If you are generally serious about your crafting habits, then I would guess that most of your family and friends know about your interests. But as soon as people know that you’re a crafter, they might start ‘gifting’ you with their unwanted craft supplies. It’s an occupational hazard unfortunately.
These gifts are always well-meaning and good-intentioned, but the truth is that someone’s basement or attic just got cleaned out and you are now the proud owner of a cross stitch kit from the 70’s of a bale of hay. (If that’s your thing, awesome. Fill your boots.) Perhaps a kind relative thought you needed 573 clear plastic buttons and a 5 foot length of zipper? Have you ever been in possession of a neighbour’s 50 year old wedding dress? I have. I know the struggle.
Often these items have some sentimental value attached to them and it’s really hard to either refuse them or get rid of them. Craft supplies from deceased distant and not so distant relatives can end up in your hands. Then what?
Make sure that the people in your life are well aware of the types of crafting you do and what supplies you most often use. Prepare a little elevator speech to answer common questions like “What do you do?”, “What kind of crafts do you make?” etc. It may not stop your dear Aunt from giving you a box of paints when you are a knitter, but it might do. If people are aware of your style of craft they may think twice before dropping off boxes of unusable supplies at your door.
Create a little script you can use when you want to refuse someone’s offer. Being caught unprepared is the biggest reason why I end up with stuff I don’t want. Stick with something simple like: “That’s so kind of you to think of me but I don’t typically work with xyz and I don’t think I’d be able to find a good use for them.”
Being vague is code for ‘give me all the things, I haven’t quite filled up the space behind the furnace yet.’
Once you are officially stuck with the supplies, (despite your best efforts) pare them down right away. Be honest about the items you will definitely never use and find a way to get rid of them or pass them along. Otherwise you will end up storing a tin of shoelaces until your kids are grown and you have to will it to them.
We are creatives after all! It’s very true that necessity is the mother of invention. Our most creative moments can come from experimenting with a new medium. See if you can make something old, new again. Can you paint it, mend it, chop it up, turn it into a hat? Create a canvas with all those buttons and label it ‘untitled’. It’ll be a conversation piece!
Someone saw that cross stitch kit and they thought of you. That’s kind! Be genuinely appreciative. And prepare a little script for when they ask you what you did with the kit! Again, don’t be caught unprepared!
What’s your strategy for dealing with an excess of unexpected craft supplies?