My studio started life as a curing house; it’s where we would cure bacon, middlin, hams, jowls and such. Each Thanksgiving holiday, we’d slaughter hogs, a community event, and, as they say in the South, it would all be used ‘cept for the squeal. That lasted about the first four or five years and then I had enough of “good ole boys” showing up to “see what was going on” and it was easier to stop hog killing than continue going up against their attitude of “what’s it to ya?” when I’d ask their reason for walking willy nilly on our farm.
The studio is beautiful, to me at least, in all weather and at all times of the day. It’s 12 x 12, has a couple of rugs on the floor, electricity, heat and air conditioning. Electrical outlets are on every wall, either side of all windows and about 36 inches from the floor. As I’ve aged, I’ve found it’s much easier to plug something in when I don’t have to crawl around on the floor. Having the outlets higher, makes it easier to unplug iron, sewing machines and heavy usage equipment before leaving for the evening. The ceiling fan and lights add additional light as do the smaller “true light” floor fixtures. The roof is tin and is a joy when there’s a rainstorm! Generally, the door is propped open so the dogs and cats can come and go. It’s important this space be shared as a family so I wait until frigid weather…and the dogs coming inside and staying… before shutting us inside. The windows are left open until that same time so we enjoy the very last smidge of good weather and all windows have those little “put in place” screens.
As I enter the studio, the cutting table is on my left. As you can see, it’s piled high with finished baby quilts and baby quilts ready to be put together. I usually cut out a bunch of quilting projects and then use the table to layer material and batting, use as extra space, iron, etc. The iron is handy close to the right of the table.
I enjoy embroidered things; they act as inspiration and a jolt of added color. When I want, or need, to rest my eyes, of course I look outside. God’s creation never fails to bring peace and calm, even if there’s a storm brewing or rain beating down. I figure when it’s lightening, that’s just God taking my photo -smile-.
Dave is constantly amazed at the way the space is utilized; there’s a space for everything and, most times, everything is in place. Yes, I do re-arrange to make it work for me and that’s on an as needed basis. Every wall has shelves and these shelves are between the sewing machines and the work table; just to the right of the Singers and hold cones of thread and yarn used for machine and hand sewing and embroidery.
There are weeks where I sew daily; other times, I’ll go for a week and never touch a sewing machine. When I do sew, I use both these machines; the 1971 Singer was a gift to myself from me upon high school graduation. It’s a sturdy machine, made of good, solid metal and while the cabinet has seen a bit of wear both it and the machine are still in excellent shape. The 1953 Singer Featherweight is a workhorse and having the small table designed to hold that particular machine is an added bonus.
Both sewing machines have floor lamps and the newer Singer also has a small lamp clamped to the shelving. Various resource books and magazines line the shelves to the left as do small jars holding beads, buttons and other small items. The wreath in front of the window is made of bird feathers.
The blue and green wall vertical shelving behind the Featherweight holds Quilting Arts; Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Stampington magazines. Hanging overhead are a couple of dowel rods where I store ribbon; it’s handy and easily pulled and cut from the roll.
To the right of the work table, just visible center, is the material collection. The material on the wall shelves is for bed and baby quilts while the material in the small white case and white hanging baskets are for mini-art quilts, textile books, textile post cards, etc. The desk is used for all projects except quilting and, sometimes, I’ll take my laptop to the studio and write magazine articles, etc. When I leave the door open, the dogs come and go as they see fit. At various times during the day they use the studio and outside to play, nap and chew on their “cigar chewies” . The dogs sleep so much better when they’ve had a busy, exercise filled day and when the dogs sleep better…so do I! -smile-
There is a fair amount of storage space in the eves. The studio is only ten feet from rafters to floor so I had the “attic” space left open and added a couple of pieces of plywood either side so heavier, bulkier fabric bolts could be stored high. I have a footstool that’s used to access this space when necessary.
As anyone knows who makes things by hand, it’s horrible to find yourself missing “something” to continue working on a project. By buying batting in bulk, I ensure there’s never a point at which I have to stop and make an emergency run to Joanne Fabric…a round trip of about 75 miles; that’s so inefficient both in terms of vehicle costs and my time!
One of the best things we did was put in a metal door and a screen door; the metal door acts as a memo pad and a design board and is always in use. The screen door keeps out moths and flies although I’ve found leaving the ceiling fan on all the time, also helps keep out flies. We’re in a rural area, surrounded by horses, sheep and cattle and flies are a constant nuisance.
The studio is in constant use on a weekly basis. Textile and fabric art projects, quilting, card making, felting, jewelery making, beading, spinning yarn, knitting and more are ongoing projects. Right now I’ve got several baby quilts I’m hand quilting, several more to put together with batting, a couple ready to sew. There are also earring and necklace projects in the making, felted pins, mini-art quilts and quilted book journals in process. A small boom box and MP3 player make sure I’ve got audio books, music and sermons to keep my mind busy while my hands are busy.
It’s true this small studio doesn’t have the space to teach classes but we do have other buildings on the farm that can be used for teaching. The farm office building has heat as well as hot and cold running water. It also has work bench tables with stools, chairs and padded mats for standing. I’ve not taught in a few years but am leaving that option open; who knows what the future brings?
I’m a firm believer in having a space where one can say, “this is mine”. It’s important to make time and space for things that make our hearts Zing, that allow us to be creative, employ and enjoy our God given talents. We all have talent for making things by hand but sometimes we need time and space to figure out exactly what that talent might be. I do sell my things but find greater satisfaction in finding a need and filling it. God has blessed Dave and I by meeting all our needs and a fair number of our wants; I try and pass along those blessings when directed. Time spent in my studio is time well spent both in terms of being creative and using my time wisely although I’ve never allowed not having a studio to prevent me from making things. Before the studio, I used wooden boxes and cloth bags to carry around various projects and set up my sewing machine in the hall. As a wise woman once said, “it’s just as easy to do something you enjoy doing as it is to do something you don’t enjoy.” I should add, “and probably more productive!”
Until next time,