Make A Thing: Spring Cleaning and Organizing Part II

Welcome to yet another crafty installment of Make A Thingwhere the ladiez are doin’ it for themselves. Also, we make handmade gifts for people. Or ourselves. Or our cats. Who doesn’t need something special in their life? Join in on the DIY fun and avoid the unnecessary consumerism of the world (and I promise you’ll save a few dollars while you’re at it).

Header by Rory Midhani

Spring cleaning and organizing ’round the Hansen household has been slow moving. Last week we talked about organizing all of your crafts. But maybe when you were organizing, you realized you have the same problem I do.

I just realized I’m a craft hoarder. Like a level five craft hoarder. I have ribbon I bought from a fabric sale in Phoenix, Arizona when I was 17. I have fabric from a quilt I made my ex-girlfriend when I was 19. I have like 78 pairs of scissors, you guys. For some weird reason, I just keep thinking to myself that someday, soooomeday I’m going to need those 18 yards of orange satin ribbon. I’m thinking these antics have something to do with being raised by a hippie who taught me to never be wasteful. This has completely fucked with my pack rat personality. Thanks, Mom.

I had to make the choice. I had to get rid of some of this shit, give it away or figure out how to make it into something else less… satin orange.

Getting Rid Of The Clutter

I need to print this out and hang it somewhere I can see it while cleaning.

I need to print this out and hang it somewhere I can see it while cleaning.

Sometimes you need to get rid of things. Not even your great-grandchildren will actually care about that certificate you got for participation in your 8th grade spelling bee. Get rid of it or mod podge onto a photo box. If it isn’t truly sentimental, you can part with it.

Donate or sell that shit. There is no excuse.

Repurpose it. Make the boring things you’re hoarding into awesome things you actually want to have around. Do you have 3597 broken crayons? Melt them down into candles or big crayons for your nephew. Tiny fabric scraps make great stuffing or patches for torn clothes or linens. Rip up the millions of pieces of paper you’ve got and make fancy new paper. Slap a new coat of paint on whatever you’ve got and I’m 99% sure it will be as good as new.

Give it to your friends. Have a brunch with friends where you all bring your vintage button or silk thread collections so you can trade and get new stuff you’ll actually use. More on this in a moment.

Recycle or dispose of it. Is it broken beyond any hint of repair? It’s okay, you can recycle it or throw it away. You will most likely never think about it ever again. I know it’s sad, but put on your grown-up pants. You don’t honestly need dried out markers or four paintbrushes with dried neon green paint crusted in the bristles. Deep breath in, deep breath out.

But what about the weird stuff you don’t want to use that is okay but you can’t donate? Things like craft paint, Lisa Frank stickers or scrapbook paper. Throw a crafting party. No, seriously, do this. Invite your friends over to your house and make them bring paper, paint, cat decals or whatever they’d like, and have a crafting night. Make cards to send to that cute girl or your Autostraddle penpal. Make a zine. Make each other fun art to hang on the fridge. Just make things. That’s the point of having this shit in the first place, isn’t it?

There are a few specific items in your craft space that can pose problems for disposal.

Do you need all of these? Unless you paint houses or 12' canvases every day, answer is probs no.

Do you need all of these? Unless you paint houses or 12′ canvases every day, answer is probs no.

Paint: Paint is a tough mistress. If it hasn’t frozen or been subject to extreme heat, household paint, such as latex, can last up to 15 years. Oil-based paint can last up to ten years. Sometimes you’ll find craft paint that has been hanging out in the bottom of a tub for an embarrassing amount of time and it’s a little touch and go whether or not it will still be usable. Figuring out if your paint is still good is a little like a choose your own adventure book. Follow along, kids. Is your paint separated? If yes, stir or shake it. If it doesn’t go back together, it’s not usable. If there are lumps, it’s not usable. If it smells rancid (you will know if you stick your nose in there but do so with caution), it’s not usable. A lot of times just stirring the paint will make it go back together and be good for a long time to come. Acrylic craft paint is generally pretty resilient. Simply don’t like the color? Try mixing it with other colors or using it as a primer for other colors.

Disposing of unwanted or old paint can be a little tricky. If it’s usable, you can usually donate it or pawn it off on friends. If it’s not, you have to dispose of it properly so it doesn’t hurt our dear environment. Even though craft paint generally comes in small amounts, at least try to take it to your Local Household waste Collection Day. Depending on the type of paint, to dispose of it you may have to solidify it first. I know, this all seems confusing, but DIY Life has a good guide for how to dispose of your paints.

Appliances: Does that behemoth sewing machine still work? Craigslist or Goodwill it. If it’s broken, take it to the landfill or recycling center to make sure it’s being disposed of properly. If it has batteries, make sure you take them out and dispose of them separately. Alkaline batteries are okay to throw away, but rechargable, lithium, lithium ion and zinc air batteries must be recycled because of certain chemicals in them.

Furniture: Has your scrapbooking table collapsed? Did you realize you might not need four filing cabinets after all? Just like appliances, if your furniture is a-okay, donate or Craigslist it. But then again, why do that when you could repurpose it? I almost never get rid of furniture because it can always be turned into something else with a strong arm and my step-father’s power tools. Get creative. I know you’ve seen a million furniture makeovers. Maybe that chair just needs a fresh coat of paint to make it awesome again.

Broken bulky items can be taken to landfills, recycled, or repaired. Please take note: Only commit to a furniture repair or repurpose or makeover if you’re going to do it within the next month. Otherwise, that shit is going to sit there and stare at you day in and day out until you feel so bad about your lack of motivation. Besides, hoarding things we don’t need is what got us into this mess.

Remember, the point is that we don’t want to waste what’s useful. What’s the actual definition of useful? Something that we or others will use. Not can use. Not maybe someday I’ll get around to it use.

What other good decluttering tips have I forgotten?

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


  1. If anyone has Lisa Frank stickers just lying around, feel free to send them my way.
    I’m also obsessed with that yellow cabinet. Fabulous job putting a bird on it.

    • DollarTree in Northern MI has a large assortment of Lisa Frank stickers and now I’m hoarding subcategories within my montage of craft hoarding!

  2. Also, if a crafternoon is not in your future don’t assume you can’t donate craft paint/papers/stickers/fabric etc. Some cities have programs to recycle these things to other makers. Here in DC we have Scrap DC (, which is awesomesauce, but check out your local area to see if you can donate before you toss!

    This post is an excellent reminder to curb my hoarding tendencies. We’re about to move, so now is a great time to declutter, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Also on the same note, donate to TEACHERS and schools. I’m a senior in high school and in my time of school I’ve seen a lot of bad budget cuts. Teachers almost ALWAYS in my experience have had to buy their own craft stuff, and they just CAN NOT afford it. SO PLEASE DONATE TO TEACHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I wish I could attend one of your crafternoons, Hansen. Miss you (and Zeller) tons and tons and tons.

  4. I’m like this, but with school supplies. I have totes crammed with a bazillion pages of lined paper, extra binders, half-used pens and pencils, etc. For the day when I write a novel longhand, I guess. :)

    So. Organization. It’s on. *rolls up sleeves and gets to it*

  5. Ditto on what Jay said! Somewhere nearby is a school that wants all of your extra crafting stuff (and school supplies, too, Claire!). Budget cuts in education are hitting both the arts and the extracurricular stuff pretty hard, and there are bazillions of student-run clubs, mentoring programs, and after school daycare-type stuff that would LOVE to let kids of all ages get at your orange satin ribbon and kickass puffy stickers.

    Just Facebook-stalk one of your teacher friends and ask. :)

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