Re-useful Cardboard For Portable Crafty Spaces and Photography Tricks!

Many of you have beautiful crafty spaces like the ones featured on CRAFT recently!

I live in a very small house and other than a storage cabinet in the garage, I have no options for a crafty space.  So - my "crafty spaces" must be completely portable!

Cardboard flats to the rescue!

I turn almost every FedEX box that comes through my front door into a storage flat. 

Easy to do!  Simply re-tape the open end closed and cut out one of the large sides!  And presto - a nice, sturdy portable "crafty space".

My small embroidery projects  - and all the tools I need to make them - live in a FedEx flat.

I just have to digress from the subject at hand for a minute! See the little red heart with the circles on top of it?

I just finished it and hung it on my Valentine Tree!  I found the tutorial while poking around on Alice's blog Futuregirl craft blog.  While you are checking out the tutorial for the daisy, be sure to download her free patterns for her uber adorable little octopus and sea creatures. You will find links on the left side bar.

Diane (CraftyPad) inspired the little woven heart in her e-book "Weaving Un-loomed" .  I should have used an embroidery hoop for a more even result but I impressed the heck out of her when she found out I hadn't actually used one!

Joanie, writes a delightful blog from England - Nini Makes.  Her new e-book "Stitch Village Pattern Collection"  and her beauiful embroidery patterns have inspired me to revisit my old flame - embroidery!  So I am embroidering a whole series of hearts in her honor.  The white embroidered heart is just recently completed.

Ok - enough -  back to the subject at hand!

Another FedEx box currently in use for my Easter Bunny project!  Two great bunny fabrics I found at the Goodwill Bins!

They are all ready now to be stitched together and stuffed!

The top of a box that held a case of envelopes is a great portable flat for my so far failing weaving project!  That's all I'm saying about that!

All my felting projects (photo at top of post) live together in a flat that I got on a trip to the garden store last summer.

One thing I really, really like about using these portable flats is that when I am ready to work, everything is right there in sight.  I don't have to pull it all out of a bag or box before I can start to work.


And the other thing I really, really like about using the flats is that they are stackable!  So I can store several projects together here and there in empty corners of my office shelves on on the end of the dining table.  When the project is done, I recycle the flat for another!  I usually have about 6 to 10 of these going at any one time.

More are currently being used for sorting old family photos to place in albums, many, many small rock specimens to be hi-graded and mounted,  tax paperwork, and wintering over all my ceramic and plaster garden mushrooms under the sofa.... You get the picture!  

And they are just fabulous when someone is coming over to visit - just scoop all those magazines and papers stacked on the dining table and desk into a flat, tuck it under the bed and voila - presentable house!  Just don't forget to go back and sort!

And flats are indispensable for transporting pies, or casseroles - especially when hot.  I just line the flat with a bath towel, set the dish in the middle and gently stuff the towel around the dish so it won't move in transport.

Another great use for cardboard in my portable crafty world!  PHOTOGRAPHY!

Obviously, if I don't have room for a crafty space, I don't have much room for a "crafty photography studio"!

But I have a most excellent portable photography studio!

The first element of the studio  -  three large sheets of cardboard  (about 20x24) that have been taped together to create a sturdy base. (I have several because I usually have more than one project going at a time.)

I do almost all my crafting now on this base - like for instance the tin can craft (above) I am working on for another post.

When I am ready to take a photograph, I pick up the cardboard base and take it to my light source for photography and then return to the work place - which for me is usually the dining room table!

Works great too when I am having guests over and don't want to put the project away - I just pick up the whole thing and put it in the garage or under something or on something just so it is out of sight!

The light source?

I discovered quite accidentally that the shop light we have mounted above the kitchen sink to provide light for our ferns and orchids during the winter months is in fact a perfect studio light!  You can see above, my sweetie has mounted it to the soffit using little hooks and some chain.  The fixture actually is about 48" above the counter surface. And our plants love it!

The big secret is in the bulbs!  On advice from a very successful indoor plant "expert" in the family, we installed both a "grow light"(which tends to be on the bluish green side - like daylight) and a warm bulb.  The mixture of the two bulbs seem to encourage the best growth and provides really good color reproduction.  Just like daylight, (especially in shadow or overcast) there is a slight blue cast that can be easily corrected in iPhoto or Picasa, but otherwise, the color is perfect. A daylight balanced light could be used in place of the grow light and is probably less expensive.

Shop lights are available at hardware stores and cost around $6.00 to $8.00.  The 48* long fluorescent tubes are generally in the range of $3.00 to $5.00 each.  And the hanging hardware costs almost nothing.

What appeals to me is that the "studio" can be anywhere there is a flat surface!  Mine happens to be right over my kitchen sink!  With that big cardboard base, I can photograph a tutorial right on top of a sink full on dishes!

 I have suggested to Diane that she hang a shop light over her washing machine!  The natural light that comes into her living room can't be beat for photography.  It produces beautiful photographs.  BUT it is available only occasionally and she is crafting 100% of the time!  So a portable studio is essential. And a laundry room is a great place to hide a shop light which isn't exactly beautiful.  Hummmmm - but with a little Mod Podge....?

The best part of my portable studio!  No pesky cords, no light stands, no knocking a light over and NO set up time.  Move the craft into place, shoot and craft on!


You are full of ideas....can

You are full of ideas....can I keep up?? I don't get too many fedex boxes I'll have to ask around because I think it's agreat idea. Right now still using bags and everything is done in the bottom and not visible.Love all the hearts.......

Very smart storage! Those

Very smart storage! Those Fedex boxes are nice and sturdy too - perfect.
They remind me of the trays I used at our tiny school, I used to take projects from class room to class room in (unused) kitty litter trays that I got cheap from the supermarket.

I love your felted wool stash, very pretty :)

BTW, thanks for the sweet link too.

Pam! I love using box lids

Pam! I love using box lids to carry around projects! right now, I'm painting, so everything stays in my studio, but when I am assembling or collaging or stamping or whatever, all the supplies go into a copy paper lid and I have them all there whenever I want to work in front of the TV or in the kitchen where I do my embossing, or even out to the patio when it's a pleasant day. And I love being able to just put the box lid with the project supplies on the shelf and know they'll be in one place. Excellent post about this.

But You Have Really Done It, Now! Because, I have a light just like that over our kitchen sink, and I am going to get one of those bulbs to replace the flourescent and I'm going to get the big cutting board which I use for under my clay oven, and I'm going to use it for taking pictures. WHAT would a blogger DO without YOU ?!!

BIG smooches!

Pam, I live in a small apt.

Pam, I live in a small apt. and don't have much room either. I also store my supplies in boxes, but have not perfected it to your stackable project boxes. This idea will help me be more organized in my own space. Thanks!

Very cool idea!! I like how

Very cool idea!! I like how you use something from another purpose to store and tote your stuff around.

Lately for different knitting projects I've been using those zippered cases you sometimes get from cosmetic counters as a bonus when you buy a product. They are just right for putting together the necessary small tools like stich markers, safety pins, darning needles and scissors together with the project so it can all go into the tote bag to take along to knit night.

I aso use small ziploc baggies to keep wound ball of yarn tidy as I'm working on the project. You never know when the table surface might be a bit sticky or is a bit rough or has a splinter coming loose. The plastc ziploc boggie keeps the yarn clean and keeps from snagging on table edges or on things in your purse (like keys, etc.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thanks Bonny for adding so

Thanks Bonny for adding so many great ideas here!  Great idea for reuse of cosmetic bags and another great use for all those cosmetic bag tutorials on the blog scene right now!

And great tip for keeping yarn balls in baggies.  I know you are using very lovely special yarns for all your incredible knitted pieces and keeping the yarn clean and free from snags would be very important.

I need to see a photo of your

I need to see a photo of your portable studio set up! I love the idea of reusing the Fedex boxes for storage flats.

Heather, there is really

Heather, there is really nothing more to see.  My studio is my kitchen counter with a shop light suspended over it.  Period!  Just like the photo in the post!.

The portable part is the 20"x24" of cardboard I craft on top of that can be carried from the table I am working on to the kitchen back to the table.

One other cool thing about it is that if my back gets too tired from sitting and crafting, I can stick a couple bread boards under the cardboard and raise the crafting surface high enough to work standing! And sometimes, if i have a lot of little steps to photograph, I actually do them right at the kitchen counter.  Then I can just reposition the camera and take a shot and get ready for the nest step.