We have a running joke in our family. My grandpa (not the one with the bear, the other one) was known for writing his name on EVERYTHING, often accompanied by his address. This was always in black or silver Sharpie. Always. And everything. I'm talking, his camera bag, tools, notebooks, tv set, and everything else. When he died, when I was in 6th grade, my dad took us over to his house a lot to clean things up, and I was allowed to keep any pens that I found. I ended up with several quality Uniball pens of various colors, and some silver Sharpies as well. Which is treasure to a 12 year old artist. I still have that green Uniball pen, and I'm afraid of using it up one day.
Anyway. Tangent over.
So in our family, if we write our name excessively on our belongings or on things that don't really need our names, or include our address or supplementary information, we call it "pulling a Ron" after my grandpa. So on occasion, I label something ridiculous in block letters in silver Sharpie. Just for fun. But I'm a little more specific with art supplies. Sometimes because things are overly large, or because I'm just running to get coffee around the corner and don't feel like locking everything up, I have to leave them in a classroom studio where anyone could take them. And let's be honest: art students are pretty much always broke. Between art supplies and caffeine addictions, our bank accounts have no hope. So having something out in the open can be pretty tempting. Here's how I have successfully avoided things being stolen (besides one umbrella freshman year, which was not labeled).
1. Be nice to people. If they know you and like you, they are less likely to steal your things without feeling guilty. Unless they're just really bad people. And I don't really know too many of those.
2. Label things with your first & last name (even if you're the only Michaela in your school) in an easy to find, obvious place.
3. Include a note. This is the important part. Here are some examples.
Michaela will bite you if you try to swap studio spaces. Fo realz, though.
The sheep whose wool this yarn was made from is one Michaela rescued. It is very important that only she uses this wool and makes art about this extraordinary experience.
If you take this harddrive, Michaela will cry magnetic tears that will only follow you around so you will be treading water for the rest of your life.
Don't even think about breathing on this computer or else velociraptors will hunt you down and bite off your pinky fingers.
This is Michaela's ruler and you shouldn't steal it because stealing is mean and that would make you a mean person, and you don't want that, do you?
This is not your paper! This is Michaela's paper, and she will make wonderful things with it. If you steal it, she will not be able to make wonderful things, and humanity will suffer due to this deficit in art. All because you're a thief.
So last year I had this handy dandy 36" roll of tracing paper (ahhh, repeat pattern silkscreen projects) that I frequently left in the fiber studio. But I labeled it with my name and "This is not your paper." (Oh, in capital letters, of course. That's key in making sure people know you're serious.) And sometimes I let Debbie use some. So in the summer when I realized I never took it hope, I figured Debbie might have it. But I kept forgetting to ask her. And I thought about it again a few days ago, and once again it slipped my mind. Until today, when I ran into someone else from that silkscreen class who said they needed to apologize! Why? Because she realized she had taken 2 rolls of tracing paper home without realizing it, and she read my note ("This is not your paper.") and realized it was mine! She's returning it, obviously, and she felt really bad. But it was an easy mistake, and I wasn't mad at all. And, this just proves that my labeling method is absolutely effective because the only time something was stolen, it was (well, will be) returned!