft space and play. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    But forgiving myself for wanting more? Honoring the impulse even when I do give in? It never occurred to me. That enormous pile of unused supplies is…(oh, I may cry)…love for myself and my creativity that I’ve got piled up, waiting for the future when I can accept it. Wow. Wow.

    Thank you so much.

  5. Mary Ann says:

    This is me to a “T”! I am so busy already and I constantly am seeing wonderful projects that I want to make, so I buy more things and eventually forget why I bought them, or even that I bought them. Now I’m surrounded by cabinets and baskets and shelves full of “had to have” things that definitely create a guilty feeling. My husband tells me that eventually I will have time again. After reading this, I think I’ll just keep shopping because it is more than just an impulse. There is a reason behind it.

  6. Sarah says:

    @rmkoske–Never to late to comment on a post–thank YOU for responding and I’m SO glad this resonated. All of us eager to create have more supplies than we use–Forgiveness-yay! And I was excited to see on Twitter that you were trying the 20 minute timer technique as well–it’s my old friend and really helps me get past my resistance and do what I actually want to do. :-)

    @MaryAnn–I’m glad to hear your husband is backing you up like that instead of teasing you or frowning about it–because he’s right! And when we let go of the guilt, then we don’t have to avoid the supplies as some sort of bad reminder but can start to enjoy what they stand for as well as let ourselves create whenever–even if that’s just a few minutes here and there.

    Loving these honest, thoughtful comments from everyone!

  7. paula lewis says:

    A college professor, long ago, said, “You can’t make cookies if you don’t have dough.” If Miss Muse is peckish, I want to always have something on hand to satisfy her hunger. Lovely post, Sarah.

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