What I have learned about having a studio space

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Having a studio space has been a dream come true for me. And yet, it can never meet my every expectation. It has been a learning experience. As the OZ saga went — So, Dorothy, what have you learned? Here are a few things.

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1. No matter how large your space is, it is never big enough.

Having a large room, I planned on having several activities going on at once. And sometimes that can actually happen. I do have my serger and sewing machine out on their own table so I can sew at a moment’s notice. I really need them to be out and ready. But the other table surfaces have to serve multiple purposes. And that means I have to cycle through a project and move it all off if I am for instance going to follow up stained glass making with jewelry making. If I had some other places to stow all of the new glass and tools, then that could happen more efficiently. But I don’t. So now I have a dilemma. Either I do jewelry making with some stained glass sharing the table, or I forget about the jewelry. If you know me by now, you can guess that I have been making jewelry on the stained glass space…. Crowded city! But a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do!

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2. Chaos ensues.

No matter how good your intentions may be, even if you start with a big table to work on you end up having about one foot of usable work space. I actually first read this on a fellow crafter’s blog, and I get it! In the heat of the moment, with fiber flying and ideas morphing, the scissors and cup of tea disappear under some gorgeous tidal wave of inspiration, and the there you have it: C H A O S. And so what do I do? I end up working on the kitchen counter, then the living room floor, etc.

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3. It is never fun to clean up.

Even a beautiful studio is no fun to clean. If I had a child available I would pay them to sort this table [of what surely looks like junk] into meaningful piles that can be put away. I muse about the possibility of tipping the table’s contents into the garbage bin. But I just can’t bear to throw away a valuable… raw material!

Yet one can dream…Anything but clean up.

Eventually I get off Pinterest and set the timer for 20 minutes and dash through the motions of organizing. The timer goes off and I get a piece of chocolate. Hey I forgot how fun clean up can be… Maybe I’ll set it for 10 this time… After all it is my game. I make the chocolate-y rules.

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4. Space must be updated periodically to reflect my interests.

Here’s what happens: I am not spending time in my studio. So I must ask myself why? Answer: because I have lost interest in all the projects I am working on that are spewed out on every surface. And I really want to start something new and put those other things on the back burner. Soooooooo, back to the timer and the chocolates. Not a bad system really. I’m not complaining. No, you’re right, it’s not great for the waistline. But if the next time you see me I have gained a lot of weight, you will have know that at least I have been keeping my workspace tidy.

5. It is always easier to read about making something online than actually making it.

Here I have this great studio space, but where am I spending my time? Have you noticed how readily we gravitate to the computer/ipad/internet toy? There we sit in a coma for hours. Shopping for materials also is lots of fun.

Get off your lazy butt and make something! Overstimulation is the hand crafter’s disease!

6. Don’t forget to change the filter in the air system.

It’s so quiet and unassuming that you can forget that it needs attention from time to time. And my filter was actually black before I realized that I should have been vacuuming it and changing it much more frequently. Yikes! I was breathing that stuff.

Speaking of, think about what you are breathing as you sand something, burn something, melt something, tear something. Lots of airborne particles are heading for your nose, your skin. Get a mask, a carbon filter fan, disposable gloves, etc. These are not expensive items. I have noticed that they have come out with little mini filters that you stick in your nose, kind of like earplugs. Of course you can breathe through them! But they might be easier to use and less cumbersome and noticeable.

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7. Chances are yours studio space will never be perfect, but have the basics. Here are my favorites:

Have some storage space. I made an attic area for storage, which has been very important. However it does mean that I have to get on my hands and knees and crawl around up there. I am wondering when that will become impractical for me. But you need some sort of convenient storage.

Lots of plugs are a must. I put 2 floor plugs toward the middle of each end of the room. They are indispensable and I wish that I had put in a 3rd one in the very center of the room. Can’t have enough plugs. I love pulling the table to the center of the room. And then I can plug in my fill in the blank…. whatever tool you are working with. Love it!

Track lighting is wonderful. And I can add more light heads as I wish, and change their direction. The new LED lights are amazing.

Have things on casters so that you can move everything around at a moments notice by yourself. So functional, plus I adore how they look.

Have a utility sink. Super duper wonderful to have. You don’t have to track anything into the kitchen to clean brushes, inky hands, chocolate face and hands, blah-blah-blah.

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Just do it. The moment is now. So I just have to dive in and let the mess be. When inspiration strikes, just grab it and go. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or for perfection. Or even for a studio space to do it in for that matter. We must be creating. If you don’t have a studio, have a craft closet or a craft armoire or a craft drawer for heaven’s sake. Get those supplies and make something super fantastically cool that you love!

Have a creative day ~ Karen 

“Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul — and you answer.” ~Terri Guillemets

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37 thoughts on “What I have learned about having a studio space

  1. You’re channeling me Karen……. I have morphed with current rug hooking project from studio into the house. Cutting at dining room table, and hooking in living room where I’m around “the action”. So, of course, the mess is trailing behind me. Plus, my husband shares the studio occasionally, and currently has all the light blocked out and is using my big easel that my triloom sits on to shoot some stuff. It looks terrible in there, and I just don’t like to use it with no light coming in! As I also do lots of different types of projects, just curious about your take on “do you feel sometimes that there’s just too much going on, where does it all end up, is it worth it, do I need one more rug, bag, knitted thingy???” I’ve gifted everyone at least once! I’m working on something large right now, and I’m thinking “what’s next?” Which could be anything, as I always have lots of ideas. Oh dear…. your post set me off, and I’m just venting. Thanks for reading this lengthy rant!
    xo
    dulcy

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    • firstly, i would find it very hard to share the studio with my husband! on a couple of occasions he was invited in to use a table for a limited time — but that was with strict guidance as to when it should all be gone! and as to your question — yes i often weigh such things as to whether i need another fill-in-the-blank. and what should i really be doing with my creative energies. i don’t need so many things. often i lose interest temporarily in a craft that i don’t feel “the need factor” in it. thanks for bringing this up.

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  2. Oh, my–I can just relate to every thing you said! I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one with a foot (and maybe a half) of space to draw the next pattern, put it on the frame and cut the strips, all in that tiny space–but, hey, if you move anything, you may never see it again, and “it” may only need one more stitch, or spot of glue, or crocheted edge, or what ever to be finished, and you can give it or display it in the perfect spot you’ve saved just for it. Any way I guess we’re all kind of alike, kindred spirits all!

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  3. After hearing about how similarly we all function I”m so grateful that my behavior is normal. I guess that’s all part of the process!

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  4. lov your ideas & I feel exactly as you have written. My yarn knitting has sprung up all over with projects on needes & patterns ready to go. Then there are the balls of yarn scattered to remind me of projects next on the queue. But I always have saved a moment to read your inspirationally blog…keep this going……….

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  5. Oh Karen, I so get what you are saying! One of my girlfriends said I have to many interests, and that is my problem lol I said I just need more space! I have used the timer method for years….but I had not thought about the reward element….gonna go buy some chocolate !

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  6. For years I never had a designated studio space and stored/stuffed under beds, in closets and there was a loom where the table should have been. Now I have a large studio with lots of light – a great place to work. The problem is it is the pass thru to the porch and the basement so hubby is going thru and stopping to see what I am doing.
    Now that there are six looms, space is reduced and I do more than just weave. Storage for wool and fabric, machine’s out where I can work on them and display space for finished work is all a challenge. It can be a mess a lot of times and that is usually when someone drops in the visit the studio. I usually work around the mess and once a project is done do a total clean up. Never thought about chocolate as a reward! I thought working for a little while in a clean space was my reward!

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  7. Karen, this so resonates with me. I would love to have a dedicated studio since my husband thinks my fiber arts have “consumed every room in the house”. It is so much easier to stay with a project (or two or many more) if I don’t have to be constantly putting it away and dragging it out….Chocolate, huh?

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  8. Great post, Karen! And like the others have said so well, it affirms that “we” are all alike! After the show I vended at last Saturday, I cleaned every nook and cranny in my studio before putting everything back in it’s place ~ pretty amazing how much wool dust gathers in and behind things! So for a while ~ it will be clean and orderly ~ it won’t last long but it feels good today! See you soon!!

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  9. Karen,
    So needed to see your post today!
    Does make me feel human. I look at all of that “mess” as projects in progress.
    I am on a journey to lose weight so when I clean ( I wait for a good snowstorm as the two seem to go together!) I will reward myself with $ dropped in a jar. I will buy something outrageous and dreamy. You made me scream with laughter about losing scirrors. I found 18 pair when I cleaned last time!
    Most of all thank you for inviting us into your world.

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  10. Babe, you are my soul mate. Sewing machine and serger facing a knitting machine with talk of jewelry-making and the delicious moment of pulling the first loop of a new rug? You’re killin’ me, kid. 🙂

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  11. I have a tiny house with one bedroom for office/studio and of course it is full so projects tend to migrate to living room/kitchen table. I do have an old mobile home for storage of wool and fabric, beads,etc but that’s kind of full, too. One thing keeps me sane; I have decided that the process is more important than the finished product and so I can sometimes dispose of a project if I am not enjoying the process and pass it on to someone else or recycle it. And I frog knitting projects when they are not successful and don’t feel bad about it.
    Polly in CO

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    • yes, i feel as you do about the process. and also about totally dissembling my knitting and starting anew. after all, if i loved the yarn the first time, i will no doubt love it the second time around! thanks for sharing today.

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  12. Pingback: Some highlights from the past | primitivespirit

  13. I like you! This cracked me up, “Eventually I get off Pinterest and set the timer for 20 minutes and dash through the motions of organizing. The timer goes off and I get a piece of chocolate.” This is honest, and real, and something I have done over the years (minus the chocolate, but now I will!) I can’t believe how often the timer chimes and catches me admiring some fabrics or imagining the next thing instead of being busy.

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