Some Thoughts on Konmari-ing From a Crafty, Sentimental Nut – Work in Progress Wednesday No. 26

I have Konmari’d almost my entire house. (Konmari, for those not yet in the know, is the technique described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for decluttering/tidying. There’s more to it, but the premise of the book is to discard anything that does not “spark joy”. It’s fantastic.) I picked the absolute worst time to do this: I read the book and began the process right before leaving town for two weeks, and it’s been summer time! and hot! and so many other things to do! ever since. I am in the perilous and nebulous part 10 of komono: Other. Which means in my case: it’s time to tidy the studio. Oh dear.
Time to Konmari my fabric stash...and whole studio

I know this is a bit of a departure from what I usually write about (CHICKENPANTS!), but since this is supposed to be a space where I’m documenting my creative process and what not, I feel like it makes sense. What is more of a current work in progress than this? This is the thing that has been taking up a lot of my time and creative energy. As I’ve been picking up each item in the house, I feel like the bits of my mind have been shuffling around, too. It’s telling that this has turned into a creatively dormant period. (Konmari+travel+stale projects=creative dormant period. I keep telling myself that it’s okay and normal, while also panicking about not being a creative production machine.)

I am, quite frankly, a sentimental nut who attaches meaning to ridiculous things, and I take a certain delight in using things up. This can lead to a very cluttered space, as sentiment creeps into everything and some things are really not actually worth using up.

I had some trouble with the phrase “Does this spark joy?”. It makes a lot of sense when you’re dealing with, say, fabric. It makes less sense when you’re handling dishwasher soap. I read around the internet a lot, and finally stumbled upon a Reddit interview with Marie Kondo where she rephrased it “Does having this thing make my life happier?” For some reason that was easier for me to wrap my mind around. Does having the dishwasher soap make my life happier? Absolutely. I love having clean dishes. Does it directly make me ecstatic? No, of course not.

Up until this point, I feel like I haven’t really discarded all that much. However, our trash and recycling cans have been overflowing ever since, and I’ve taken a full van load to the thrift store already. The house seems to be running better, and it is actually a delight to open up my dresser drawers and to be able to see things! and find them!
A load of decluttered things
A wonderful side effect is that this has changed the way I buy things. I’m looking at everything a little differently, being much more selective, and definitely bringing in less stuff.

Tidying my clothes went wonderfully, and amazingly, I have been able to keep them organized ever since. There is a lot of information in the book about that process, and specific tips for how to organize what is left. The rest of the book has progressively less and less information about how to put away what is left, which makes sense, but my particular weird little mind would actually like more structure. Something I could hold my results up to to see if I’m doing it “right”. I’m always worried that I’m not doing it right, not putting things away in the “right” way, and that maybe it won’t stick.
However, the lovely thing about this method is the individuality it allows. It’s not a question of “have you used this in the last year?” or of being a minimalist. Does this make your life happier? If not, why do you have it?

The point I’m trying to make is that I think even if you Konmari a little imperfectly (taking a while longer to complete this, with many lengthy breaks in between, and maybe not always putting things back on their spines…) it will probably still work. I say probably because I only just finished my kitchen today, and who knows if such a busy space will stay tidy?

Next time (assuming this burst of creative energy lasts and I pull it together), I’ll have more to tell you about the process of decluttering a studio, Konmari style.

About Claire

Absolutely Small is textile artist Claire Chambers. Claire Chambers is a crazy-pants artist/crafter who spends most of her time indoors, very near to Portland, Oregon. She likes making people laugh, chickens and pugs, and writing about herself in the third person. She is utterly obsessed with making things out of fabric.

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