I own my stuff — it doesn’t own me

Since I occasionally make handbound books, I have a LOT of paper around here.? You don’t realize what a pain it is to store paper until you have to do it — you want to keep it unwrinkled and unfolded and unrolled as much as possible, and keep it from getting torn up (not easy when you live with cats with sharp claws).? For years I had my large sheets of paper stored in a portfolio under my bed.? That was less than optimal, because the portfolios aren’t very sturdy and keep getting torn up, plus some of the paper just didn’t fit into it.? Plus with cats that love to get under the bed and spend time, the paper wasn’t that safe.

Then I decided to hang the paper in our office closet.? I bought a bunch of skirt hangers, the ones with good sturdy clips, and hung a small stack of paper from each one.? Well, that was also a bust, because the clips wouldn’t hold the paper that securely.? If a hanger got jostled, chances were the paper was going to slip out.? The hangers themselves took up a LOT of room in the closet as well.? The cats were a factor again — the office closet is one of Donovan’s favorite places to hide, especially when company comes over.

We’d been talking about “Elfa-betizing” the office closet for a couple of years, since we did the master bedroom and it worked out so well.? Last weekend we did it — put in one of the new free-standing Elfa systems, with seven six-foot long shelves, reaching from floor to ceiling (which leaves just enough room for the Iris carts at one end).? We chose 20″ wide shelves for the bottom four to use the maximum depth of the closet, and 16″ wide for the top three.? They now occupy the former paper-hanging area.? The paper, well, it’s now lying flat on one of the 20″ shelves in one roughly four-inch-high stack.? I did my best, but some of it just wasn’t going to fit in the area…so I either cut the sheet in two, or folded it down the middle, to make it fit.

The paper is here to be used, not to just take up space and be in the way.? If a little of it here and there gets wrinkled, it can be ironed (!).? If it gets a couple of tears or holes, so what?? I can work around those, or find another paper for that project.? I need to make the paper work for me, not worry about what I’m doing for it (if that makes any sense).? So now it’s taking up much less space, is in as safe a place as it will be here, and I have tons more room in that closet for all the OTHER stuff that needs a home.

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