Shelved Projects and Completing Them


Beautiful yellow silk for a camisole, green bakelite beads needing to be restrung, corduroy to make into pants, numerous hats that took a wrong turn and need to be redesigned, bins of colourful fabric that I have marked as potential. The list goes on and on. Patiently these little dreams wait for me to pluck them from the shelf and sculpt them into their intended form. I’ve done a great job of collecting materials. The studio is full of pretty things to play with.

My hands are never still, but with commitments that always take priority, and a consistent stream of new inspirations to distract me, it’s no wonder that many ideas just get shelved, only to be forgotten. Yet they don’t disappear. They take up space, cluttering up my visual field and acting as reminders of inspiration that has yet to be fulfilled.

I live in a small apartment with my husband, and I’m proud to say that we’ve carved out enough space for each of us to have our own creative stations. Due to our tight quarters, it’s crucial for me to keep things efficient and tidy. The biggest challenge to this is ‘projects that I will one day get to.’

When I have new inspiration, my mind lights up, it’s exciting. I want to chase that idea, buy the material and start something fresh. What a rush! Until I get home and put the material on the shelf in order to work on it later. Yikes, here we go again. In the end, I just feel guilty.

I listen to the news on the radio, I’m aware of the effects of mass consumerism on the planet and I want to contribute by being more conscious of my choices, and less reactive. When I look around my work area I want to see open space so my mind feels clear and expansive, rather than contracting under the pressure of all the things I must get done. I want to be more present with ideas as they arrive. Then if I feel like pursuing it, I don’t want to wait for a year to pass before I can take action.

There are a few things that I need to do to make all of this happen. Firstly I see the importance of embracing what I currently have. Which means using materials I have collected over the years, completing projects that have remained untouched or letting go of them altogether. As well as becoming increasingly discerning about which projects I decide to pursue in the first place.

To begin, I’ll start taking one project off the shelf at one time. Here we go!

The first project I selected to complete is a purse with tortoiseshell handles. I found the handles at a thrift store in Orangeville, ON called Seconds Count. It’s one of those places that still charge $1 - $2 for many of their items. It’s run by volunteers, and the proceeds are donated to the community hospital. The handles had to come home with me.


I rooted through my stash to find a material that would match the handles well, but nothing jumped out at me. So I took the handles fabric shopping. Once I was in the store it dawned on me how many different directions I could go. It was a bit daunting and I will admit that it took me awhile to decide. I kept texting a girlfriend who’s taste I implicitly trust, the options that I was mulling over. We settled on the same one, thankfully.


The next decision up to bat was the shape of the bag. I cut out different paper patterns in order to figure out the size and shape that suited the handles and the fabric. It was all very rough, but they acted as a helpful tool in making a final decision.

Here is the finished bag. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I like that the shape mimics the fabric pattern and I’m confident that I will use it. I did have a little fabric left over so I made a couple of cushions as a bonus.