The upside to this purging (and keeping a small home studio I have to purge a few times a year) is that I find treasures I didn't remember stashing. This time I rediscovered this tiny collection of fabric beads I've been making from scrap sweaters, yarns, and fabric strips; I collected small, white, ceramic vases and dishes from all corners of our house to give my tillandsia their proper air plant pedestals, and I even found two pair of denim shorts stashed in the "upcycled fabric" stack that I have promptly reclaimed for this summer's attire. (What was I thinking? They fit like a glove!)
But, perhaps, the greatest treasures that get shuffled and re-shuffled are my books. Admittedly, I am a book collector, and there is something so satisfying about reconnecting with the printed page. I have pulled a few from the shelves including Kate Greenstreet's book of poems, Young Tambling, the latest issue of Kinfolk magazine, Brooklyn Makers by Jen Causey, and the Textile Artist's Studio Handbook to make a new stack next to my computer. The textile book has risen to the top of the stack--I keep collecting textile and crafting books because I love to see how other artists and crafters use the materials I use but how they use them differently. I think this "conversation" is so important to creative work and it can refuel us when we need it most.
In reading through the contents (felting, spinning, knitting, crochet, weaving, printing, dyeing, sewing, quilting, applique, embroidery, crewelwork, cross-stitch, beading) my mind fills with ideas and inspirations for future project. It also creates solutions for ideas I've been tossing around but haven't yet committed. Of course, sewing, printing, and embroidery will stay high on my toolbox go-to list but these other techniques are suddenly tugging at the creative heartstrings: weaving, more dyeing, and cross-stitch. Perhaps, it's finally summer and I just want to play.
I look to my right and see my mother's crewelwork flower basket at the top of my inspiration wall--anchoring that side of my studio to my lineage, my undying fascination with "traditional women's crafts", my own beginnings, and underneath it are rows of images I just adore. Then I look to the left and I see my studio motto, "make things", that I printed from a hand-carved linoleum block and tucked in amongst the various garlands. I look out over my cutting mat, my threads, pencils, rulers, other small tools to the wide window that overlooks the street. Sigh. This is my place. And I am committed to keeping this space fresh and letting it evolve with the rest of my life.
I feel grounded in the center of these things. I read Natalie Chanin's foreword in the textile book and she says, "Our studio is a safe place. It's the place that we as designers and artists go to do our most important work. It is the space where we are able to breathe."
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.