6 down, 4 to go…

I do this to myself, embark on a Herculean task that no sane person would even try, and then put a deadline on it.  I’ve no one to blame but myself.  

First off, I waited until the last minute, the day before the deadline for an exhibit, to photograph the garment for said exhibit entry, and of course had all sorts of technical issues, including a failing card reader in the computer, note this is less than a year old.  I eat card readers for lunch.  The expensive lovely one I had purchased before my husband died, got fried last year when my computer went haywire and I had a new system installed.  Sigh… The new expensive one is due in tomorrow, and then I’ll have to call my tech guy in to install it.  It is always something.  There are days when I feel like nothing will ever go smoothly again.  But that’s a silly poor me thought, because truth be told, just about everything in my life goes smoothly, I have a lot to be grateful for, and the end result of all the shenanigans on Wednesday, was this…

And this…

The vest wasn’t actually for entering the show, but I never formally photographed either piece, and that step is really important.  Both pieces represent new silhouettes I offer in my garment construction classes, especially the five day retreats.  The swing coat is a deluxe variation of the Daryl Jacket, lots of darts, a shawl collar, and a longer swing version with side pockets.  And piping, and bound buttonholes, and a lining, and this is a lot of work.  But gorgeous.  I’ve had great response to it.

Because someone will probably ask, I hand painted the warps myself, and wove the fabric, it is mostly rayon.  The weave structure is original, a combination of plain weave and twill on 8 shafts.

The collared vest came out of an article I did last year for Threads Magazine, issue 193, Oct/Nov 2017, on using the lining as seam finish under one of their columns called Sewing Saves.  I taught the technique for years, but hadn’t really done a newer more updated piece with it.  I used the leftovers from this coat, turned crosswise to make more of an ombré, and I loved the effect. The vest is lined with black corduroy, and the black lines across the yoke and side and shoulder seams are the lining coming through to the front.   I’ve had the vest at the last few classes and students really really wanted the pattern.  It is a variation on the Daryl Jacket, but with the collar change, and no band, the fit and configuration were enough of a difference to need a complete redraft off my regular Daryl Jacket pattern.  And then there was explaining how to do it.  

So, spending all of January building the samples and the jacket for a summer Threads Magazine article on making bound buttonholes, followed by the trip to Cuba, we are now getting dangerously close to spring and the start of my travels, I’ve accomplished nothing of what I originally thought I’d do this winter in the studio. Getting this vest pattern into production was really a priority.  I want to offer it for students to trace in my two day fit workshop at Convergence in Reno in July, but I hate to go to Convergence with something untested.  And so Cincinnati, you get to try it out.  I’m heading there March 1, like in a week, and I’m desperately trying to finish grading all sizes, making all ten sizes into samples that students can try on to determine size, and then writing the extensive handout with all the illustrations, that has proven to be quite a challenge.  There are some tricky techniques to construct this thing, and to make it more difficult, a couple of options or views.  

Anyway, I’m getting close.  All of my garment samples use old bedsheets, because the fabric is very stable and will stay true to the original pattern size, and because they are fairly lightweight and will pack down nicely with the other 50 some samples I have from the vest with armbands, walking vest, swing coat, tunic, and three variations of the Daryl Jacket.  

I just finished vest #6 tonight.  I have four more to complete.  But I have to order more zippers from WAWAK.  I went to Joann’s today, and not only was the selection terrible, but one zipper was $6, and WAWAK has them in 26 colors for about $1.15 each.  Fortunately they ship quick.

I spent three uninterrupted days this weekend hand drawing the little illustrations, bringing the handout to about 19 pages.  I  wanted to be able to follow it, proofing while I completed the remaining vests, and have already found many errors, some silly, and some critical.  I surprise myself sometimes…

So I check things off my to do list, and more things to do quickly fill up the paper.  I keep thinking, if only I can get through this event, or this project, or this article, life will ease up.  So far I’ve been miserably wrong about that…

Meanwhile my trusty office assistant and I have created digital downloads of many of my monographs and they seem to be selling well.  It is lovely to get an order and not have to stop what I’m doing, print and ship.  I’ve already saved a ton of ink.  I’m now thinking about offering the extensive handouts for each of my pattern silhouettes as digital downloads for free.  For each pattern you trace in a workshop, you need the bound book of directions.  That’s a lot to print and ship ahead to a workshop on speculation, and if I decide to tweak a sentence or two, the extra books are then obsolete and throwaways.  Having digital versions means that the download is always the most current version.  This is what I think about while I’m sewing endless collared vests…  

Stay tuned…

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The road less traveled…

 

From the hotel room

We sat around a dining table over mojitos, a couple of my tour mates and I, one of the last evenings of our trip to Cuba.  I asked how my fellow tour mates planned to respond when the casual friend or acquaintance wanted to know how the trip to Cuba went.  All of us agreed that you can’t just say, “Oh it was really fun, or it was a lovely vacation, or it was warm and sunny and beautiful”.  None of those adjectives even begin to tell the story that is Cuba today. 

I will say that if I had to summarize my experience, it would be life altering.  I learned so much, appreciated so much, felt the Cuban pride all around, met the most resourceful and resilient peoples I think, in the world.  In spite of overwhelming poverty, crumbling infrastructure, lack of supplies, credit, minimal access to the internet, they hold their heads up with pride. There is no violence, little crime, free health care, women’s services, maternity care, maternity leave, free education, and equal rights and equal pay for women, and they survive.  They have survived for 450 years having some country or other occupy them, they have survived numerous invasions and slavery, yet they have held on to their arts, music and culture in whatever form that takes, and they do what they have to as a community to thrive. 

There is little crime in Cuba, no guns.  Though to be fair it is pretty easy to police that on an island.  But people don’t need guns.  Drugs are not prevalent because no one can afford them.  The Cubans are educated, well dressed, work hard at whatever they do, and make do.  It was a privilege to spend a week on their island.

You cannot begin to understand Cuba without a background in the socio-political history from the time Columbus landed (FYI, it wasn’t in the actual United States) and wiped out the indigenous population and the following Spanish invasion. Then the British invaded, and back to the Spanish in exchange for Florida.  A series of rebellions ended Spanish rule and then followed US military occupation.  The slave trade in Cuba was huge, necessary for the production of sugar, and slavery ended about 20 years after it was outlawed in the US in the late 1800’s.

Cuba gained its independence in 1902, but with that came political corruption and crime and gambling and control by the mafia.  In any case, that was how it was explained to me.  Cuba is mostly defined now by the 1959 revolution when the people took back their country and drove out the gambling, the wealthy, the crime and started to live as a socialist country under communist rule.  With the collapse of the Soviet block in 1992, the Cuban’s entered something called the “Special Period”. They are sort of adrift, especially since the US embargo, which has been in place since the revolution in ’59, has prevented them from benefiting from the global market we all take for granted.  Yet the people we talked to, listened to in lectures, professors, leaders in the community, urban planners, artists, writers and architects, all told the same story.  They put one foot in front of the other and make do and celebrate what they have and what they can do with it.  Tomorrow is completely unknown.

The printing school of graphic arts boasts a press from the 1700’s.  Everywhere you look are cars from the 1950’s in showroom condition.  You know they don’t have access to parts, they figure out how to make them from whatever they can find. 

The buildings are all made of concrete, plaster and brick because that can be made on the island.  There is little wood, small tropical trees don’t produce what would be necessary to build a house, maybe just the front door. My understanding is that there are 3.1 building collapses a day in the country.  Yet there is an amazing respect for the standing infrastructure, no graffiti, no trash, no money to repair, restore or replace, yet they make do with pride. 

Streets are made of cobblestones, actually rocks used as ballast in the 17-1800’s from sugar deliveries to New England. Ships needed ballast to return safely to Cuba.  Rocks from Massachusetts.  They have lasted for a couple hundred years.  They will live on.  The Cuban cab drivers bicycle their passengers over the rocky cobblestones with grit and training and raw determination. 

On every corner, in every restaurant there are musicians.  There is a musical pulse to this country.  Everywhere you look there is art and sculpture. Some of it is good art and some of it is not great art, but it doesn’t matter.  Everyone is encouraged to contribute somehow, to be creative, classes are set up in community art centers for kids to come after school,  classes in dance, music, theater, pottery, painting drawing and printmaking.

It is not lost on me the irony of some of the fans of the Eagles Football team that just won the Super Bowl Sunday night were looting and burning their city in celebration of their team’s win.  Why do people do that?  I was struck by the incredulity of the wealth of the Europeans that had established palaces and estates in Havana prior to the revolution, that imported the best of everything, Sèvres Porcelain, Aubusson Rugs, Baccarat Crystal, Czech glass, Chippendale furniture, and when they fled in 1959 during the revolution, the citizens didn’t loot and destroy or sell off a bloody fortune in antiquities, they kept the buildings locked and when the wealthy didn’t return, they converted the buildings into museums.  Like the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas . The next time I’m at the MET in the European rooms, I will shake my head at the rival collection of antiquities I saw in the museums of Cuba.  Life has been frozen in time on this beautiful island, and most of the buildings date back to the late 1800’s.  Except the cars.  You have to love the cars.

Nothing is wasted here.  Some of the way junk is reused just makes you smile.  It is a painters paradise, to bring out an easel and paint would have been a dream come true, but when in and out of a tour bus for a week, there is little time for such a luxury.  So I will settle for some beautiful photos that I’m hoping I’ll be able to paint one day.

Cuban Educational Tours (CET) organized the trip for Peters Valley.  The tours and lectures were designed for the group that came, we were mostly crafts people, artists, or people that supported artists like spouses.  It was bittersweet for me at times, this being my first solo trip without my husband, because I found myself thinking, Kevin would have loved this, he would have taken a gazillion photos of this, he would have had so much fun doing this.  But he wasn’t there and I was and I was surrounded by the most interesting and creative and thoughtful and educated people.  Conversations on the bus alone were worth the trip. 

We saw dance performances of traditional African movements, celebrating the traditions of the slaves,  and a performance of Don Quixote with the Cuban National Ballet.  OMG!  The talent, the training, the commitment, the professionalism blew me out of my seat.  We saw a percussion/dance troupe, using chairs as their instrument, the sound was clear and rhythmic and beautiful.

We listened to Troubadours, and Cuban musicians, and we danced (fortunately I have no pictures of that) and we loved and yes, we bought the CD’s.  Carefully wrapped in paper and stapled.  There were rarely CD cases.

We ate amazing meals, lots of rice and beans but fish, chicken, pulled pork and beef.  There was lobster pizza and of course free flowing rum, and the island drink Mojitos.  That green is muddled mint.  About every 15 minutes we were handed another bottle of Ciego Montero, “the No 1 en Cuba” bottled water and were told that in reality, it is the only bottled water available in Cuba. 

We visited a pottery studio, a print making studio, heard lectures from Nationally respected artists, and got an art lesson from one of the professors in the University.  Even having to have his words translated, he made more sense in 10 minutes than the four years of my fine arts degree.  To have an idea come to fruition, you need the time, resources and repertoire or skillset and there is a constant flow of adjustment that moves back and forth from these concepts that result in the final work.  You can’t design an idea for 16 shafts when you only have 8, unless you have the skillset or repertoire and time to do pick up.  We visited an arts academy, created from an abandoned pre revolution golf resort, and we visited a trade school that trains youths in restoration skills in plaster, concrete, brickwork, plumbing and electricity and ironwork.  There is a lot of need for these skills in Cuba, as you can imagine.

Our accommodations were really lovely.  We stayed four nights in the Meliã Cohiba hotel in Havana, and two nights in Casa Particulares or private homes in Trinidad, a beautiful crumbling city on the southern coast of Cuba.  There really isn’t a hotel infrastructure that can support of lot of tourism, but resourceful Cubans have opened their homes to let outsiders come and stay with them. 

Bathrooms were an adventure.  I’ve talked to many friends who have traveled to Latin American countries and nations that don’t have the toilet infrastructure system we do here in the States.  I found myself really appreciating a basic toilet seat.  We had them in the hotels, and maybe a couple of the restaurants, but mostly, no.  Sometimes no running water, the toilet lady, who collected a coin to give you a couple sheets of toilet paper (which you weren’t allowed to throw in the toilet) would have to manually flush the toilet with a bucket of water.  I don’t know how she managed that, and I didn’t want to know.  You learned to carry tissues and wipes with you (which you couldn’t throw in the toilet) and hand sanitizer.  And in spite of judicious use of sanitizer, we all managed to pass around a wicked stomach virus with the results I’ll leave to your imagination.  I was one of the lucky ones in that when it hit me, I was safely in the hotel in the middle of the night where I had a toilet seat and toilet paper I could flush.  Gratitude. 

There is so much we take for granted here in the States.  We have known no other way of life.  I am truly touched by the generosity and resilience of the Cuban people, the way they talk about each other with pride.  They way they listen to every word coming out of the US because the US controls so much of their destiny.  They have five TV stations, one is from Venezuela, the others State owned.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite tours was to the Christopher Columbus cemetery.  The guide was hilarious, spoke perfect English and the stories of the dead were just the best.  And again, the wealth prior to the revolution.  There was an exact replica of the Pietà.  Yeah, that one.  Life size and perfect.  Because they could.

And we visited a tiled city started by artist Fuster, and enthusiastically embraced by the whole community.

I understand Peters Valley is sponsoring another tour to Cuba in November.  Go.  It should be required for every US citizen.  Go before the embargo is lifted and Cuba becomes America’s playground.  You won’t regret it.

Enjoy the rest of the photos…

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While you were sleeping…

I have a studio assistant, or really an office assistant, a lovely woman who has fast become my sounding board, my tech support, occasional warp winder, walking buddy (we do three miles 3x a week around town, accompanied by my beloved brat of a dog Ranger) and we joke that between us we have a complete brain.  

It isn’t that she is fabulous at technology,  it’s that she isn’t afraid.  I know that sounds odd, but like my late husband, when she doesn’t know the answer, she starts a query, starts a “chat” or starts pushing proverbial buttons.  She always figures it out.  My husband complained that I’d always gave up too soon.  Which is odd, considering what I do and how I do it in my studio life.  But technology never fascinated me, it was always something I had to do to promote my business, streamline my life, and live in the 21st century.  Back in the day, my studio assistant was actually a programmer, and business analyst.  She excels at Office Programs (pun intended).  

Anyway, one of my goals, once I got my eShop upgraded and cleaned up (my late husband set up the eShop back in 2005, which in technology equates to the stone age) and it was no longer supported and functioning, plus there was the issue with my blacklisted site…  My highly paid regular tech support eventually figured it all out, and though I won’t reveal sources, he was able to unblacklist my site going through a family member who worked for Google, and all is well on that end.  So the next step was to clean up the eShop and look towards the future.

Many of you know I’m getting tired.  I have not applied to any conferences for 2019, and I really don’t want to.  There is so much I want to do in life, that dragging around 70 pound suitcases no longer seems appealing.  I would still love to teach my 5 day retreats, I do adore my students and a bit of travel, but the grueling pace of travel, the prep, and the shear volume of variety of things I teach is keeping me from moving into the next phase of my life. 

I still have lots to contribute, and with the technology available today, I should be able to do that without leaving home and even (don’t tell anyone) working in my pajamas, in spite of the extensive handwoven wardrobe I have…  So my office assistant and I have been stealthily working over the past couple months, to reformat my monographs, many of them more than 10 years old, to clean up the fonts, (yes, many were still using Comic Sans, which in today’s world is a standing joke), the photos, the headings, the text and to create digital downloads of them.  It has been quite the process.  

Testing the downloads and figuring out how to upload and link and cleaning up the look of the site (yes that was using Comic Sans as well) has been a daily challenge.  At one point Cynthia, my office assistant said, as we reviewed a download on my Samsung Tablet, once she figured out how to get it to download on said Tablet (after calling Samsung, who thinks to do that?) and downloading the app that allows downloads, she said to me, “You need page numbers.”  That created an entire new set of problems because the books were written in PowerPoint 2003 or 7, but not in 2016, which apparently now requires Master Slides, or something like that, and hours later, we have page numbers.  

Scrolling through the digital file on my tablet I came up with the idea of an index or table of contents right up front.  What if you wanted to know how to do Turned Krokbragd in the Advanced Inkle book, are you going to scroll through some 80 slides of a PDF file to find it?  So that meant that we had to go back and create a table of contents for each of the presentations.   

The maximum size of a PDF file is 8mb so a couple of my monographs needed to be broken into pieces.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  So there is the Closures Monograph, the Bound Buttonhole Monograph and one on Zippers.  The content remains basically the same (without using Comic Sans) as my printed monographs, but they are cleaned up, fresh looking and consistent.  And you only buy what you want.  I’m still working on the Seams and Edge Finishes Monograph, again that will be broken into smaller downloadable parts, but there are a number of digital versions of my monographs available now in my eShop.  I got an order yesterday morning for my two inkle books from someone in Japan, which made me so happy because it was my overseas supporters who were missing out on much of the information I have to share because of cumbersome and expensive shipping and customs issues. Download and done.  No spending $650 a month on toner and paper.  Done…

And we are investigating using conferencing software to be able to create virtual guild meetings, I’m scheduled to do one in Indiana in March, which will mean again, no travel, cheaper rates, and I can work in my pajamas…

Meanwhile, I’m heading to warmer parts shortly, an educational tour of Cuba with Peters Valley, I’m very excited and instead of shopping for new clothes, I spent a couple days (while Cynthia was reformatting monographs) altering some of what I wasn’t wearing anymore in my closet.  I shortened things, resized things, and made some of the clothes I had fresh and fun.  Seems like the season for upgrades!  I even upgraded my old standby point and shoot camera yesterday.  And while I’m gone, my contractor is moving in for yet more repairs.  And Cynthia will keep plugging away at the office stuff.

So here is what’s available so far… Click here to access all the books below

 

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A New Year…

January was slowly becoming my favorite month.  It use to be September, fresh start of the school year, both my own and when my kids were young.  Fresh pencils, notebooks, and great expectations.  With the school years finished, September is just a slow slog to get through because most of my teaching occurs between August and November.  I love what I do, but the pace is killer.

January is cold.  (And this year was positively painful).  That means no working outdoors unless it snows. (Which it is supposed to today).  And there is supposed to be little on the calendar.  The holidays are finished.  The month is long.  Perfect time to reset the pace of the year and play catch up.

Yeah, that didn’t go so well.  Right now I’m frantically trying to finish up a couple dozen step out samples for making bound buttonholes for an article due the end of the week for Threads Magazine.  I tailored the jacket, and now have to do all those little samples.  Good thing I can make bound buttonholes with my eyes closed.

And Sunday is a music performance with my recorder consort, with a program I’ve been working for for about a month.  It is actually quite fun, I put together a PowerPoint slide presentation, (we all know I can do that in my sleep) of Pieter Bruegel the Elder paintings, and the consort will play sets of dances by composer Tielman Susato.  Both artists lived and worked in Antwerp in the 1550’s.  It is said they knew each other.  Sunday’s performance is at the Van Vleck House in Montclair NJ at 2pm if anyone local needs an afternoon out.  Point is I’ve been working on the slides, the presentation and the commentary, not to mention the practice for what is supposed to be my down time.  And I can’t do this with my eyes closed.

This past Saturday was my annual Learn To Weave Class I put together for my local weaving guild.  Since January is a down month, the only thing I have to worry about is weather.  It is always a nail biter.  And this year, illness played a factor.  I had two cancellations at the last minute, one three hours before the class, but was able to fill the spots with very happy people from the waiting list.  I own 15 Structo and two 10″ Leclerc four shaft looms. I hold one out in case a loom breaks and  I’ve spent years collecting them.  I refurbish them with aprons, new heddles if necessary, a 15 dent reed if it came with something other than 15 dent, and try to make the experience close to what it would feel like threading, beaming and weaving on a shaft loom.  I created a draft that gives them a gamp with a couple threadings and multiple treadlings for a lovely sampler of what a shaft loom can do.   I do prewind the warp, colorful rug warp, so that saves a bit of time. It is a 6 hour class and students leave knowing if this is a skill they want to pursue.

Usually I get two different responses at the end…  First is, thanks, I’m glad I got to try it but I can’t see me pursuing this, I’ve got so many other things I love to do, or don’t have the space, or the money, or whatever.  But the best response is the second, thanks so much, I am completely hooked, where can I get a loom and how do I keep studying…  In a class of 16 new weavers, we have generated quite a few new and enthusiastic guild members.

So, though January is stressing me out for reasons that are completely my fault because I said yes to too many things, this is a month of bright new beginnings for a new group of weavers.  Check out the photos!  A great way to spend a Saturday in January!  And a huge thanks to my daughter, who team taught with me, my studio assistant who came along because I made her, and the members of the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild who helped keep everyone on track.

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A year of change…

I love that Facebook frequently pops up memories, some from many years ago, it is sort of bittersweet when they involved my husband, but when they involve the process of old work, or fun time with friends and family, they make me smile.  I don’t always share them back on Facebook, but one “memory” popped up a few days ago, and it made me really smile.

First, let me back up and say that in my last post, there were a lot of very generous and lovely comments about where I am at this point in my challenging but entertaining life.  The support from all of you has been a jewel shining in a sometimes dark and frustrating couple of years.  Know that I read and cherish all the comments, especially now that I know about them, because my amazing guru of a tech guy found the issues that have been plaguing my blog for a couple of years.  If someone asks a specific question, I will usually respond to them personally, though I suspect other readers would enjoy the response.

Judy from South East Queensland Australia wrote a rather lengthy comment with all kinds of questions, because she is building a studio and wanted input as to what makes mine happy and efficient.  

“…Also with the high expectation of having a Studio built this year, can you write a post (and pics please)on how your studio functions, what other (than weaving) equipment do you find useful, What is the best way of storing your stash, equipment etc. Do you do your sewing in your weaving studio? What couldn’t you live without? What size is your studio? How many looms, wheels etc do you have,and are they all in your studio, I’m not being nosy I’m just trying to visualize how things will fit in my studio?”

Judy started her comment with a question about the tensioning device she noticed on the back of my new warp as I was beaming.  It is from Harrisville Designs, probably easy to make yourself if you are handy, but I picked one up while I was teaching there a couple of years ago, and have never regretted it.  I had dowels cut to the exact length of each of my looms, and when my daughter moved out and took half of my studio, and I had half to give her, that was the one piece of equipment I couldn’t part with.  She won an award at a fiber show, a gift certificate from Harrisville, and guess what she bought!

Anyway, back to Judy’s comment.  The memory that popped up on Facebook was the series of photos I took when my daughter, who was home from college and I ended up redoing my studio layout to accommodate more equipment and stash than any sane person could use in a lifetime.  I blogged about it December 30, 2012.  You can read the post here.  The end result was a studio where everything fit, but was pretty difficult to navigate around, especially during the warping process of one of the four floor looms, because beams have to drop to the floor, and there wasn’t a lot of floor to drop to.  Here is a sample…

This past year has been one of change for me personally, for obvious reasons, but also change for my house.  I am struggling to hold onto my home, not financially, the house is paid off, but physically, it is a large house for one person, who needs a large studio, with a half acre of ponds and walkways, and gazebos and beautiful decks, all of which were not so beautiful this time last year.  Things were falling apart, the house is a hundred years old, and renovations my husband and I did in 1982 when we bought this old house, all needed to be redone, and it cost a lot of money and a lot of competent people to get it up to code and safe.  

I hired a painter, a family friend actually, who has become my general handyman, and I always have a list.  Trust me.  He has replaced outlets with units that also have USB ports in them, replaced lighting fixtures with state of the art LED lighting, painted almost every room in the house, and finished off areas that were never completed in the original renovations.  He is careful and competent.  The problem is that when you paint a room, the surrounding rooms look dismal and cluttered and cry out for their chance at a redo.  So I redid.

The back half of my studio, as seen from the archway in the photo above, was an add-on we did in the mid 1980’s to give me sufficient room to run a business.  The first floor had a den added on to the back of the house which pre-dated us, and we took advantage of the footprint, knocked off the roof and added an additional 15 feet of space to an existing 10 x 10 bedroom.  It is safe from floods, heated in the winter and airconditioned in the summer.  Can’t ask for more.  Over the years, lighting changed, but not much else.  The room needed major painting, but there was no way I was moving any of that crap out of the back half of my studio until I move from the house or die.  But the front half, viewed from the newly painted hallway was cluttered, dismal and depressing.  You can’t see in the photo that the walls were in really bad shape.

While I was at Siever’s last year, I had my contractor and my assistant work together to move out the stuff in the front half of my studio, and when I walked in the door I nearly cried.  It was beautiful, calm and organized, and inviting.  I look forward to many years of creativity.  More on that in a minute…

Sidebar… The biggest change was that when my daughter moved out last January, she took my largest loom with her.  That cleared a huge amount of floor space.  I also moved one of the smaller looms and my entire office area to my bedroom, which was oversized and had contained not only our sleeping area but my husband’s large and cluttered office.  All of that has been cleaned out and dismantled and my simple office and bookcases for my artbooks, one small floor loom, one of my two spinning wheels, and a round table in the corner for doing water color painting, lacemaking, designing, or just doodling, took a lovely spot in the house, brightly lit, opening onto the balcony, and made it into my own.  It is probably the only room in the house my painter didn’t paint  because I’m attached to the lace border my sister’s stenciled for me back in 2002, the weekend before I had a mastectomy.  We did find matching paint, thank you Benjamin Moore, so any touch ups can keep the walls fresh and clean.

Back to the newly renovated studio.

From the hallway when you walk into the studio, it is bright and uncluttered.  High wall cabinets were replaced with IKEA Hemnes units, which are wider and deeper than the Billie units in the bedroom photos above.  Glass keeps everything dust free, and all my technical books, Burda pattern magazines, and all 15 Structo looms now have a place that is tidy and organized.  I use floor standing OTT lites over the looms, because, well you can’t get any better true daylighting than focused OTT  lites.  All of my table looms are sitting on a surface that allows me to actually weave on them should I actually have a warp on to weave!  I keep a small adjustable table, or a plant stand by the loom for my tea, and oft used tools that I don’t want to keep in the loom bench.

The back half remained unchanged but less cluttered.  The cutting table moved back to the original position pre December 2012, it is a lovely height, with old kitchen cabinets built into the base, and I have a 2 yard rotary cutting mat on the top.  There is always a project on the surface, it is the one place I’m pretty diligent about keeping clear, because a two yard cutting table is no good if you can’t get to it.  There is also my ironing system, a gravity feed professional iron at the back of the studio on the window wall.  Sadly I have to always keep the shades drawn because it is an east facing exposure and the morning sun can do a number on yarns and fabrics, fading is not an option.  But if I’m doing a lot of ironing…

The stash on the left wall uses very old particle board shelving I first bought back in the mid 80’s, and the best thing besides the adjust-ability of the shelves is that the shelves are 16″ deep.  Plenty of room to stuff yarn cones and fabrics, swatch binders and notions.  At some point this year my assistant and I will cull through all the debris on the top of the units, eliminating much of what’s there, and I am looking forward to that.

The right side of the back half of my studio has a large worktable, which is  really a large desk, with a table loom and the serger, and in the corner my lovely wonderful Janome 6600, which I’ve had since 2006 and will go with me to the grave.  I know the corner looks dark, but trust me, one of the last things my husband did for me before he got sick was to install copious amounts of under the cabinet LED lighting that I can engage when I want to actually see what I’m doing.  And there is an OTT lite there too.  The back corner of that wall has my stash of hand dyed skeins, and buried in the corner is the proverbial barrel that every weaver needs to hold sticks and assorted tall slender things that well, every weaver needs.  And in the middle of the work table is a Himalayan salt lamp, because, well, you can’t have enough serenity.  Does it work?  I have no idea, but my husband would pick them up with Groupons and I have them all over the house.  The warm orange glow is a respite from the constant barrage of blue light devices, and there is a calmness about my house that is centering and welcoming.  

And so, what a transformation in the last year, and what a transformation from 5 years ago.  Judy I hope this answered some of your questions.  If I were building a studio, I’d make sure electric outlets were at counter top height.  Mine are not in convenient locations requiring snakes of power strips all around.  Lighting is critical, and a place for everything.  If it doesn’t fit, you don’t need it.  Really.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.  I’m sticking to it.  Check back this time next year to see how I did…

Stay tuned…

 

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