Yesterday, I talked about using items and not saving them for “good.” I’ve been clearing and culling art supplies and have moved on to the linen closet, my office, and storage places. The hardest to get rid of were the hard copies of magazines I’ve published articles in. I have 12 years of Somerset Studio, for example, because I write The Business of Art column. That’s a lot of magazines.
Here are some tips for clearing out:
Art supplies: donate to schools, senior centers, homeless shelters. Phone first. Ask what they need. One place insisted I package every art supply separately with instructions for how to use it. That is their right, but would have taken me weeks to do. A few phone calls helped me find the right schools and centers for my supplies.
Books: donate to schools (if in good condition), children’s centers, senior centers, especially if they are big print books. If there are used book stores in your area, see if they purchase or trade books. If you are in an art group, ask if anyone wants them for altered book projects or collage.
Magazines: Rarely, libraries will want a collection. If you are going to ask, make sure you have a run of every magazine in the right order. Ask your friends about magazines. You never know what projects they are working on.
Tablecloths, quilts, embroidered linens: We have several lovingly made quilts that are worn through. My mother-in-law was frugal, and many of them are pieced from clothing. Too fragile to use, they hold memories. I’ve hired someone who knows how to sew to make table runners and placemats out of them. I’ll distribute them to other family members, too. Other uses: decorative pillows, swags for curtain rods, appliques for tote bags, kitchen aprons.
Towels: Save a few (three) for soaking up messes. Keep them in an easy to reach location, otherwise, a panicky person will use your new bath towels to soak up spilled bleach. Do not ask me how I know this. A wise reader told me that worn blankets and towels are welcomed by animal shelters. Don’t give threadbare towels to charity. Donate better towels that are the wrong color to homeless or charity locations. The really worn towels are great for animal shelters.
Kitchen goods: Most homeless shelters don’t want pots and pans. You may have to dig deep for battered women’s shelters, for charities that help people who have lost possessions through natural disasters get back on their feet. It’s worth it. The recipients are grateful.
If the places you bring items to is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, ask for a donation slip for tax purposes. They will not itemize, so do it before you take the items. If you give items to friends, you can’t deduct it from your taxes. At least, that is what my accountant said.
You don’t have to break your heart when you thin out your supplies, you can make other people happy with them.
—Quinn McDonald is on a cleaning jag.