One of the many challenges of being an artist is storing supplies and, for book artists, that means paper. Do we roll it up? Lay it flat? And where in our studio do we store paper without exposure to dust, bugs and other troublesome elements?
Ideally I think we’d all love to have a nice set, or three, of flat files. Big, flat, thin drawers to cradle all of that beautiful paper that we just can’t resist. If you’ve ever been to the annual paper sale at Flax in San Francisco, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s such a deal, why not buy more? Because you have to store it somewhere.
I agonized over whether I could afford flat files (I tried Craigslist and Freecycle in addition to art and office supply stores, I even tried school suppliers hoping that they might have a bit more of a bargain for classroom storage) and, even if I could afford them, would they fit in my studio, a 10 x 10 bedroom? The only option was to remove my work table and use the top of the flat files as workspace. I didn’t really like this idea and thought long and hard about what I truly needed.
I realized that because of the size limitations of my computer printer it was unlikely that I would ever make artists’ books that would need full sheets of paper. This changed the size of the paper that I needed to store from 22 x 30 to half sheets of 22 x 15. I knew I wanted drawers, not containers with lids, so that I could stack them and not have to move anything to get to the paper. I do enough of that shuffling around already in my studio. I scoured the local stores and the internet for a product that would work.
Enter the Wide Underbed Drawers from the Container Store. These stackable drawers are 23 x 27 x 6.5 high and easily hold half sheets of pretty much any paper I’ve bought. It turns out that 6 of them fit neatly between my upper and lower linen closets. Aha. Instant flat paper storage for a pittance compared to the price of flat files. $150 for six drawers (38 ” of stacked height) instead of the $500-$1500 I would have paid for flat files. Even better, by ordering online and picking up at my local Container store, shipping is free and they brought the items to my car. Now that is customer service.
I’ve had my stacking drawers for more than a year now. I’m very happy with the size, the ease of stacking and the amount of paper I can fit in the drawers. They are easy to open and close and do not jam. Because of their height, I am able to store boxes in the drawers to divide the paper. For example, if I’ve cut Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain short and Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain long I want to be able to store them separately but I don’t want to use up a whole drawer for just one stack. I use the Stockholm Office Boxes, also from the Container Store, to hold smaller sheets inside the larger drawers. (Just to be clear, I have no affiliation with The Container Store, I just love these products enough to recommend them.)
I have no idea yet where this flat paper storage will go in my new studio, but because of their stackability there is a lot of flexibility, certainly more than if I’d purchased flat files.
A friend of mine, Kitta, stores hers in rolls in a wine rack turned on it’s back, another friend under her bed. How do you store large pieces of paper for your art?