Friday, January 6, 2017

Interview with an artist studio tour

Today's post is about studio organization. Look at the sewing machine cover here. Amazing!
You might want to click on the image to see details. I often interview artists for my blog on living the creative life, so when I was invited into the studio of my friend Cindy I asked if I could share some of her organization techniques.
She has a sunny room and wanted to protect her Bernina so she designed this cover. Where I might throw a piece of felt over mine but don't, I let it go bare, she designed this lovely cover with log cabins embroidery and hand beading.
So when Cindy got full possession of this room when her husband moved his office to another room, she decorated it in calm green and blue, coordinating chair, table, and storage units with fabric draping. The whole room, though not large, now works as a unit. I asked how it felt to come in to the room, and she said it is "her" space of comfort now.
Let's consider the concept of space. We all create and it is a big deal having a space that encourages us to feel comfortable and relaxed. When my studio is in order it gives me such joy to enter. Every place I look gives me joy. Cindy has created a space that gives her joy.
She organizes her fabric by color, and by subject (Christmas, designer collections, etc) and to protect them as well as give the space unity, she made a drape. Plywood was covered in muslin on the top, velcro attached by tabs allows for an easy release cover.
Her cutting table is simple table on risers with storage under the drape made with coordinating fabric. So tidy and restful. Note she did not just line the four walls with furniture, this cutting work table leads you into the room.
The room's original closet has been filled with usable storage drawers to hold tools, beads, embroidery thread, etc. Labeled of course. She can pull out a drawer one at a time, take it to the work table. She replaced the folding doors with another drape in the same soft green but different pattern.

Just a side note. A system can be beautiful when tidy, but if it doesn't work for your supplies it won't stay that way. Like me, Cindy has amended her systems over the years til she reached one that works for her. Now it makes sense, is easy to put items away and find them again.
 Do not be reluctant to redesign a space as you use it.
You change over time and your storage needs change.
Lovely and usable. See the design wall across from the work table which now holds the drawers we pulled out to look into. She has special decorations and plants in here also, to reflect her interests and inspire.
On her design wall are some heavily beaded "twinchies"(2"fabric) and other works in progress.

I asked if she tidied up at the end of each day or after the close of a project. She tends to leave a project out at the end of the day so she can step right back in next time. Like many of us, she will tidy up at the end of a project. I think the smaller your space to create, the more one needs organization that works, and the tidier you need to be.

Right now I can't see a flat surface in the studio for the piles. I create in a downstairs bedroom turned studio.

Cindy has been making quilts for a long time. She has designed paper piecing patterns for sale, as well as personal patterns for her own use like my recent needle book and her machine cover. She is creative, and if she learns from someone else or a pattern source she usually changes it to suit her needs.

That's how I work too.
When you are sewing purely for relaxation and hobby, it's comfortable to follow directions. When you learn a new technique from someone it's a good idea to follow their directions to learn. We all enjoy this kind of handwork.

Artists approach it a bit differently. They usually want to express themselves in whatever medium they choose. They learn what is needed in that medium (fabric, clay, metal etc) to make well constructed art, and then take it to new places as they express themselves in their art. I often interview artists I come across because I like to hear how someone working in another medium works. I think we all approach it from a place of inspiration, taking inspiration from life.
To a person they say their studio is a mess. Ah, there is comfort in that.

I have a quote on my wall (not Cindy's)  that has unfortunately faded (identipens,  grrrrr) so I can't say who said it.

Artists create from what they see, but what they see is primarily what they look at.

 Like many artists Cindy quietly creates in her space. Luckily I got to peek into her world today. I hope you enjoyed it too.


  1. I love the idea to organize things so fabulous... she is an artist... in any way :o)

  2. Thanks for a peek into anothers studio.

  3. I really enjoyed this! I've been meaning to make sewing machine covers for so long and just never get around to it. And I love that last quote- it's a good reminder to keep looking at a variety of things!

    It's interesting to think about relationships between tidiness and studio space- on the one hand, without question in a smaller space you have to be more organized/tidy or else there's simply not room to work. But I've found, as I was privileged to move into a larger space than previously, that without the urgent space pressure to keep organized, things can get really lost never to be seen again... But maybe that's just me!

    1. I don't know if my space is large but it's out of order. I need Micky Mouse to come in as the magician and wave a wand or something!

  4. Thank you for taking us into this beautiful place. xx

  5. What a fine studio CinDy has created for her self!lots of inspiration here .i tend to think a studio that works for the artist attracts more creative moments. thank For sharing worth us!

  6. What a lovely and creative space. Kudos to your friend for creating an inspiring space. Love the blue/green colors.

  7. Not only is Cindy organized, but her space looks good. It looks finished. My space was once "the den" and is right inside the front door. So it is very visible to anyone who enters and hardly ever looks neat. OTOH no one visits us much, so I guess it's not a huge problem. But I like the curtain around the cutting table. I might be able to do something like that. Thanks for the interview.

  8. That looks so nice and tidy while being so functional. I like how the draping also protects the fabrics. Love the machine cover.

  9. I've just had such a great read, coffee at hand, of all your recent posts. I love your I Like items and am always interested to see how many matches we are. Organization is a big deal for us stitchers...I have wool and cross stitch stuff too and I hate having to drag out other stuff to find what I know I have poked away somewhere. Like you, I love seeing how others get their spaces in order. So interesting...thanks and Happy New Year!

  10. What a beautiful space, that sewing machine cover is amazing! I agree you have to make it functional as well as pretty.

  11. So impressive! And that machine cover is to die for - wow! Thank you for the tour and the ideas. One can dream

  12. Love the tour! Always learn something from each artist' work space!! Thanks LeeAnna!

  13. Beautiful studio! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love the sewing machine cover!

  14. I need a sewing machine cover, too. Cindy created a great system for herself. There are ideas we can all use. Thanks.

  15. If I had a sewing machine cover like that I might never get my machine out" Cindy's space is so organised and well thought out.

  16. that machine cover is gorgeous! I have a whole room upstairs to quilt but have brought my machine downstairs. I now create in chaos on a tiny table! Mind you, my spacious sewing room is a mess too!

  17. It is always fun to see another crafter's studio, and get ideas and inspiration! I always used to enjoy that during my teaching career, too - getting a peak at another teacher's classroom and finding things you had never thought to try.

  18. I use bookcases for my material. Having to explain to non-quilter's why you have to cover the material???? I used Velcro tabs on top of BC and then on the material I used.. Very nice workspace...

  19. Cindy's sewing machine cover is a mini work of art!

    I love seeing others' creative spaces. It always gives me ideas for making mine more organized and useful.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week's Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!