I like cleaning and sweeping up. Always have. I like to stop and put away. Organise my workflow, my tools, my wood and such. It’s nice. I do this according to the progress and stages of a project. The carcass gets made, I clean and clear. Then I start the next stage with a clean sheet (or, in my case, workbench). It’s a habit to do this and when I speak of therapy in a blog post as I did yesterday, cleaning is not just a part of the recovery process, it’s essential to it. I cannot say it has always been that way. The more you accumulate ‘treasures’ at a good price, the more the accumulations can clog up the free flow of things work. Cluttered benches happen. In the right flow of creativity, breaking off for a clean can actually break into the flow of creativity unnecessarily. That’s not laziness or procrastination. You must be able to check yourself internally transparently though, to make sure that’s actually the case and be prepared to organise if your honest evaluation says that there is no reason not to clean up and clear away. I clean and clear more than anyone that works with me because, in the very nature of my working, I’m the one that make mess and I don’t need someone else to do it for me. Relocating tools and wood offcuts is a must and it must happen many times during my day. If a tool is missing I must find it. It’s a lost sheep and the assemblage of all things will be incomplete without it.
Habits good and bad are established in the repeated doing of things. My moving into my garage workshop has indeed meant getting used to new spaces and new places for my tools, wood and equipment.
On the bench above it may not look too bad as workbenches go, but serious analysis tells me differently. Here I am at a point where I stop. It’s not a choice but a must. Let’s take a look at why. My wood is awry. It could have been stacked more neatly at least and set aside to somewhere safe. Obviously I have used the winding sticks to work the wood. These too could be hung on the nail even if I am not quite altogether done with them yet. It looks like I am in the midst of sharpening my planes. Personally, when sharpening begins, it’s always time to clear the decks. Sharpening can mean the odd messy splash.The moisture meter too is done with if, as in this case, I am obviously at the stage of refining my wood for the project. That too could be stowed. Rasp and file? Done with them. Put them up!
Now I am not altogether a believer in what Einstein supposedly said at some time,“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” My workbench is always cluttered and decluttered and it is a routine for me to clutter and clear. It’s one of my favourite things and it is very much a part of my establishing beauty and loveliness in my work to periodically declutter. In my saying ‘it is not what you make but how that determines the outcome.’ It’s also true then when I say that ‘disease, and by that I mean ‘dis-ease’ and not the result of bacteria, results from things being in a state of disorder.’
The antidote to chaos is of course coordination in every sphere of our creativity. Especially is this so at the workbench, in the workshop and surrounding the workbench. The therapeutic work in creativity is as much about maintaining an orderly workshop as it is about making lovely and beautiful things. These two partners go hand in hand. Does that mean no clutter, dust and shavings? Not at all. We like those too. It means we work creatively on projects and stop periodically to regain lost territory.