Studio as a Safe Space

My studio is currently undergoing a long-overdue purge. I've officially declared war on the clutter stacks and stashes and they are waiving their little white flags in surrender. So far, I've managed to donate four bags of fabric, one box of craft supplies, an extra sewing machine, and enough other oddities to fill my car trunk and make a run to SCRAP. Oh, the power of creating space in our homes so we can create space in our heads. Yes, yes. My spring deadlines stacked in such a way that I wasn't able to reorganize between projects. As a result, my studio started to feel more like creative dumping ground than a place to make, craft, or actually create.

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.



  1. Today, I celebrate you and all you are. The past few weeks here has served as a little airing out of the soul for you, it seems. I am so happy you have been busy and keeping true to your studio motto. We have seen your studio, seen it purged and then again. We love what comes out of it. I kind of feel like our studios/offices/work spaces are a part of our soul and we are the curator.
    You seem to have to have control, and I love that. I fly by the seat of my pants so much, I leave it to that dear old husband of mine to worry about the Cheerio on the stair, the dishes and the balances we have on our credit cards.
    One thing stood out to me in your blog. You said, "And I am committed to keeping this space fresh and letting it evolve with the rest of my life" I read it how it was intended, i.e. it melds with what else is going on in my life. you can also read it as the remainder of your life. I think with the word committed in the sentence, it pretty much sums you and your art up.
    Sometimes I see your Instagram posts, or see you here with your family on a Tuesday, and think "wow, that's wonderful." On an ordinary day, there you all are. Together. Your life is completely intertwined and one aspect plays off the shadows of another. It's great. You get fresh air. You see the sun and you notice it's there. Today, I celebrate you.

    1. Dearest Lady Beth: I am grateful for your good cheers. For your celebrating me. For your visiting here. For your noticing. For your welcoming. For your being YOU. Yes, yes, yes. xoxo


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.