Creating your Space….

This is my workroom. I’ve never really shown it to you because it seemed like there was always one last project I wanted to finish before I took pictures. It never felt quite photo worthy.

I realize now, my workspace will never, ever feel quite photo worthy and there will always be one more project to finish or an idea about how to improve it floating around in my head. (I already have ideas for projects that I want to undertake come springtime and there are still lots of things that need improvement.) I think our studios/work rooms/extra bedrooms/crafting nooks evolve as we evolve. They are ever-changing as we face challenges, come up with solutions, edit our lives, move, take on new hobbies. When my husband and I moved into this house in 2009, I just threw all my stuff into a spare room and set about making things. Minimal organization. It was chaotic. And so I didn’t want to work. When I finally addressed the storage issues, built a counter, painted the walls and moved a bigger work table into the space, my workflow improved and making my art became easier. I want my workspace to help me. I want the organization therein to assist me when I have a sudden idea and make a mad dash for my fabric stash. I need this space to hold the bulk of the items I use for my business and personal crafting and I need to be able to work efficiently in this space.

Sadly, I will probably reach craft room nirvana, a space completely optimized for work, the moment my fingers begin to curl with arthritis & I am no longer able to even think about making anything. That will be a sad day. As long as I can remember I have been “making”. Something. It’s what I do. It brings me joy.

So, my workroom will never be quite finished. But I took some photos anyway–of the space, the tools that help me work, and the handiest solutions I’ve come up with so far to help me get the most out of my time spent in here. I spent a lot of early January thinking about the way I work and what I could do in my studio to make the area more conducive to that way of working. I think that’s the most import thing to consider when designing your space—how do you work? The solutions I’ve come up with in my own space may not work in yours. You may want to see everything you have. I don’t want to see any of it. You may want an explosion of color. For me, the projects I work on are colorful. I want my space to be the backdrop to that show. Every artist is different and thankfully, our spaces can be too.

I hope there’s something you can find in these photos to help you organize your space or that might inspire you to create your own crafting nook. Sometime soon, I’ll show you photos of all my hidden storage and tell you what exactly is shoved into all these baskets, boxes and bins. You won’t believe how much stuff is actually crammed into this room!

Anything that can be stored in a pretty way, gets the glass jar treatment. On the mantle below, I have clothespins, vintage trim, plastic beads for weighting dolls, glass glitter, vintage spools of thread, vintage stamps (which I still use) and an old cake pan holding glass bottles of small beads. A couple of my dolls watch over me while I work.

My fabric storage bin was built my Dad at least ten years ago as a gift. When he built it, I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to use it, but it’s perfect for keeping all my fabrics separated by color.

This basket holds anything I’m sculpting at the time or paperclay projects or armatures that I’ve started and need to come back to. This open basket allows me to clean up my table pretty quickly when I need to switch gears. Letter boxes hold the pattern pieces I’ve created for my designs and specialty papers.

Clothespins are the best when I need to hang lots of little legs or arms or ornaments up to dry!

I even tacked them onto my shelving to give me more room for drying. I did this on a whim, but wouldn’t you know,  I use these all the time!

There are some items I find myself reaching for multiple times throughout the day. The boxes below hold those items for easiest access…tape, scissors, thread, elastic, office supplies.

More beads can be found inside the metal canisters on this silver-plated serving tray. (Labeling the contents for easy access is on my to do list!) I just attached a standard picture hanger to the back of the tray with hot glue. The canisters are attached with round magnets.

Bulk fabric is stored here on a handmade hickory chair made by my Dad and given to me as a gift several years ago.

The key to this room: like goes with like and everything has a place. It really does make clean-up simple, when I finally get around to cleaning up!

On my work table, metal pie tins hold my small, in progress projects and travel with me to art festivals to hold my business cards.

I keep a sewing basket of projects waiting to be sewed beside my sewing machine. If I only have an hour but need to get some work done, I sit down and get to it. Or I might use that time to fill this basket back up with ornaments and body parts.

Reproduction apothecary jars hold some of my stuffed pieces, just waiting to be painted. They’re separated by type.

This is my sewing basket. It is old and well used & it often travels from room to room with me. Inside it, I keep almost everything I need to create a cloth doll, like…

Body parts and small projects in a separate plastic sandwich bags. I always keep small things to stuff…like ornaments and brooches along with a couple larger projects.

The necessary tools to put a doll together!

And the two items I can’t live without…a stuffing fork and long hemostats. If you’re a doll maker and you don’t have these items, get them today! For years I stuffed teensy doll legs with a long paintbrush handle. I can’t tell you the difference this stuffing fork makes!

Beside “my” couch in the living area, I keep a basket filled with fluffy stuffing.

And on top of that basket is my sewing basket. When my husband and I watch TV in the evenings, I stuff or when it’s unusually cold out and I just want to stay curled up on the couch, I call it a stuffing day & get lots done. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of stuffing done this winter!

So, I showed you mine. Be brave and show yours! What are some great ideas you’ve come up with to improve your work flow, store your items or inspire you to be more creative? Feel free to post a link to your site in the comments! I’d love to see your area.

32nd Annual Berea Craft Festival

125 exhibitors . great food . live music . demonstrations . dance performances .

this is the place to be on July 12, 13 & 14th!

mark those calenders.

clear your weekend.

you won’t regret it!

visit for a preview of what’s to come or visit this past post for an idea of some of the things you might see.

Folk Art, Fellowship & Sweet, Sweet Sorghum

It’s that time of year again…festival season.

This past weekend, I participated in the 42nd annual Sorghum Festival in my hometown of West Liberty, Kentucky. This was an emotional & celebratory festival for us & we definitely felt the love from many of you who came to support our small town. This was a different festival for us. Where folks once darted in and out of open shops along Main Street, stood 7 ft tall security fences to prevent festival attenders from injuring themselves or falling into the space where brick & mortar storefronts once occupied. I admit there were tears & many emotional moments as I told & retold my version of the events of March 2nd. But there was happiness too. Students painted murals to decorate the security fencing. Their murals told a story of rebuilding, of piecing the town back together, of giving thanks & remaining hopeful. This festival also saw the addition of a Community Art Tent & many of our local artists were represented. Well-known artists from surrounding areas allowed us to display & sell their coveted works. Many of us were thankful to be able to buy folk art directly from the artists, watch them demonstrate their craft & fellowship under the community art tent. There were poetry readings & demonstrations, live music to entertain the crowd, a book signing and sweet, sweet sorghum, delicious & sticky & in abundance.

Photos from the Community Art Tent:

Papier Mache Sculpture by Bonita Skaggs-Parsons which she generously donated to the newly formed West Liberty Area Arts Council (of which I am a member).

Tim Lewis, carving under our tent.

Morgan County Middle School student painting of the West Liberty Methodist Church.

Folk Art & Fellowship: Work by Dolly & Guy Skaggs, Tim Lewis, Martin Cox & Sandra Gunder

Prints of an original painting by Jenny Bell.

Photograph by HB Elam

Mask by Jack Hill

Metal Sculpture by Debby Perry

Photographs by Ann Olson

Minnie Adkins’ roosters & carved creatures.

Sculpture by Ron Gevedon

Johnny Cash by Bonita Skaggs-Parsons

Carved & Painted Owl by Tim Lewis

Art by Jenny Bell & Chris Ferguson. Totem poles by Kim Gladden.

Paintings by Marita Cain (left) & large painting by Catherine Wells (right)

Obsessions & Such

I admit I have obsessions. Do you? My obsessions come & go. They’re seasonal. I become completely absorbed in an obsession, can think about nothing but that topic. Then one day, it’s gone & I find myself becoming drawn to another topic, another idea to spend countless hours researching. For example beginning in March I began stalking reading this blog: Dirt Simple. I couldn’t get enough. The words, the images, I absorbed it like a sponge & constantly made reference to this blog I read, Dirt Simple….similar to the way my husband relays snippets of info from this tech blog he reads, Gizmodo. The photos & essays are beautiful & moving in a way I can’t quite explain, but the information Deborah Silver imparts to new gardeners is priceless. I began thinking about my landscape projects, my yard, my property in a different way. In March, while I ached for sunshine & the moment I could sink my hands into new dirt, this blog was my obsession.

Now, what am I taken with? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s almost August. And it’s time to think about Halloween. I LOVE making Halloween art and I LOVE Halloween. Always have. As a kid I can remember running around with one particularly scary mask, scaring anyone that would look my way. I remember loving that mask, not wanting to take it off. I think that began my love affair with dressing up, with being silly, with getting reactions.

And so, Halloween is a big deal around here. When I lived in a remote, rural setting, I hoped, hoped, hoped we would have trick-or-treaters. I always had candy just in case. Many times, we didn’t have any…or just one. One night we had five at once & I was ecstatic!

Then we moved to Riverside. We were told to be prepared for what might happen. That first Halloween we had 250+ trick-or-treaters. It was heaven. The sweet smiles, candy wrappers, shy toddlers, plastic costumes, homemade concoctions, fairy wings, tiny witches, orange pumpkin buckets & pillow sacks…it was heaven. Every year since, we’ve decorated the house & dressed up on trick-or-treat night.  So right about now, I’m thinking about Halloween. How we’ll dress. What will be our theme? And what types of Halloween decorations can I make for this year’s festivities? (Click here to view photos of past Halloween celebrations!)

Pinterest helps organize all these ideas I find. If you’re not on pinterest, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’d like to waste at least an hour every day.

Here are some of the best Halloween ideas I’ve seen on pinterest & around the web:

Don’t those photos get you in the Halloween spirit? If you’d like to see more, here’s my Trick or Treat board on Pinterest! And if you have any super cute Halloween ideas you think I need to see, feel free to leave a link in the comment section!