studio: before and after


For those of you who might think that my neat little stitches come from a tidy person, these photos tell otherwise. During a project, I never clean up. One thing leads to another, so it can be a year or more before I feel the need to start with a clean slate.


I recently finished Slow Work… Fine Work, which you can see and read about here. It seemed like a good time to pack away all of the floss, beads and little do-dads that are pulled out of hiding while I’m working. This year I’ll be making some things that I can’t talk about or show yet. So, I’ll have to come up with other ideas for this blog for a while.


My work area is pretty small and I usually lay out parts on an ironing board within reach. Whatever I’m sewing is in my hands and the table fills up with materials.  There are still piles of stuff which I can’t figure out how to organize, so they are pushed aside.


This is where I paint faces on wooden beads and carve wooden shapes. It won’t be clear for long. One thing’s for sure– I’m horizontally challenged!


16 thoughts on “studio: before and after

  1. I wish I had all those marvelous sewing and craft items—so colorful and just waiting for a new idea for their use. Glad you can keep them there for a year. Sadly, my office horizontal surface areas are covered with piles of paper, books, post-it notes, mail, 3-ring binders, photographs, CDs, pencils/pens, etc. ——so much harder to clean up,

  2. Yay – so nice to see your busy workspace! I’ve been fretting because I have scraps of fabric that have been all over my table since I started on a project last month. Then I was interrupted and went to two other projects, but never put away all the scraps, which I know I’ll need soon, and they’ll be out for at least another month! So glad I’m not the only one who does this! Next time my husband grouches, I’ll show him your photo! (On the plus side, the cats love it – it gives them a nice place to nest in the winter…)

  3. Your “mess” wasn’t really too messy in your before pictures. I do think when we organize every SEW often, it makes us feel good….IF I could just remember where I put things when I “clean up”

    • Oh how this makes me smile,as this is so true if I clean up to much, it will take me a valuable hour to find how well I put things away,yes my hubby loves to see my studio all neat,but It leaves me not able to get inspired,lol.I leave for work at 4am and work three hours and return trying to get back to what e er was on the table,It leaves me with drafted block ,darn

  4. An architect friend told me about a study that a university did involving a large number of architects. I am not sure of all the details of the study but the gist was that they found the architects fell into three main groupings regarding how they kept their studios: 1) always extremely neat, 2) always extremely messy, and 3) alternated between the messy state when they were creating but the mess would get to the point that it drove the architect crazy so s/he would get it all cleaned up only to have it explode again during the next creative spurt. They then analyzed the work that the architects put out. The architects in the third group were more prolific, won far more awards, and their designs were judged to be more creative and better than the other two groups.

    That story has always given me solace because that is my story to a T. I like order and cleanliness but it all goes to hell in a hand basket when I am being creative! Then it will get to the point that I can’t stand it and clean it all up which lasts only till the next time I start working on something.

    My trick to finding stuff when I clean up is Clear Containers and Labels; lots of Labels. The plastic containers that spinach and mixed salad greens come in are great because they are so clear I can see what I have in them and they stack well. I have learned that I have to label what ALL is in the container very clearly, detailed, and descriptive. That has made all the difference. In the past I used labels that were too broad and generic so I could never find where I had stowed this or that oddity.

  5. I loved seeing this Salley! I am, by nature, a tidy, careful person, but when I work, I have stacks of supplies all around me and it stays there until I finish. Too many times I have put something away, only to need it while I am working. I think having my supplies out helps my mind stay in the artistic mode. I do tidy up after the project is complete, but that can be a few months. I love organizing my “stuff”. Handling and looking at all the small things always inspires me. I once spent 8 days labeling every single container and that has been a marvelous help. I relate to “islandowl”‘s way of working and the interesting evaluation of the architects. Now, Salley, I will be sooo excited to see what you will be doing next. Ooh, SECRETS…they make my ears twitch (well, my husband calls me, “bunny”, so I guess that is a natural response for me! Have so much fun!

  6. your studio is beautiful messy or clean. It looked great at the open house you had. I don’t have a studio, so all of my artistic endeavors are spread out throughout my whole house…painting and crafts in the dining room…..crochet and knitting in the living room..more crochet in my bedroom…..piles of yarn in all the closets….every color of paint Americana and Deco Art makes….my poor husband has 4 square feet, which is his desk and I am sitting at that now!

  7. I agree that even your messy spaces look beautiful. But I’m also delighted by how much we work alike. I never clean up during a project, and one thing leads to another, so sometimes it takes a while before things get straightened up. Whew, it’s not just me. 🙂

  8. Oh Salley, even your “mess” inspires me, I work exactly the same way until the project is finished and then I clean up and begin the whole process again. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thanks for the peak into the mind and work space! Helps me sort out my own ideas and spatial needs. The more I craft, the more “extras” I have left afterwards! 🙂

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