Thursday, March 13, 2008

Organized chaos

"Jo, do you dare show what your studio looks like after you finished your project?" she said. I took the last of the current series to the photographer/printer today, and after that phone call with my friend I decided to take a few photos to show you what my studio looks like. It's organized chaos. While I'm working I don't bother with keeping my space tidy but once the project is finished or every few weeks, whichever comes first, set my timer for an hour or two and dive in and work as fast as I can for that brief time, sorting, filing, putting things where they belong and making the space look orderly. It doesn't last. I know all about organizing and have many books on the subject. I could teach organizational skills for the studio. I just can't do it consistently... don't see the point.
I have work stations set up and they serve me well. There a long counter along one wall where I work on collages and everything is at hand. With drawers underneath and plenty of counter space its an efficient work area. There's a paper cutter at the end of the counter, a revolving utensil rack for pens/pencils, a knife rack on the wall for scissors, and its handy to the computer and printer. As I stand here working I can look down into the main space of my home.

To the left of this counter on a lower section of counter is where my computer and printer live, along with file drawers and drawers for stencils, alphabet stamps and pads. I can swivel my desk chair and work on a large table where I usually sit to add the text to my collages.

This space is on the second floor and I have lots of big windows that overlook our back garden and the distant mountains.

Here are a couple of views of my stamping setup. I made two book makers' sewing cradles to house my most-used alphabet stamps. It eases the awkwardness that often comes with handling the tiny stamps. People have asked if I do all the text with some kind of stamp. Yes, I do a lot of it with stamps, and no, it isn't difficult but it sure is time-consuming, doing this one at a time. When a section of my own hand lettering works I prefer to do it by hand; otherwise I hand stamp, or stencil the words. Some of the text can be computer generated but I prefer the hand work most of the time.

Then the last area that's important for this work is my big 4 x 8' work table. I had it made years ago by a cabinet maker when I was doing so much work with fabric. It has 4 huge drawers and big open sections where I keep supplies. Here I'm set up for painting. The colorful surface is a large sheet of hardboard on which I work. It has gathered layers and layers of paint from many months of painting with acrylics. Someday I'll probably use it as the background for a large painting, or cut it into several smaller pieces and then start over with another piece of board.

The multi-drawered chest under the window is an antique Butterick pattern cabinet but paint supplies have replaced the patterns which used to crowd the drawers. The top is protected by a sheet of plywood and provides another work surface... or flat storage. It's a good place to lay paintings to dry.

And now as my thanks to you for hanging in for this studio tour, here is the first and the last piece in this sermon notes series.


  1. Hi Jo! I have just today "stumbled" onto your site. As I was viewing it, I had to wonder, "what does she mean when she says "supports" ?!? It apparently has SOMETHING to do with creating collages, but for the life of me, I cannot figure it out! Duh
    Thanks, Sharrone Clay of Toledo, Ohio

    1. In art your support is what you do your work upon. It might be a stretched canvas, a wooden board, a fiberboard panel, paper, wood. An embroiderer support would be the fabric she stitches into. It's also called "a substrate".

      Im so glad you reached out and asked me. I had that same questions years ago when i was a beginner.


I appreciate comments and questions.

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