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You can measure my progress by the piles of scraps

November 23, 2010

You can peek in the door of my studio and know immediately where I am in a project – planning, beginning, in the middle of, or finishing up –  just by the amount of materials and supplies in sight and how far they have spread across the room. It’s interesting to note the degree of disarray the studio goes through depending on where I am in any given process.Two days ago it looked as though a tornado had struck the center of the room. Believe it or not, that is the detail stage when all the final touches are put on a piece and it is ready to be held up and admired and thus steal all of the attention away from the disarray.

I am by nature a neat and tidy person, but there are regular intervals of complete disaster in the studio that would seem otherwise. Right now everything is put away, the floor is clean of fabric scraps, pins, threads, and the occasional buttons and snaps. The machines are all cleaned and ready to go. This means I am in the planning stages, ruminating on what the next project should be and how to execute. Tidying up is a creative activity for me. I’m in motion, clearing spaces, organizing, touching, and seeing all of the things that go into my work. Then I decide what’s next.

I walk in and begin to pull out samples, parts, and pieces. Lay them out to look at them…and begin. My favorite thing about having a studio is that I can work each day until I need to stop, and then turn out the light without having to put everything away. It’s the most luxurious part of creating in a studio. At this point I typically pull out what I need, and even put things away that won’t be used throughout the remaining steps. You can still see the room and the progress being made.

As I get into the projects I’m doing and become focused on each intricate step of construction, I begin to unconsciously grow a circle of stuff around me – the trimmings from the serger miss the basket, snipped threads accumulate around the sewing table, notions packets are tossed out of the way, specialty tools are set down where ever I am working.  Then there are the extra pin cushions, scissors, tape measures and rulers that end up in each work area for the sake of efficiency.

I am now in the groove of a project and completely focused on the piece at hand with no notice of the disaster building around me. The disarray travels out of the studio and into the hall as sneaky little threads and fabric scraps cling to me as I walk in and out. At this point I gravitate to the studio more and more while my husband falls back to visiting from the doorway being kept at bay by the threat of the errant pin getting stuck in his foot I’m sure. I think about my projects during the day becoming completely immersed in the creative processes and immune to the untidy nature of my surroundings.

As I finish up the last little stitches and pressing of a project I will begin to notice that I am stepping over puddles of scraps, piles of tools and left over materials. I hang the finished project and step back to enjoy its completion. A feeling of satisfaction fills me, but also begins to inspire me to think about what I want to do next. As I begin again to daydream about the next project I find myself going through the steps to neaten and tidy up the studio. My mind is so full of ideas I don’t even notice how much work there is to be done. Before I know it, the studio is cleaned up and ready to host the next project. This week I am starting Christmas gifts – and I know just what I want to make!

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