My Studio

I live in the top half of an open plan converted barn and practically my whole living space is my studio. I moved to the Teign Valley in Devon, England from Scotland 3 ½ years ago. I serendipitously found the Cider Barn while scouting out the Southwest. This part of the UK has the highest concentration of artists and craftspeople outside of London. It was part of my ‘coming out’ as an artist to re-locate to the Southwest and to find my tribe.

I have a core workroom with all of my art making materials.

My ironing board lives in the foyer and I have a great dining table I bought in Scotland with leaves that I can pull out if I need a big work surface.

John with whom I share the space Understands About Art, so if the dining table is being used for a project, we find another place to eat.

I’ve lined my studio walls with insulation board (from Jewson’s) that I have painted with white latex matte paint so I can pin lots of things up and even paint onto them if I want to.

Of course I had to put a bed in. I find that my ideas just flow better if I am sitting or lying on the bed while I am writing or composing poetry. I keep my stash of mostly batik cotton fabrics and silks, velvets and sheers beneath the bed. Also a portfolio of handmade paper. The quilt on the bed is one of the very few traditional quilts I’ve made – Nellie’s Nine Patch.

The board behind my door is covered with a flannel grid.

I usually have about 5-6 things that I am working on at any given time. I like having all of my works in progress up where I can keep an eye on them. The small studio space keeps me disciplined. When I want to work on a particular piece I get the necessary materials out, work until it’s time to stop working, put the piece back on the wall and put the materials away.

I do have one or two ‘long term’ pieces that I have stashed away for now. The next stage isn’t quite clear and I am working some techniques out on some of my current pieces.

Main work surface

Stabilisers, stamps & pads, beads, glues, coloured pencils & pens.

Threads, paints and fibres

The star of the show – my Bernina 1090

I’m experimenting with ‘to sketchbook or not to sketchbook’. Sketchbooking seems to be de rigeur amongst fibre artists, but it’s never really been a part of my process. I actually had a confession re: sketchbooks from a rising British star in the art quilt world (who shall remain nameless). I spoke to her at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in 2006 and admired her sketchbooks. She said that she often puts one together after she has completed her art quilt.

I’ve kept a personal journal for about 30 years and am recently painting and drawing in it as it strikes my fancy. I have an A4 spiral bound book for ongoing ideas/writings and a small moleskine notebook that I carry in my handbag for jotting things down on the fly.

Notebooks

A method I am experimenting with to keep track of where I need to go next with a given project is to pin a list of ‘next steps’ up beside the piece, crossing off as I go along and periodically putting up a new list of steps.

I have my computer and printer set up in a corner of the main living area. I spend a lot of time here working on my videopieces, printing onto fabric and of course, crafting my blog.

Directly opposite my computer area is the cooking studio.

When I’m working, I flow around the barn. I may simultaneously be auditioning music for a videopiece, washing dishes and baking, painting on the dining table, ironing tissue paper onto freezer paper to run through the printer, making a hanging sleeve, writing a blog post . . .

I also have many outside studios to choose from. This is one of my favourite slate beaches on the river.

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10 thoughts on “My Studio

  1. Being UK based I can appreciate your comment that “the small space keeps me disciplined”. There’s room in my studio for the ironing board, but I do have to keep moving it around….
    “Next steps” is a great idea for those larger projects — mind if I borrow it??

  2. I love your studio and your space. I like all that you are doing with your art and your quilts. It must be wonderful to be living in a place with so much character.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Sometimes I feel that it is ‘less than’ when I see articles about purpose built quilt/fibre art super studios. But I am committed to making art everywhere in my life, right now, just where I am.

    Margaret, you may not only borrow, but can have ‘Next steps’. I hope it works for you and pass it on!

  4. Gosh, Melinda, I’m away from my computer for a few days, and next time I look at your blog is flooded with wonderful new stuff. Thanks for sharing your studio space, apart from seeing work, inspiration and work in progress; studio/work space is my favorite…… And the surrounding countryside is just beautiful – the connection with your quilts is very strong.

  5. What I would give to have what you do. And not just the Barn.

    Life being what it is, it is hard to get other artists to work together let alone even having coffee or tea once and a while. Yet there is so much power in numbers. Don’t know about there, but here all the car dealers are in the same part of town on the same boulevard. Where do you suppose people go to buy cars.

    Same with New Hope Pennsylvania. One of the top 10 or 20 places to buy art in the world, depending on the list you read.

    If it were only possible to get other artist to take over an area like where you are and the area be known for art. Then having a barn as yours for a studio, that would be heaven.

    So, does your studio have a name?

    My current apartment / studio is called Snug Palace.

    Best wishes from a lowlander and fellow artist.

  6. Melinda, How in the world can you concentrate with your feet in that cold water,I would be more like finding a heater.Love

  7. I adore that house barn. It looks fabulous. And the outdoor setting is dreamy. As for the ironing board. I made a small one for my counter top that I prop next to my onion/potato bin when not in use. Just took a small piece of plywood , 3 foot x 1 1/2 foot, put batting on it, covered it with some blue cotton cloth stapled the edges to the back so it was tight all the way round, the nailed on small bits of wood to raise it about 2 inches on both ends for legs. It doesn’t work well for big projects but with 2 grandkids running around it keeps my iron on the counter where it’s harder for them to tip over, lol. I use it for ATC’s and small Crazy Quilts.

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