Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Behind the scenes, Studio Habits

Lisa Call Has a wonderful insightful blog and this week she came up with this post. She is going to post a list all who respond on the 28th June.

Is your studio at home or at a separate place?

As many of you know we have been in the process of moving here over the last 6 months or so. My sewing room in our old house got moved here amongst the first rooms. (Notice it was a sewing room, now it has the lofty title of a studio.)  It is a downstairs room at the front of the house away from the living areas.

How big is your studio?

 It is only 13'9" x 11'2" (4.19m x 3.4m) or 153.385sq ft (14.25 sq meters). And it still is not completely unpacked and organised. You might not believe it from these photos but it is very nearly there. (Perhaps I should join some group where I start every meeting "My name is Sally and I am a .....")

Typically, how many hours a day do you work in the studio?

I would like to spend 30 hours a week in there but in practice 20 would be very good. As regular readers know, I haven't stitched anything except making curtains for the last six months or so.

Does all your work take place in the studio?

Not at all. Most of the design work takes place in the middle of the night or early morning whilst I am in bed. I have three large bookcases in the bedroom. In those I have books on art and quilting. I use these as a bouncing off point for ideas. I then work through the whole piece in my head. Most will be discounted at an early stage, often because the idea or concept is good but perhaps the amount of work involved for the result ratio isn't up there. I have a limited lifespan. 

How many days a week?

Looking into the near future, I imagine it will be about 4 or 5 days a week.

 Do you listen to music while you work?

Not often, but occasionally when quilting background work I will put on something I can sing along to. Anything from Opera to Leonard Cohen to old Beatles to Porgy and Bess.... (I never sing when someone else is in the house or the windows are open )

 Do you watch television while you work?

I did whilst piecing and appliqueing but not when things require 100% concentration. It is on but I only look up when I need to follow the plot. BBC Radio 4 is my main companion. It is speech based radio though lately it has dumbed down so far, I find little of interest. Strangely day time TV which has to be the ultimate of the 'dumbed down' media doesn't irritate me so much, but perhaps that is because I never expected it to stretch my mind.

Do you answer the telephone while you are in your studio?

Yes always. However engrossed I might be in what I am doing, people always come first. (This doesn't mean I don't cut calls short sometimes).

How often do you take breaks?

It depends what I am doing. Cutting out seems to make me take the most breaks. If fabric is short and I just cannot make a mistake, I will procrastinate for England before applying the blade to the fabric. Piecing and appliqueing mean I can go on for hours but to do so I would need intravenous tea. I probably get up every hour or so, let the dog out, put the kettle on etc. Machine quilting I find relaxing and can go on non stop for the longest but only if I am on my chair (infinitely adjustable) and at my table set up (with a table on the left to take the weight of the quilt). This is a case of don't do what I do but do as I say. It has taken me years to get to a point where I am so relaxed whilst doing it that I don't injure my shoulders or neck by continuing without a break.

 Do you have any over-use issues with your hands or any other body parts?

I developed carpel tunnel syndrome whist doing shasiko with the wrong needle in tightly woven fabric. That was the break point with the carpel tunnel syndrome, it really evolved hand milking a house cow. I have Fibromyalgia and doing almost anything for extended periods hurts me in some way or another. Cutting hurts my neck. 

 If so, how do you manage them or compensate?

I now have a neck brace which I only wear whilst cutting. So far my hands have not been badly affected and for this I am very grateful.  I have acupuncture for pain relief and I live on a cocktail of medications. If things are very bad and I am on the really strong painkillers, it is not a good idea to let me anywhere near my studio whilst under the influence  (but then I cannot drive either). They tend to make me a little 'off the planet', though sometimes I come up with really good ideas whilst taking them.


  1. Love your studio! And can you elaborate please on the beautiful applique quilt on the design wall?

  2. Thanks Ady, it started as a block of the month on Esther Aliu's site. Funditmently it still is but I changed different elements to make it mine. http://www.estheraliu.com/hearts-desire.php

  3. And to my Russian contributor, I wish it were a Grand Studio! lols