Saturday, October 03, 2009

Virtual Open Studio Tour

Welcome to my 'studio' ! I am participating in the Studios Magazine Virtual Studios Tour. Come in and have a nosy around. If you were here in real life I would give you a pot of tea and some home-made cake but you might have to get that for yourself because this is a long post. If you are in a hurry, skip the words and just look at the pictures- that's fine! If you have any questions I'd be pleased to answer them. But please sign my visitors book by leaving a comment - just your name will do - so I know you've been here as I would like to return the compliment and visit your blogs too.

I put the term 'studio' in inverted commas because I utilise several areas of the house and whilst I do use the term 'studio' from time to time, really I am still dreaming of having a dedicated studio. But until then, this is where I am.....

We live in an unassuming 3 bed semi, bought in 1994, well before I was a quilter and which originally had a small dining area. The previous owners extended and built this single storey dining area which runs off the back of the house. We rather pretentiously call the old dining area the 'library' as it is where Dennis stores his books. Because it is our only dining area ( apart from the more usual trays on our knees) and because it is so visible ( you walk from the lounge via the library to get to the kitchen) I have had to try and come up with a way to create a studio (look no inverted commas - I must be in the zone now!) which (a) can function as a dining room as well when we need it and (b) maintains the look of the house

We bought Billy Bookcases from Ikea with doors for neatness. The books in the library are also on these. They were bought as a cheap temporary solution in 1994 and are still doing their job admirably. This one sits on the left as you go through the arch.

It contains:top (open) shelf - Box with green yarns in, box containing a WiP ( an ANC/ Nelson Mandela themed quilt) Files containing patterns, quilt pictures and articles culled from magazines. Pictures are glued onto black card, articles in plastic sleeves.

CD Rack Cd's. (obviously). This is my entire collection and consists of eighties and South African music in the main. I like music but I have other fabric, I mean, things to spend my money on.

Ikea Wicker baskets Scrim, foils, jute, leads for MP3, camera etc

Fourth shelf down on the left a mock leather box with boxes/ bags of beads in and on top thread boxes with embroidery threads wrapped around paper bobbins. To the right three Really Useful boxes, one for sheers, one for beads and buttons and one for felts, specialist embroidery fabrics etc.

Firth shelf down Box of brown/ neutral yarns and 2 leather boxes with bits of un-assemmbled Project Linus quilts in.

Sixth shelf down Blue yarn box, pink yarn box, box of trims and general doodah's

Bottom shelf - back issues of quilting magazines

The dining room table, covered with table protector functions as my work area. usually an embellisher sits at the far end but it has gone on holiday to my Best Quilting Buddy for a few months. The quilt that is there awaits the binding hand stitching down but I can't show you more yet because it is a gift. I sew on an Janome 6600 Memorycraft and always have the extension table up. The chair is my old office chair from the study (3rd bedroom) upstairs which gives me an ergonomic height the dining chairs do not.

The cutting box on the near end of the table was designed by me and built my my Dad. It has storage for rulers, markers, scissors etc around the edges and gives an ergonomic height for cutting. (I am five foot ten). It is only good for small pieces though because of its size, so if cutting strips from the whole width for example I still use the bigger mat and just stretch from time to time.

On the other side it has 2 Ikea storage boxes ( which are useless if you want the lids to stay on your boxes) which function as rubbish bins/ scrap storage. As I cut I toss the odd bits into one of these which I just slide part way out. There or on the floor. Whichever. If I am quilting ( as opposed to piecing) I can lift the box off onto the floor or down the other end of the table and I get a really fabulous table to stake all the weight of the quilt which is perhaps why I am not fazed by machine quilting King Sized quilts. (that and the extra throat space of the Janome).

In an attempt to create an L shaped layout I bought rolling plastic drawers and put them to the right side of me as I sew.Pin cushion, threads I am using, sharps tin for discarded pins and needles and cups of tea go on top. There is a cutting board on there are very occasionally I use it as a trimming/ pressing area with a mini iron for foundation piecing. It contains: Righthand drawers: Top - machine feet, quiting gloves, machine needles second embroidery samples for C&G Third In progress experimental samples for C&G ( But I don't like what I have done so they may have to go!) Fourth Play products from shows I have not tried yet - like shrink plastic, rubbing plates etc. left drawers: Top - bobbin boxes and seam unrippers Second whole mess of various metallic related products and I am slowly sampling for a C&G wall hanging idea Third Project Linus records (I am a regional co-ordinator although a very quiet one) Fourth - design books and WiPs for kits for The African Fabric Shop.

To my right, backing onto the part wall back into the library is the second IKEA cabinet. It contains: Top open shelf Quilts in the quilting process/ flimsys. Basket of 505 spray, starch and furniture polish ( to get traces of 505 spray off the machine casing).

CD rack. Roving to go with the embellisher which is not here!

Ikea baskets on both shelves _ threads stored in categories: King Tut, masterpiece, YLI Quilting, Superiors Rainbows, Embroidery, Metallic and a box of quilting related DVDs and one of extra roving.

Fifth shelf down has thread racks taken from one of those boxes with them inside. these are fairly useless as they only hold nice thin Gutterman threads without losing space or looking jumbled. Mostly on these are the threads I bought in the first year before I found my preferred brands and I am gradually using them up and will probably then reorganise

The little blue drawers i bought on holiday in Vilamoura, Portgugal years ago in a kitchen shop. they store packets of needles, saftey pins and grommets.

Some of the boxes in this cupboard are empty as I finish up WiPs ready for travelling ( and coming back with new ideas I hope). The bottom shelf has boxes for :fusibles. applique iron and sheet, odd tools and gizmos, interfacings and the magazazine racks store freezer paper A4 sheets, catalogues, show entry forms etc.

This being a dining room there are too many chairs for a studio. I have banished one carver to the Hall where it acts as coat and bag repository. The other is at the end of the table out of the way and the four normal chairs are lined up under this quilt. I wish there were not there but they are and at least I can use it as a bench to sit on from tine to time with a little handsewing and I can store stuff under the seats. All that is there at the moment is extension cords. My rolled Pelmet Vilene and fast 2 Fuse is in the corner tucked behind the china cabinet with my wedding china in ( my, my what a traditional girl I am)! I would move that in a flash If I had anywhere else to put the plates!

The good thing about this room is that I have room to work on big quilts with ease, it is a part of my house as quiting is a part of my life and that all I have to do for guests is roll the drawers and office chair out through the patio doors to the garage, lift the cutting box down and bring the chairs out. On sunny days I like having the patio doors open and it feels almost like quilting outside. I dislike the fact that my fabric is elsewhere ( bear with me _ Ill take you) and that I don't really have other inspiring pieces of art around me. I do have this basket from the African Fabric shop which at the moment contains the part worked lasy daisy stitch sample for my C&G course. The photo frames are of two of the five children we sponsor.

The A3 Pink Pig books I am using for C&G design and sample books sit on top of the china cabinet.

To iron I run an extension cord from under the quit covered chairs out to the library. the ironing board is kept in a cupboard in the hall. the blue rug on the floor is there to cover the iron shaped burn in the carpet where I dropped it. Oops! I also dislike fact that I don't have space for a permanent design board. I do have a large pair of large freestanding boards which clip together to provide board about 6 x 5 feet on a frame smilar to a flip chart easel stand, covered with wadding which I store in the garage and can set up in the libray but I use it sparingly because it impedes Denn's access to his books.If I want to do messy work like dyeing and fabric painting I have to go to the garage which you can see behind my chair. We had one of those de clutter days were you put every single item in the garage on the drive and sort into piles to keep and to chuck. Dennis went in for a cup of tea and when he came out I had created a 'wet studio' area furnished with the pasting table and ancient shelves and cabinets that are worse for wear. All my Procion dyes and fabric paints are here

As you can see it is an unholy mess so let's not loiter there. Come back into the house and I'll show you the fabric stash. We have to go upstairs to the second bedroom which is located right over where you just saw the ironing board. This is the major pain of my not-a-real-studio set up. On the positive side I have good storage but I hate that if I need a piece of fabric I have to go and hunt upstairs. I end up bringing boxes down and littering the quilted chairs/ the floor with them just so I have choice as I work. I use baskets to have a place to throw things in that need to go up or down as there is always something in the wrong room.

But, on the other hand I do have another room to use, Come in!

The window is on the right as you come in through the door which is just next to the mirror. The mirror is a sign of my total laziness. My Gran gave it to us years ago and it got put down there and there is stayed. There is a socket behind it and I sit on the floor cushion on the floor to do my hair because that is where the mirror is! This book case houses most of my textile related book collection. (Novels etc are either in my study or up in the loft). The sofa pulls out into a guest bed. The bear on top of the shelves is my first teddy bear from childhood called Edward Montgombeary ( previously known as Teddy Edward). The white table to the side of the sofa collapses and the idea was to store it out of view behind the sofa because its not exactly beautiful. (It is a plastic camping table ordered to be the height I needed for the purposes shown in the photo below) But I get lazy..... and besides it covers the not so beautiful yoga ball too! The wicker baskets were found in a shop in Northern Ireland. One contains batiks, the other fabric from The African Fabric Shop ( have you worked out yet hat I love that shop). The little girl next door likes to come and play in my house and to open drawers etc. She found this basket the other day and, with her hand poised on the top said, "What's in here?" "Open it and see," I told her. She did and her eyes rounded as she whispered reverently, "Treasure!". Treasure indeed!

The wall with the drawers on it to the left as you walk in and the doors facing you. the basket was bought from a Berber woman in Morocco and is none of my art things up and down baskets. The wicker casket has sketchbooks in. The top drawer has some fabrics, threads and trims collected together for a project I might take with me when we travel. Second drawer my Twelve by Twelve stuff and the rest is all workout cloths, yoga blocks etc. On top are more un-read textile related books.

And inside - the stash. The cupboard goes back on the left to the wall so there are lots and lost of boxes in there although you have to pull the visible ones out to get to the back ones. The boxes are too deep towards the back of the wardrobe. I have them labelled and a little cart on the divider wallas to where I put stuff. On the right side of the divider in the boxes are my finished quilts and then some out of season coat storage. There are another 2 shelves you can't see at the top of the cupboard. The rolling drawers have art stuff in and pull out to create....

my mobile design studio space!

Now, the burning question: does it always look like this? Well, I am the words most organised untidy person so no, not always. I tend to make the most of time to do things and I prioritise well. So I will work on stuff right until the moment I have stop and the tidying up can wait until later. I also create in a bit of a mess because I am so focused on what I am doing and the vision in my head that I don't see the scattered products around me. However, I do not like to live in a mess (even though I make them all the time)so it does get tidied up and it certainly helps that I have a very good cleaner who comes once a week, does not complain about stray needles and is great at finding missing things. But to give you an idea: this was my table before I tidied for these photos:

This is my current to-go-back-upstairs- pile sitting in the library.So, I hope you enjoyed that. I'd love to know what bits you like and what you didn't. Do you have any ideas for making my space more art orintetated? Now, I am off to scout around the net and see what other studios are up for viewing! Shall we go together? Here is the list of participating studios. Don't forget to leave me a comment before you go!


Erica Spinks said...

Well I'm exhausted after all that travelling up and down, in and out. But how ingeniously you have hidden bits and pieces. Is Dennis hiding in a basket somewhere, too?

Vicki W said...

You have done a great job of utilizing your space but that cutting box is the bomb! Brilliant design!

Anne said...

Your studio is charming! I especially love all the books you are surrounded with and the cutting box is very special also.

Quirky said...

Wow, and my husband complains about how I have hidden stashes of sewing equipment all over the flat - I clearly need to learn from you! Well done for making the most of every bit of space!

And I'm jealous of the cutting table. At 6', I feel your pain (or at least back pain, when cutting too long...)

Sue B said...

great studio!

Christine said...

I love your big storage cupboard (and does anybody in the Western world not have the great Billy bookcase? I just counted and we have 10 around the house).
The only improvement I could suggest is that you could re-model the entire garage
(ours has never had a car in it in the 17 years we've been here) into a studio. But then, the way stuff takes over you'd probably still need the other rooms as well!
Thanks for sharing, Helen

Quilt Pixie said...

the upside of using so many spaces is you're never very far from creative space :-) I can't imagine the calroies you must burn up and down the stairs to the fabric though.... Sure you can't convince Dennis the library would be better suited to the upstairs? :-)))

Judi B said...

What a wonderfully organized "shared" space you have created for yourself. Love it! Those storage cupboards are wonderful pieces. I am thoroughly enjoying touring as a participant of the Studio magazine Open Studio Tour. Come visit me and lets get acquainted.

Cre8Tiva said...

i so loved the tour of your creative are so organized...please come see mine when you have a chance...i am having a giveaway...hugs, rebecca

Lisa said...

I love the cutting area/box you designed. How clever of you! I love all the organized spaces and your description of yourself as the "most organized untidy person" is brilliant and I think I will adopt it as my new moniker because it fits so well. Thanks!

jill said...

hi Helen, its Jill who sat opposite you at Sandra Meech. How do you find time to go to work & earn money to spend on your organised space? Great new website, well done.

Joyce said...

Hugely interesting and beautifully organised, and perhaps there is an unwritten rule that one is only really supposed to say positive things in blog comments, but my main reaction is:
either move house to somewhere with a big room that be devoted to it and hold it all;
or have a studio built in the garden;
or stop buying stuff and start using up what you've got so gradually you need less space.

Terri Stegmiller said...

Great tour!

Marlis said...

thanks for inviting me (and thanks for visiting my studio!). i see ... your are also an ikea fan ;-). your baskets seem so familiar to me - i have them all over the apartment, they are really great!

Jeannie said...

Thanks for the tour! My 'studio' is scattered about the house also and the dye studio is my potting bench in the garden. I think I need to clean the garage! Have a creative weekend and again thank you.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Touring your space has been such fun, thank you. I love the ingenious way you have managed to combine both studio space and dining space, especially the way you've covered your chairs. Great ideas!
Mary Anne

Wendy said...

I think you've done a great job of making it work without having a dedicated room (nice as that would be!)
That cutting box is incredible!! My back gets so sore, bending over the table!

Lidy said...

Love the way you made the dining room work for you yet still being able to use it for eating as well. What's wrong with taking over the whole house?!

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

Wow, I thought it was the Queen of Quiltland who came visiting my studio this morning. How wonderful!

Your studio spaces are fantastic! I think Ikea must sell a lot of those Billy bookcases. I admit that they do look lovely, especially with the glass doors. My favorite part (and there are quite a few) is how you draped that gorgeous quilt over the four extra dining room chairs to make a bench and storage space. Excellent idea!

Thanks for inviting us in for a visit. Cheers.

Sunflower Design said...

I love your studio/library... what a classic space to create in. Thanks for all the time you put into your tour! Keep creating!

Smullis said...

I love your space. It's so neat and well organized and it looks so comfortable and relaxing. Thanks for sharing.

Kristin L said...

Now, I know your space is not always that neat and tidy, but it really does spiff up well for visitors! A dedicated studio would be great, but you are definitely making teh most of what you have right now -- I think it's fabulous!

Diane said...

What a wonderful tour! You have made good use of the space -- I especially love the table-top ironing box your dad made! You could go on the road selling those, you know! It's wonderful to see where you create so I can picture you at work! And with the wonderful combination of books and fabric goodies, I know I'd feel right at home!

Laura Jane said...

What a lovely tour! Thanks so much Helen - where would the world of craft be without IKEA?

I also love the ironing /cutting/storage box. Great disguise of those pesky dining chairs.

joanlil said...

Thank you for your guided tour. I'm really impressed with some of your storage ideas, and I really like your cutting box.

kathy said...

what a great way to spend a rainy sunday morning...thanks for the tour.

Denise in PA said...

What fun - thanks for sharing. I always loving seeing others' workspaces. The cutting box is fabulous!

Anne B said...

Well I never! What an organised person you are. You've made the best of the space available. You're an example to us all madam!!!

Sheila said...

I too adore the 'cutting box' and would scrimp to buy one if you were to market it for sure! Genius! Very cool also to line up the extra chairs and cover with a quilt - funcion AND display - LOVE IT! I'm having to re-think my space and reluctantly moving it from a place I can close the door on to an open/in the middle of the house locale and it helps seeing yours!

Magpie Sue said...

Whew! I am overwhelmed! And so glad my studio is all in one place! Sorry I don't have any useful suggestions to improve your situation. I love that your little neighbor recognizes treasure when she sees it :- )

Deborah Boschert said...

Most popular word mentioned in all the various studio tours I've been reading this week: Ikea.

Lovely space! I'd love to come over for tea and cake.

Anke Martin said...

Another art fun! Enjoy creating in all your spots, smiles, Anke ;)

Gina said...

You are so neat and organized; you've made it all fit and look so good throughout your house - it is all so inviting! Thank you for the lovely tour!

Shasta said...

Thank you for taking the time to give us a wonderful tour of your studio. Mine is like yours - scattered in several spaces in my house, although I need some more organizing materials. I am hoping to empty some things I already have instead of simply buying more.

Judy said...


Thanks for showing your studio, it's nice to know others have to use the dinning room too.

LLAbbott said...

What a wonderful place to be creative. Yes. It doesn't all have to be in one or the same space. And I would truly love to have a large comfortable chair--let alone a couch--in my little space.

Thanks for sharing your creative spaces. Blessings,

Helen said...

Hi Helen

I think you should print out all the photos you took of all you quilting spaces looking so lovely and TIDY and look at them when the mess is getting your down. Hang on a bit - that will make you feel worse, not better! Oh. Well maybe you can console your self that it was, at one time, picture perfect, shop quality, and looking bloody well fantastic, but right now you are creating and keeping it tidy is only important when you have a virtual studio tour to organise :-)

Tripping overseas time must be coming up fairly soon. I am so looking forward to meeting you.