Sunday, October 18, 2009

Studio Girasole

Last week many of my internet friends working in the fiber arts showed pictures of their studios on their blogs. I found it so much fun to see the places that were the beginning spaces for so much exciting art. It was fun to imagine my friends in their spaces working diligently. Some of these were even videos with explanations of where their stashes and supplies were kept and how the storage spaces were made to order for each artist.

So I decided that maybe you might also like to know how I use my space to work. Above is a photo of my drawing table and my major work table behind it. My studio space takes up a little over half of a huge heated sunroom off the back of our house. There are three sets of windows like the one pictured along one long wall. At the ends of the room are two sets of sliders leading to two decks. Above is a slanting vaulted ceiling with three skylights. The room faces the southern exposure and is extremely sunny during the day. In the summer I always pull the blinds to offer a bit of shade and keep the temperature down.

My drawing table faces out the middle set of windows and my butterfly garden. This garden is full of the flowers I love to draw. Sometimes if it is too hot in the studio I just take myself out to the decks with a sketchbook and a lawn chair and draw near the gardens.
Most of the fabrics I use for my quilts are cottons and silks. I use a very deep and large armoire to house most of my fabrics, cottons arranged by color and silks on the second shelf left. Many of my specialty fabrics are in tubs on shelves in the basement. I also have three large containers arranged by color in the cabinets under my work table of scraps too small to fold, ultrasuede, tulle and organzas. The table cabinets also hold all my batting, fusible web, buttons, trims, ribbons, beads and some of my projects. There are four deep drawers in the cabinet which hold all the pins, scissors, and small tools. My threads are in plastic containers kept in a center shelf in the cabinet and also in the drawers of my sewing cabinet.
My workspace is such a wonderful piece of furniture. I used to work full time for a local chain of a fabric store. They closed doors a few years back about the same time we bought this house, so I purchased one of their cutting tables with the cabinets below. You can see that I have a retractable extension to the table which I fold down on occasion to make more room in the space but often I use this space to lay out my quilts and I cut closer to the wall. There is a metal cutting guide on the side closest to the wall which is great for cutting batting straight.

Above the table are two covered cork boards that I use as a place to pin up ideas, cards, photos and whatnots. On one of these boards I have a small piece that I bought from Susan Shie when taking her workshop. Her St. Quilta keeps watch over my space. In this photo you can see the second window that I sew in front of. My Bernina is housed in a standard sewing machine table under the window which also came from the unfortunate closing of the fabric store. To the far left you can just get a glimpse of my work board. It is an 8' x 4' piece of sound insulation covered twice over with white felt. I have yet to screw it into the wall because it is so heavy that it will take three of us to hold it and one to screw it to the wall. To it's left is one of the sliders.

Well, it was not as comprehensive a tour as some of the ones I saw last week but at least you get an idea of where the work I love to do comes from. For most of my time sewing my quilts I have not had the luxury of this room. In my first house, a tenement, I used part of my living space and the dining room table. My second house was a single family but I really didn't have any space for me there either. I used the dining table, which was at that time our major eating table. I had to put up and take down the machine every time I sewed. I got a lot of work done in both of these places and sometimes I wonder how in the world I did it. The two years that I owned my loft space were the most wonderful and expanding years for me to find the artist inside. They planted the seed within me for the desire to continue to value my work space in my life. So when Tony and I were looking for a new home outside the city, a place just for my studio was the most important priority to me.

As I get older, I wonder how long we are going to be able to stay here in this high maintenance home. My biggest fear is the possibility of losing my space again. But I try to take it a day at a time and each day I am in the studio, I consider it a true gift. It's late but I think I'll go sew in the studio now. Hope you enjoyed the tour.


  1. The 'post a comment' segment is now working. Sorry for any past inconvenience.

  2. I haven't finished reading this post yet...but you have me so envious for a cutting table like yours...and then you had to go and tell me that you have an original Susan Shie, ST Quilta to look over your creative spirit...I am doubly envious. And then you say you got to have a work shop with her....In my dreams.
    I have been lucky enough to see an original of Sunsan Shie quilt in a Focus exhibit. I love her extreme embroidery journal style. She is one of my secret mentors. I bought the quilting art magazine with her article in it...and a calendar of hers. It is nice to have people that can inspire us!!
    You are my inspiration today...I visited your flicker page and enjoyed the eye candy.
    Ok going to try to read some more.

  3. Lady luck and my mother. The only real reasons I have anything. The workshop with Susan was a gift from my Mom after two years of taking care of her after she lost her sight and started really getting old. It was there that I saw the piece that I bought, unfinished, and she allowed me to buy it at something of a discount, being unfinished. It is my most prized piece of art. She is just as wonderful as you might expect. If you can get up the money, you would love taking her workshop. She has a blog on blogspot and you can find her at The cutting table came by way of my losing my job because the fabric store I worked at went belly up. It was bought at a very discount price but the most difficult part was moving it - very heavy! Took 6 men to move it. It was just luck that I was in the right place at the right time but I wouldn't have it without having lost my job :(. What you didn't get to read was some of the bad luck I've had. My mom bought me a studio in an old mill, the beginnings of Studio Girasole and I had to give it up for financial reasons and move all my stuff into storage for 3 years. Very painful three years. I'm 53, and there have been fortunate things that have come with time and some unfortunate things. It all balances out. Live well, love, keep positive, and visualize good things coming to you and they will. They may not be what you expect, but you will look back some day and be able to count your blessings.

    Thanks for the comment, I'll be following you too.

  4. Live Well, Love, Keep Positive and Visualize Good Things Coming to You.

    Yes I think learning to live well is the best thing people can learn to do.

    Many have lots of money but are poor in taste and don't live well in my opinion.

    Many are too comfortable and stay in one place and experience on kind of life. They don't live well in my opinion.

    It is the people that have had adventure and seek adventure and live they live well. They collect memories and stories not things.

    I have had gains and loses as well in life. The gains have been as unforeseen as the loses were. But it has been a miracle going on this journey called life. It is all good. It is like the shadows in a painting ...without them there would be no depth. It is like the high lights in a painting, without them their would be no POP.

    I have been studying rugs lately...on gutenburg. In this book on rugs it said this.
    "The rug itself symbolizes Eternity and Space, and the filling or plan is the symbol of the world - beautiful but fleeting and limited." Because that is what a life is and what we put in it and what we take out of it...just like what we decide to put in our art and what we leave out. It is our story.

    I think that this is what the Dug Out quilt has become for me. It was just a UFO project that I thought looked too chaotic...Now it has become a metaphor of the emotional desert that I have felt like I have been surviving in for a long time, (not all parts of my life...just a parent relationship). I am beginning to see where I am and pick out the meaning of this place. This quilt is still revealing things to me...and it is kinda amazing to be able to "see".

  5. Thanks again for your thought provoking comment. "Seeing" is what art is all about, isn't it.