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…