Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rubbermaid Bento - Before and After

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I was notified by Rubbermaid that I was a finalist in a contest I entered on their website and as my prize I received a set of Rubbermaid's new organizational boxes called Bento. All I had to do to qualify for the first prize was organize an area of my home and send them a photo of it.

Much to my surprise, it was much more difficult for me to do this than I would have imagined. Because I had to photograph the final project, I was conscious of the fact that the Bento boxes had to be a prominent feature in the photo. This is where it became difficult. The boxes, as wonderful as they are, are not optimally sized for the kinds of things I needed to organize, namely my crafting area. The two smaller sizes worked out well enough but the two larger sizes were a bit more problematic. In order to work around this, I actually ended up doing an overhaul of my space, moving things from one side of the room to the other, rearranging stuff and actually throwing out a lot of things that had really outlived their usefulness to me. This was a great thing for me. In the process I was able to place those items that I use frequently within reach, consolidate some of my supplies so like items were together instead of scattered around the room, and in general make my work area more functional. It was something I had wanted to do for quite a while but kept putting it off. Being forced to do it was actually a good thing.

Here are before and after photos. Now that I see the difference, I realize just how scary my craft area looked. When my son saw the newly organized area, his reaction was "Wow!". Coming from him, that says a lot. What do you think? Please comment below and give me some feedback.

I will soon be posting my 'after' photo on the Rubbermaid website as per the conditions of the contest. Winner to be chosen based on votes received so I'll be posting the voting website here as soon as voting opens. I hope you will all choose to vote for me and help me win the $500 top prize. Thanks.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

UPDATE: The votes are in and I placed in the top ten out of 50 finalists. My third prize winning included a prize package full of great new Rubbermaid products. So essentially I won a box of goodies, took a picture of what I did with it, then won another box of goodies. Not too shabby.

Friday, November 4, 2011

UPDATE: The Ladies Are Gonna Like This...

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In a previous post, I posted photos of the necklace kits I was creating for my weekly crafting session with the ladies of Dorchester Senior Citizens Center in the Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn. As I predicted, the ladies really liked working on their necklaces. In fact, I had to turn some people away for lack of sufficient kits to accommodate them.

One of my favorite parts of crafting at the senior center is watching the faster crafters turn and help their slower neighbors. On several occasions I have seen one 95 year old woman turn to assist another 95 year old classmate. It is also gratifying to see young volunteers and nursing students working with the seniors.

Here are some photos from the necklace crafting class. Maybe in the faces of these beautiful people you can see why they make me smile.

Ballo ergo sum - Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Ladies Are Gonna Like This...

(Click on photo to see a large image.)

In a departure from our usual paper based projects, this week my senior crafting group will be working on a lovely necklace to warm their necks during these chilly days. The beads used in this projects were all found at Materials for the Arts over several shopping trips. The pretty metal tube spacer beads were among the latest finds on the last trip I took there with the senior center director.

The necklaces are worked up in two different color schemes to appeal to different tastes: pink and black for bold contrast and orange and brown for a more seasonally appropriate palette. Since my seniors do not have any jewelry making skills, I created the dangles individually so all they have to do is string the beads in the prescribed pattern. That in itself will be a challenge with my strong willed women who may opt to string them any way they wish. We'll see what occurs. Come what may, they will be beautiful in their new finery. They always are.

NOTE: Go here to read the update to this article and see more photographs.

Ballo ergo sum
 - Gitana, the Creative Diva

Rubbermaid and Me

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Some weeks ago I received an email from Rubbermaid introducing a new line of organization and storage boxes called Bento, inspired by the Japanese lunchbox of the same name. The email also announced a contest called "What would you Bento?" wherein entrants would submit a short essay explaining what they would organize if they had a set of Bento boxes. That was a no brainer. I'm an artist + I have a workshop = I have a mess. So I entered the contest, promptly forgot about it and moved on. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Rubbermaid last week telling me I was one of 50 finalists in Phase I and my prize was a brand new set of Bento boxes. All I had to do was agree to participate in Phase II of the contest in which I actually had to organize an area of my home, photograph it and upload the photo to the contest website. The first prize winner gets $500 and is chosen by a professional organizer. The second and third place winners are chosen by popular vote.

Above right you can see what just a small section of my work area looks like. These shelves, located immediately next to my work table, contain many of the items I use on a constant basis so I'm always reaching for them, hence the topsy turvy look of it all. Below that you'll see a photo of the Bento boxes when they arrived at my home a few days after I received the email. As you can see, they are very pretty and contain flexible dividers inside to allow for some customization to suit specific storage needs. They also have reversible tops that can be used as lids or as storage trays. Now all I have to do is bring the boxes to the mountain of 'stuff' I've got and see if it will make a dent in taming the clutter. (FYI,  it does look messy but everything is in its place and I know where everything is. It's just such a motley assortment of different storage items that it looks a lot worse than it really is.)

I've already begun moving things around in an attempt to corral the chaos and it has really been a very good thing. In the process I have been able to jettison a lot of stuff that I no longer had any use for, thus freeing up some space. These Bento boxes will not be enough to hold everything I have in these shelves, to say nothing of the rest of the basement. (Yes, Virginia, I use up nearly an entire basement...both a blessing and a curse.) In any event, they will no doubt help make the place look somewhat more pulled together aesthetically. I'll post more photos once I've completed the reorganization and I'll be soliciting votes in an attempt to win a cash prize so stay tuned. Thanks.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva