Tag Archives: studio organization

What do other people do

We artists spend an unusual amount of angst on the (dis)organization of our studios! Do other fields worry about how messy their space is? For example, does Dr. History Professor worry about the number of book piles and papers leaning around his or her office?

I recently read a funny post (I’m so sorry– I don’t remember where I read it or I would credit the author.  If you know who this author is, please let us know!) regarding this topic.  Her solution was to create a sort of Artist’s Retirement Home.

I’m paraphrasing, but the idea was to get all of us together to live and create in one huge building with all of our stuff.  With a multitude of artists, everyone would be welcome to use anyone else’s stash/products. The hope was that some other artist would know how to use at least one of the mystery products you had to buy, but then promptly forgot how to use the product/what  project it was intended for/where you saw the product’s application.   What a great idea!  Sign me up!

The kicker of the post was, that even with all of the imagined space, we each would end up with only a 12″ x 12″ work space.

Yesterday, one of my fav customers and I were chatting on the phone, moaning about how busy we are, how much work the holidays are, especially with young children!  Yes, it is magical; yes, it is fun; yes, we are aware that the time with a young child is precious.  It’s also a mondo amount of WORK!!  As this lovely woman is coming over today to pick up a finished quilt, I laughingly–but dead-seriously– warned her about the state of my studio.

And then, we talked longingly about having more creative breathing space when our studio tables are at least semi-tidy.  And so, this blog post, which contains NO PHOTOS  DON’T EVEN ASK!!, is dedicated to a resolution:

Over the next week, I promise to spend 10 minutes EVERY DAY clearing or cleaning my space.  7 little days, 10 minutes.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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Hand dyed fabric day

What’s a fun thing to do when it’s 100 degrees out? Invite your friends over to dye fabric! No sitting around the pool for us– oh no, let’s race around sheathed in rubber gloves and face masks.

I hosted a dye day with some of the members of Fibervision, my Santa Barbara CA-based art group. In attendance were Judy Rys (of Color My World), Lora Martin (Loreclectic), Linda Cassirer (you’ve seen her work on the cover of QNM), Mary Norton (applique artist and beader extraordinaire), and me.

Oh, and my 2 kids, 2 of their friends, and just to add to the general mayhem, the gardener decided that Saturday would be a good day to take out the dying pine tree in the back yard. So we had nice background noise music, too.

Even with all of that chaos, we ended up with some gorgeous fabric! I spouted off the few dyeing facts I know (mainly because Judy asked a million questions. For someone so adamant about NOT buying more products, she sure is interested in the dyeing facts of life!)

Here we are, mixing up dyes:

I’m on the left, with Linda and Mary mixing, and Judy putting some fabric in or taking some fabric out of the soda ash bath in the background.

Gosh, I hope we’re dyeing enough fabric! (gosh, I hope it all fits in Lora’s car! I kept getting emails about BOLTS of fabric showing up. I thought they were joking…):

Please note that this represents only ONE area of tubs and the photo was taken early in the day. Soon, there were tubs lined up on the other side of the patio, all along the outside of my studio, and on the other side of this lot of tubs. Lots and lots of tubs. Wheeee!

We are mixed media artists, so we also dyed papers and coffee filters:

You don’t have to do much to paper to make it gorgeous– just blot up some dye puddles and you have instant color!

I didn’t dye much fabric, because I was more interested in getting the girls hooked in the dyeing process. (Shhhhh, don’t tell them!) Promise I’ll share some of my dyed stuff tomorrow.  Plus, look for the upcoming tutorial on how I dye fabric!

Meanwhile, my studio clean up has run aground for a while. I was able to get most of the nonsense up off of the floor and table, and I got all of my cabinets organized:

It was fabulous to open a cabinet and be able to pull out a few tubs that contained all of my dye product.

I have 3 shows to get ready for this Fall, and so I need to get back to creating. The studio feels much better now– and I created happily all day Monday. As for the studio clean up, it will continue, and I’ve gotten far enough so that I can do it in bits and pieces (go through my file cabinet, re-order my beads: tasks instead of big looming overwhelming projects!) Thanks for sticking with me during the process– I know, I know, I owe you photos!

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How to make an ironing board topper

As I delve deeper and deeper into mixed media, adding more and more supplies and projects to my list of art projects, I find that my studio becomes ever more filled with piles. Where does one put a pile? On top of one’s work table. Where do the other piles live? Right next to the first pile. Sigh. It’s a mess, I tell you! Now that I’m in a cleaning frenzy, life is getting less pile-y at Wild Onion Studio. That won’t always be the case though, and I want to share my secret work space with you all!

When the piles get the best of my space, where do I work?

On top of my ironing board, of course.

When I lived in Chicago, I had a teeny room in my house in which to work, and my ironing board was the only “table” I had. Now that I have a whole big studio, I have hung on to that habit. However, now I have this amazing ironing board topper that measures 22″ x 60″,  made by Mr. Wild Onion for my birthday about 6 years ago. It has become one of my favorite studio tools, second only to my Gammill longarm machine.  Due to the 22″ width of the topper, I can iron fabrics without having to work around the pointed end of the original ironing board; I can also put my cutting mat on top of it, and use the surface as a cutting station!

Here’s how my clever DH constructed the topper:

  • Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood 60″x22″. This size is light enough to pick up off the ironing board, big enough to press yardage by the half yard without scootching the fabric all over the board.
  • DH sealed the wood by giving it 2 coats of paint, top and bottom. I don’t think this is necessary, but he was giving this to me as a birthday gift, so he felt that he needed to pretty it up a bit
  • Lay your existing ironing board on the bottom side of the plywood, with the ironing board against the plywood to use as a template. Mark around the ironing board with a pencil.
  • ** my ironing board is already finished, so for your purposes, please ignore the wood planks and the muslin! Yours won’t be in place yet.
  • Cut 5 pieces of 1 .5″x .5″ x 14″ of wood plank. Is 1.5″ x .5″ a standard size for a wood plank? I don’t know. I’m also guessing that the 14″ lengths had something to do with that wood piece coming in a 6′ length. What I’m trying to say is, don’t stress out on these sizes!
  • Nail one of the 14″ pieces of wood along the line drawn at the straight back edge of your ironing board marking. These wood pieces will keep the topper from slipping off your ironing board.
  • Nail two of the 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the tapered front edges of your ironing board marking.
  • Nail the remaining two 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the straight sides of your ironing board marking. These 2 steps keep your topper firmly in place when you snug it on top of your ironing board.
  • Important note: make sure to nail the inner edge of your 14″ pieces of wood along the drawn line of your ironing board marking. You can even nail the pieces a bit outside of your marked line. DO NOT nail the outer edge of your 14″ pieces of wood to the drawn line or you will not leave enough space for your ironing board!
  • Cut a piece of 100% cotton batting and 100% cotton muslin 64″ x 26″. Layer both batting and muslin on top of the topper. Fold about 1.5″ over the edge of one long side of your topper; attach to the underside of the topper (the side with the 14″ pieces of wood) with a staple gun. Pull the opposite edge of the batting/muslin over the opposite edge of the topper, staple.
  • Repeat above step on the short sides of your topper.
  • Continue smoothing the batting/muslin over the edges of the topper, stapling every 2-3″ to secure your new ironing surface.
  • You can add fresh muslin on top of this batting/muslin combo whenever you need to clean up your surface. Alternately, if you get fusible on your muslin surface, it’s a snap to rip off just the yucky muslin, leaving the batting stapled on the topper. Repeat the stapling steps with clean muslin.
  • Put your ironing board at a comfortable work height. Now you just place the topper on top of your ironing board, snugging the ironing board inside the area defined by your attached 14″ wood pieces. Make sure the ironing board sits within the confines of your nailed planks for stability!

I have become a convert to pressing on a hard surface; I find that the pressed fabric really does keep a sharper, more accurate crease. This is particularly important when pressing seams for quilting. As a bonus, the harder surface makes a nicer work space, should you plop down your cutting board and rotary cut some fabric.

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