TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Artist in Her Space: Creative Essence

Many years ago, my mother gave me a cute ceramic wall plaque that said something like "Creative Minds Mean Messy Spaces". Well, it's true in my case. I tend to let things pile up. And, I have a lot of stuff. Sometimes I think I would find freedom in just walking away from it all. If I did, I know that I would just start accumulating supplies all over again! A quilter needs her stash, a painter needs her paints, and we all find treasures that to someone else might just be trash.

I put the word out that I wanted to see people's creative spaces. I think it's important for everyone who is making things to have a space that is theirs for their work. I was extremely pleased with the response. It's so interesting to see how each woman (these all happen to be women) claim their corner, their room, their studio as her own. Some are neat and tidy. A few are so beautiful I would be afraid to sneeze in them. Others, like me, pile it up to the ceiling!

The photos are interspersed with quotes that have nothing to do with the images before or after them. I just thought it would be interesting to see these words on space and art mixed in, kind of creating a collage of thoughts and places. Visit the studio links to see what the final product is of each space! Can you guess what they make by how the studio looks?

Most of the photos will enlarge if you click on them...

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
Henry Miller (1891 - 1980)


Although I am no longer in this space, it is one that I loved for 2 years. What you don't see is the view onto my garden that I designed and created as well (rock walls and a small pond). The only down side was that this work space was in my bedroom that I took over for a small studio. I'm still in the process of moving so next time; new picture.

Northern California, USA

Art is making something out of nothing
and selling it.

Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)

There ought to be a room in every house
to swear in.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)


Well, it so happens that we are just finishing my new studio. You can see a large design wall in the back ground. There will be a light table and the cutting table will be on lockable wheels so it can move about the room. I will be teaching classes at home, so there is an outlet in the floor under the large cutting table where everyone can put their machines. Great lighting with track lighting and another wire fabric rack to still come.

Location: Marysville, Washington, USA

At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me that no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important.
M.C. Escher


As a firm believer in color therapy, I love my work space....bright, happy, and filled with artwork from women I admire. Sadly, it only looked this good for the photoshoot....normally it is chaos. When the desk is actually clear, I use it as my creative work space. Lately I've been messing around with jewelry, trying to figure out a good wire wrapping technique. The computer (an eight year old PC) sits to the right of the chair along with the printer/scanner/copier. Most of my correspondence and other computer work is now done on my MacBook found in the living room next to my favorite chair. With the addition of the laptop, the need to be in my real office has diminished considerably. It still makes me happy though.

Central Oregon

Believe it or not, I can actually draw.


I am definitely NOT a morning person. So, this light-filled, east-facing room with the adjacent outdoor terrace would fabulous to work in - IF I were truly awake and at my creative best! This room doubles as our living room, so imagine a sofa, table and overstuffed bookcases in the opposite corner of this 13' x 18' space. And plastic bins full of fabrics, beads, yarns and such stacked high behind a door in the next room. The old tile floors are great to spread things out on once I roll back the kilim, and that trunk in the corner is not usually that uncluttered! The worst thing about this room is that those double doors are the only source of natural light, so afternoons are too dark to work here. I don't open my shop in town until well after lunch, so I work here at home (along with a BIG pot of coffee) on various textile related projects til then. My Singer sewing machine, purchased here in Turkey about 8 years ago, actually has the option to run without electricity with an old fashioned foot treadle. Very handy if the power's out, or we decide to become real nomads one day and live in a goat hair tent...

Selcuk/Ephesus, Turkey

I see more and more that my work goes infinitely better when I am properly fed, and the paints are there, and the studio and all that. But have I set my heart on my work being a success? A thousand times no. I wish I could manage to make you really understand that when you give money to artists, you are yourself doing an artist's work, and that I only want my pictures to be of such a quality that you will not be too dissatisfied with your work.
Vincent van Gogh


After years of finding space by an armchair or on a kitchen table whilst bringing up 2 children who seemed to take over ALL my house during there formative years I promised myself a studio in my garden with room for knitting yarn ,painting table ,etc etc you get the picture.
So now i have the studio in the garden the kids are grown i can Please myself what i do and guess where i do my best work ????? when sitting in my armchair or doodling at the kitchen table so there you go it makes a great store room but i do n ot work in there all the time .having said that i do love to be in there with the buttons ,silks, wools ,cottons, haberdashery bits ,jars of needles, sewing machines ,sketch books, paints and hearing the rain on the roof or the wind making the weeping cedar bang on the window and scare me.
'In truth be careful what you wish for you just might get it'

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Twyla Tharp


I had this studio space for 5 years, here in Melbourne, in the city. It took me those 5 years to get the space looking how you see it in the picture....a collection. Things I have received as gifts from people, things that I have found in junk stores & from my travels. I love opp shops & second hand stores. I collect sculptures from my travels...Mexico, Italy , Indonesia. (I lived in San Miguel De Allende in Mexico for 5 months. I brought back loads of trinkets depicting 'tribe'...papier mache, ceramics, drawings. I also love Bali. You can see the carved wooden flying mermaid suspended from the ceiling in the photo. The studio was a representation of me.... Much of the trinkets, dolls (I collect these too) are depicted in my paintings & drawings.
I had to shut studio in order to move on, to go overseas. I feel a need for new inspiration for my artistic endeavors.
I have an affinity for Mexico...I will be travelling back to San Miguel De Allende. I feel this way because I'm so drawn to the art & culture. I love the richness & opulence of the festivities. I had the priviledge of being part of the Day Of The Dead in Patzcuaro. I sat in the candle lit cemetary with the locals of the island of Janitizio, was incredible. I also took part in the 'Posada De La Navidad' in San Miguel DeAllende...a celebration of Christmas festival.These are the experiences which have influenced my artwork. My work is also very personal. I don't really consider it to be decorative so to speak....even though it may look 'pretty'. Its a depiction or interpretation of my childhood memories...ficticious/fantasy characters such as 'Merman'....I spent much time playing alone as a child, so I would sew & draw by myself. I also depict my loved ones, people in my life, my experience with them, happy or painful. My drawings& paintings depict feelings of happiness, grief, loss, & joy. So there you have it! This may give you some idea what I'm about....


Melbourne, Australia

Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass. Fran Lebowitz


This is my humble and crowded studio I refer to it as the wolf den. My little studio is a 10x10 bedroom. I have supplies in here for everything from painting, drawing, digital work, sculpting, shipping, and paper supplies. I somehow managed to fit in a "dorm" sized recliner (which I'm hardly ever in!) and an Elliptical machine. I fit all my electronics like the computer, its equipment, and the TV, DVR, and Stereo into my little closet cove. I wish I had more room of course, a walk-in closet for storage, and larger windows for better light.... but it works!

Links: http://weblog.xanga.com/JadedWolfStudios

Fresno, California, USA

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.
John Updike


What I love most about my 12' x 22' studio work space is this very large table that my husband builtfor me 16 years ago. It's 4' by 10', there is a shelf under it the same size and floor space under that. I have concrete floors since it's a converted garage. So, for warmth in the winter months, I need carpet. Next on my wish list is to get new carpet. My other favorite things are the three cushionedmats I bought from a beauty supply business. They have made a difference in how my legs feel at the end of the day.

Paducah, Kentucky, USA

Art is a kind of illness.
Giacomo Puccini

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.


We live in a 100+ year old house. It still has so much charm and character, but it's been updated in all the right spots, like the kitchen and baths. My studio is in the dining room right now, so I can get some work done during the day while staying home with my two small children. Most of the time it's pretty messy, with piles of fabric and scraps around because I keep things out while I'm working, since I usually only have a few minutes at a time to jump on projects. But, I think it has just the right mix of traditional and modern, old and new that I instill in my creations.

Links: www.oliveandollie.etsy.com

I'm just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there's one thing that's dangerous for an artist, it's precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and all the rest of it.
Federico Fellini (1920 - 1993)


I used to have fairies at the bottom of the garden, they lived quite happily with my return to nature corner of the garden along with the butterflies and spiders. I then decided after a very long spell away, to return to textiles after a parenting class had taught me to do what used to make me happy. I had taken over the whole of the living room with all my bits and pieces when it became obvious I needed a separate workplace. So this is my shed at the bottom of the garden with the chaos of too many things being dumped after demonstrations and not enough time to tidy away. I love my own workspace but I have found being in my shed a little isolating from the rest of the family. I have a lovely view across fields to the Exe estuary though, I think I am quite spoilt. I try to post regularly on my blog with my latest creations and discoveries, especially now I have finished the City and Guilds course. Keep stitching , Adele X

Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom

It doesn't matter if people are interested. It's about you taking your stuff and shouting out into the void.
Jadelr and Cristina Cordova, 07-11-2006


I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my studio! I am a compulsive organizer. I get crazed while creating and make a gigantic mess until I complete my project, and then it all gets put away, maybe not right away..... My studio is my "sanity site." I can be me without any holding back. I sew, I paint, I pound on metal, I knit, I collage, I glue, I scrapbook, I embroider, I felt, and so much more!

www.lindalynch.com http://www.picturetrail.com/lindalynch
Location: Couer D'Alene, Idaho, USA

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

Thomas A. Edison (1847 - 1931)

Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.
Stephen Leacock (1869 - 1944)


Space.............. the final frontier.

This is a collage of my space. This was prior to the 'big clean up". I had a studio built onto the house at the end of 2006, fully completed (with bamboo flooring, yum) by Feb 2007. Within a period of 3 months, I had outgrown it. Prior to that time, for at least 8 years, I had traveling studio space. It moved wherever I was comfortable, the dining room bearing the brunt of it. This last July I decided to split up my studio.... the real impetus was an 18 year old daughter who had vacated her room. I swooped in and made it mine. Now I have my studio where I do my paperwork and finishing work on my pieces as well as photography and shipping and I have a room for inventory and a wall to display a lot of the hand dyed yarns that I use. I am not a neat worker. In fact, once I cleaned up the studio and the inventory room, I could not create anything. Hence, my 'space' reference in the title. I work well with the "Big Bang Theory". As soon as I started bringing things in and laying them on the table in the studio, hanging them on hooks, placing them on cabinets, draping them on my chair, etc., pieces started to come together. If it is clean and tidy, I can't work. My brain is the same way. It is rarely, if ever, clean and tidy. It moves fast, makes connections on the cuff, searches out specifics and bundles ideas up so that I can use them. My work space is the same way.

Location: (She's in California, USA)

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,
what is the significance of a clean desk?

Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)


I love that i have a space to mostly call my own, but it is too small, especially when the kids are in there with me. My hubby says to ban them from the room, at first I didn't do this, they make me feel so guilty when I don't let them in, but now I really have to - they just make too much mess and take up too much room and distract me way too much (again with the guilt).

My favourite things in the room are my sewing machine and the fold out table that my dad built for me. It is at bench height rather than desk height so I can stand up and work when I want too - I really need a drafting chair as well, but it wouldn't fit in the room.

My dream studio would have a table for the kids, heaps of storage and display space, room to spread out a whole quilt and some nice comfy chairs so that my husband could sit and have a cuppa with me in there. I think my hubby should get me that dream studio for my big 4-0 this year!

Links: http://fiberartsmixedmedia.ning.com/profile/VickiDunk
Townsville, Australia

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924)


I love my workspace! It's right in the middle of all the family commotion. It's so inspiring for me to be with my family while I'm creating. The house we live in is a 1915 era cottage and all of the wodwork is original. The little table that I keep my newest paintings on is actually my grandmothers old sewing table, with some vintage luggage next to it that I store supplies in, and I have another corner by the window that I've placed a comfy chair and table that I can paint at. I really couldn't ask for more; I love it!

Links: http://www.hoydendesigns.com/
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA). It's busy, but there are so many wonderful things close by that you can always find something fun to do.

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987)


As we have a web shop you can say our work place is mainly the cyber world. But we have an office, where we have the stock, and also in one corner a show room where our customers can come and try to see how to carry their baby. What we like most is when we go out and meet our customers during trade fairs or special events.

Links: www.watatu.com
Vsterhaninge, Sweden

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)


Caryl didn't submit a statement about her space, but she is a dear friend of mine and I know that this is her dream come true. Visit her website to see the rest of her wonderful space (and her gorgeous work!).

Links: http://www.bryerpatch.com/wkshops/BryerpatchStudioTour.htm

Paducah, Kentucky, USA

My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and the most absolute freedom imaginable, freedom from violence and lies, no matter what form the latter two take. Such is the program I would adhere to if I were a major artist.
Anton Chekhov, 1888


Well, finally there is my space. Hmmmm... that phrase has been taken, hasn't it? This photo shows what would have been the dining room in a "normal" house. Ha! This is where I sew and where I pack product from online sales. These plastic bins you see are in every room except kitchen and bath. The computer is in the bedroom. I share my space with four monster dogs. That's Juba, there. It's a constant war against chaos. Unlike DreamWoven, who says she thrives in it, if things get too out of control, I can't think straight. I long for a wall where I can pin up queen size fabrics, for a table big enough to spread a large quilt out and more than anything, a space which I can close the door on. I feel kind of guilty because so many people around the world have so much less and I want so much more. But, on the other hand, the whole state of Kentucky has less people than metro-Chicago, where I came from, so there is room to spread out here. All I know is that home is where my stuff is!

www. the page you are looking at (Fiber Focus)
Location: Paducah, Kentucky, USA

Note: Whew! This took a lot longer than expected. Please let me know if I made any mistakes. It was a challenge keeping everybody's info straight!



  1. Great post Rachel. It was fun to look at other studios...

  2. ha! i loved looking at each and everyone of these spaces.... and your choice of quotes was excellent! we (us humans) are all such a diverse group.

  3. Great post, lots of fun to see all the spaces, I "shoulda" participated! :-)

  4. Very nice, I feel like you have all welcomed me into your home and studio.

  5. You ALL cheated by cleaning up!!! And what's with everyone having actual work rooms? I'm still working out of my bedroom. Someday... someday! :)

    Excellent job on the blog post; love all the quotes!!


  6. I enjoyed reading this. althoug now I am suffering a bit from studio envy (my space is a converted linen cupboard). Although I suspect that I would be like Chrissy day - if i had a space of my own Id still do everything on the kitchen table and my studio would just be a storage room.

  7. Wow! Thank you for including me! I loved looking at everyones spaces.... yes, we all did clean up 'a little' heh... ok, I had to clean up alot... even the DOG was having trouble moving around! I wanted to crawl into every picture and touch and feel. Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this. Much Fun!
    ~~Christina R. Martinez, of JadedWolfStudios ~~


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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