I love this photo of Sarah Ann Smith. It tells you a lot about her and her artwork. Sarah, a former diplomat, has enriched the art quilting world through her artwork, her writing, and her teaching. Her two latest publications are The Best of Quilting Arts: Your Ultimate Resource for Art Quilt Techniques and Inspiration, edited by Pokey Bolton and The Studio Quilt, No. 6: State of the Art. Learn more about these books on Sarah’s blog.
1. How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
Sometimes I don’t! With family and teaching quilting, creating time is scarce. I try to get chores out of the way as soon as our son is at school, and some days that leaves me time to get to the studio. I tend to do a lot of designing and revising in my head so that when I DO get to the studio, I can use the time well.
2. Describe your studio in five words.
Big! Bright. Colorful. Comfortable. Home.
Looking over the ironing board and cutting table toward the sewing corner. I LOVE my old Hoosier and my books!
Thread–each spool is a line of color waiting to shade, define, shape, create! Yes, the antique spool chest is nearly full, and yes, the boxes underneath have thread, and yes, I really do use it all! It’s just to the right of my sewing tables.
4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
The dining room table was the worst. The one I have now is the best!
Love Love LOVE my design wall / closet: it used to be a single long wall with no door or windows. We built 48″ wide doors (3 in front, 3 in back to cover the 21-1/2 feet) that have rigid insulation covered with flannel. All the distracting clutter and STUFF is behind and out of sight: teaching supplies and camera equipment on the left, a file cabinet, batting, art supplies and quilt storage at the right end.
5. What would make a “dream studio” for you?
What I now have, but with a view (not in the basement). And a wet studio space would be nice, but isn’t essential. When we moved last February, the space was grim, but I knew that with good lighting, work and persistence I could make my almost-dream-studio, and I have. Now I need 37 hours a day so I can spend more time there!
The “Before” picture of part of the studio when we moved in almost a year ago. Deep chocolate brown (UGH) on the walls, two bare bulbs. We took down a wall separating two cramped rooms, painted, added LOTS of great lighting and made it the almost-perfect studio. A view would be better, but I just have to create my own!
6. What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?
Think about what you do (and want to do) and set things up for the way you work. You don’t need a huge space, especially to start. Just find a corner and begin! That said, store like items together (means only one place to look for paint). Create “zones.” Sewing, cutting, ironing, drawing/painting. Some zones will do multiple things if your space is compact. Have a tidy attack after finishing a project or phase of a project — that way you can find stuff when you need it. If you need to, spend the money for really good lighting–it is what makes a studio in the dark basement do-able.
Other than sewing, most of the work happens at the zone on the left for ironing, cutting, and drawing on the new drafting table (which I can raise up to the same height as the worktable). The least used part of the studio, alas, is the sitting area. At least the dog uses it!
7. Any unique features/studio pets you would like to share?
The pug, Pigwidgeon, who seems to think he is a cat and sleeps on sofa backs and arms. Thumper the cat, who sometimes acts like a dog (don’t tell her, she’d be miffed–she *knows* she is and deserves to be the top of the totem pole and the rest of us are decidedly lower down, and the dog is at rock bottom) and follows me around the house and welcomes me home. Clearly, they have species identity confusion—I wouldn’t be without them! (PS…most cats have 18 toes…Thumper has about a foot and a half per leg, proof of her superiority.)
8. Any exhibits or new projects we should know about?
Threadwork Unraveled, my book about using thread for machine work: applique, quilting. Nice reviews here. Lots of information about different threads, tension (and how to troubleshoot issues), the right needle for the thread, how to use the threads, and few projects to implement what you’ve learned.