Saturday, March 12, 2011

Studio make over and the making of a sewing room

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long post!

Not so long ago I showed you how I turned my dining table into an art journaling station. I am still pretty pleased about that, but of course once you get going with things like this the mind starts to ponder even more possibilities to change things around. I blame RicĂ«, I blame Lynne Perella's wonderful book on studio spaces, I blame the flickr group The Everyday Studio, I blame anybody who ever posted a video tour of their studio on youtube, I blame myself. But hey, I'm not accusing anybody ;-) Whoever is to to blame, I have been thinking about my studio. A. Lot.

First, let me say there is/was nothing wrong with my studio. I know I am pretty fortunate to have one at all and I am even more fortunate that it's a reasonable size for what I do (15 m2) and that my stuff mostly fits in there. I know there are people who have to work from their kitchen table and clear the stuff away when it's dinner time and I know that some of you are happy to just have a shelf to yourself. So I am quite spoiled already.

But I have been thinking about how I am even more fortunate than I realize and have not taken enough advantage of it. I live alone in a regular row house with three bedrooms and until recently I basicly used only one room to make art. Why? I guess I was blinded by the fact that I had a studio in the first place, I don't know... Making the art journaling station was a big step forward. Now it's time to move on to even bigger things.

So..yesterday I took a day off for a little (big?) makeover project in my house. The goal: to rearrange some things in my studio and (the best part) to make an actual sewing room! I thought this might take me two days, but I finished it all in one (be it a long one).

Let me do it the way the professionals do it and show you some before pictures:

One is already shown above and shows my studio about a week ago while I was working on a set of mixed media paintings/collages. More about those later in life, they are not finished yet, but you can see some sneak peeks here and there ;-) Here's the things I wanted to change:

First of all this little piece of furniture stored a sewing maching, an old one I never used anymore. I wanted to make that cabinet suitable for my new sewing machine and leave it open so I always have acces to my sewing machine when I want to. But that wouldn't work in my studio, so it had to move to somewhere else.

The second thing was the presence of all these blue boxes that I got once when I temporarily lived in an apartment with very little space. There was still some stuff in there from ten years ago! They needed clearing out. They needed a new purpose.

And finally there was the case of the overflowing shelf with journals! I swear not one more journal would have fitted in. They needed a new home. Of course I connected this problem with the soon to be empty boxes and ideas formed...

Now here's the uprofessional thing: I forgot to take pictures of the before situation in my soon to be sewing room! I totally meant to take them, but I was so busy clearing things out and moving stuff about that by the time I remembered, the room was already half empty. Let me just say it is a smal room that held a comfy chair and a book case and I dubbed it my reading room, but....I never ever sat there!

So to work I went and that meant going through a lot of stuff. Most stuff was in the boxes of course, even though during the years I had taken many things out. Whenever you do a project like this things always have to get worse before they get better. Soon my studio looked like this:

(I have no idea what that white thing in the bottom is!)
Let me tell you that that was not the only garbage bag that got filled! I tossed so many things, some were easy (ten year old porcelain paint anyone?), some were hard (handmade cards, old paintings). But it felt good to get rid of stuff and see more and more empty boxes around me. The stuff I wanted to keep I put in a big plastic crate to find a home for  later on.

When the boxes were empty it was time to go through all my journals. So I started sorting them chronologically.

I didn't count them at the time, but looking at the picture I counted over fifty books already and that's not even all of them! They span about fifteen years of writing and art journaling. It was tempting to go look through all of them, but I resisted the urge in order to save time. But it sure made me happy to see all those books!

Well, I worked and worked and cleared out and rearranged and moved furniture about and at the end of the day I had my very first real sewing room and here it is:

It's a little hard to take good pictures of it, because it's such a small room, but as you can see I moved the little cabinet from the studio into this room, opened it up and removed the old sewing machine and replaced it with my new one. I also had the brilliant idea to put my ironing bord and iron ready to use in this room, because nothing is more annoying than having to go downstairs and get all that stuff ready just to iron out one little thing you sewed together. As you can also see there is a chandelier hanging there. I let it hang, because I love it so, but I fear my head is in for some very traumatic experiences ;-)

That's the right side of the room. You can see by the ironing board how narrow it really is. The only thing I kept the same in this room are the bookshelves. I had no other place to put them and oh well, books look good everywhere don't they? You can also see that I moved the blue boxes into this room. They now store all my journals and some art materials that I could not let go off, but don't need to have on hand either. One and half box is still empty for future journals.

In the corner next to the door I placed some furniture to hold trinkets and fabrics. There's another little cabinet on the right of the sewing machine. I had tons and tons of fabrics still lying unused and now they are more in the open and ready for art making or any other purpose I think of. And yes, that's my ROD journal lying there with some photo's I want to put in it.

Here's that corner in a little more detail:

I put some books on sewing and fabric in there and the old spice rack I want to fill with beads and other little bits and bobs to decorate fabrics with. The little wicker thingy will be used for more decorative pieces of fabric and small swatches. By the way, most of my furniture consists of hand me downs and thrift store buys. I love hand me downs!

I can't tell you how please I am to finally have a real sewing room!

Now there was of course still the matter of the studio, that was in chaos after all this redecorating. The boxes gone, the little sewing machine cabinet gone, lots of junk lying around. Let's see how that all worked out:

It worked out just fine! There you have it, a whole new outlook on the left wall of my studio. And I am pretty pleased with myself I tell you. See, I a made some wishes come true for myself in here too.

First of all: I now have a comfy chair in this room! Something that I have always wanted but thought was impossible to incorporate. Turns out it wasn't ;-)

Yes, this is the comfy chair from the reading room turned sewing room! Is that cool or what?

If you look closely you can see another little wish of mine coming true:

Yay, I now have a little spot to make tea! Now this is the only thing that I bought in this entire make over process: a second water heater! I have one in my kitchen of course, but now I don't have to drag up and down with cups and pots and stuff. I can just make tea as I work. It's such a little thing really, but it's so big for me at the same time. Yes, I am a little silly, I know!

Well, now I'm at it I might as well show you the rest of the studio the way it is now even though not everything was changed.

Here's my computer desk with my wonderful blue IKEA bookshelves. I love the bold blue color of this furniture. It still makes me happy everytime I look at it, as do the books in it of course ;-)

I moved some things around in the studio as well. Most is invisible to the eye because it's done behind the doors of cabinets, but this chair is in the open:

I know, you can hardly see it's a chair. It now stands where the blue boxes were before. Stacked on top of it are a bunch of old clothes that I wear when I paint. I don't know how some people can paint with just an apron on. I smear that stuff everywhere so I need old clothes that I can just wipe my hand off on if need be (and it need be sometimes, yes). On top of the pile is a left over pillow and a stuffed animal my mother made many years ago. You can also see that after I did all this makeover stuff I put postcards on the wall to liven them up a little.

Now to the other side of the room:

That's a storage cabinet and my old work table which I always thought was way too small, but now is ideal to let things dry or just put something away for a short while to use later. The stuff that was left over from the blue boxes was put in the white boxes you see here. I left them open. I have learned through practice that open boxes invite use way more than closed ones. Dust be damned ;-)

The inside of the cabinet had a little make over too. In here were the journals and the fabrics and they both moved to the other room, so I could rearrange things a little.

The top shelf now holds my photography stuff. I threw away two old compact camera's (with a little pain in my heart I admit) which I never used anymore. The middle is now filled with the magazines I use for collage (these used to be on top of the sewing machine cabinet). The bottom (which you can't see) was filled with fabrics and is now filled with portfolio's, empty photo albums and half done books and stuff like that. You know, work in progress  or stuff to use for another day.

Well, that's all folks. It was a hard working day and it was well worth it. I still have some details to sort out (like how many paint brushes does a person really need?), but the grand scheme of things is done to my liking. I am really happy with this and I hope you enjoyed my little tour.