My Studio Space
Oh, wouldn’t I like to have a proper studio!
Kylee over at Bijoux & Banter has issued a request that I reveal my studio space. At the minute I am reorganizing all my fabric and books and my studio areas are a mess, so I’m showing older photographs of my set-up.
I have a small bungalow with a basement, and I use many areas for my business. I’ve got an antique table in the dining room that has additional leaves in it so I can spread out when quilting a large quilt on the machine, or when paper piecing and cutting for bags. The lovely boxes hold all my sewing thread and I have a similar set of four to hold silk ribbon. I dye fabric, ribbon and thread for specific projects, but I’ve also got a large quantity of already-dyed supplies.
Dyeing is done in the kitchen. I’ve attached a photo of one ribbon dyeing session. I bring my Ott daylight spectrum light up from the basement so I can see the colours properly and I need lots of water so I’m near the sink.
The third picture is my sun porch looking out onto the back garden. We have 1.25 acres of land so this is a beautiful aspect. This has another big table for work, and I’ve recently bought an upholstered task chair for sitting at the sewing machine. It’s not winterized but the light is incredible, I feel surrounded by light in the warmer months.
My fourth and biggest area is in the basement. This is where my computer and drafting table are as well as bookshelves with reference books and magazines, business paperwork and filing, two rectangular tables for computer and fabric respectively, and several cupboards and plastic drawer units for holding supplies. I also have a small desk backed up under the overhang of the drafting board with its own small Ott light. This is for sketching, painting, colouring, and inking.
Artist name: Judith Johnston
Business name: JJ ColourArt
Do you have a dedicated studio/artistic space?
No, I don’t have the room, it’s a tiny house.
What medium(s) do you work in?
Fabric – quilting and piecing and sewing tarot bags and handbags; cotton embroidery floss and silk ribbon and thread; strung jewellery with gemstones, glass, wood, polymer clay, and my signature paper beads; bead embroidery; pen, ink, and watercolour; collage; coloured pencil; some acrylic or casein for small abstracts; bookbinding small decorative journals; counted cross stitch and needlepoint for embellishment; digital graphics.
What one word would you use to describe your studio?
What do you think is the best feature of your studio?
I am very well supplied with artist-quality materials, and that gives me the ability to sit down and create anything I can imagine. I spend a dedicated amount each year on quality beads, paper, paint, gel medium, pencils, computer software–anything to create with. That little bit adds up to quality in supplies. It makes a difference to commit to this.
What would you change if you could?
I would like some flat storage shelves for large sheets of art paper like watercolour and pastel paper.
Can you share an organisational tip?
Keep some empty drawers and boxes available so that you can put projects away safely and keep your table clean. That way you can take a box out with everything in it and work on what you like for the day without being overwhelmed by having everything out.
Describe the usual state of your work table?
I refer to it as The Exploding Table for the simple reason that it’s always covered in a project. My work table is my 28 year-old drafting board and I have two Ott lights for it and it’s great for anything, from drawing and painting to hand sewing and embroidery or jewellery-making.
Does your work table face out into the room or toward the wall?
Out into the room. Our TV is down here and while my husband watches TV I work and I keep him company.
What’s one drawback of your studio/artistic space?
I really need more heat in the basement in the winter. It’s very cold for working with my hands and the floor is concrete. My dining room is without a window and very dark and without proper lighting so I don’t use it much if I can work down here. It’s cold in the basement for eight months of the year.
Do you have an idea wall or inspiration board?
Not really, but I do have a small cork bulletin board with a frame that I collaged with fabric, and I keep favourite pictures of artwork tacked up there. I have a quote posted that has inspired me for years: From whatever place I write you will expect that part of my ‘travels’ will consist of excursions in my own mind. [Samuel Taylor Coleridge]
Do you listen to music in your studio?
Yes, it’s a vital part of creativity for me. I have a radio upstairs usually tuned to a Jazz station, and down in the basement I can pick up stations on the television via satellite, and prefer either Contemporary Jazz or Baroque music.
Do you display your own work in your studio?
Yes, I have some old quilted items on the wall for a bit of cheer. I had to take some down as it was getting claustrophobic.
Other artists’ work?
Because of my card collection and interest in card decks, I have been privileged to own prints from two card artists: Mindy Sommers, the creator of the Dreaming in Color Luman deck, wins the prize on this one. I love her artwork so much that I have several items framed about the house. I also have a gorgeous matted limited edition print from talented photographer Natalie Zaman, who co-created the Graven Images Oracle.
What’s one quirk or unusual feature of your studio?
Bookshelves. I have eight all together down here, and four are dedicated to business-related books and magazines. Some for computer and clip art, some for art techniques and art history, and some for beading and jewellery-making. Another three shelves are for reference and history books and my cat figurine collection. It’s quite inspiring but definitely quirky to be surrounded by so many bookshelves.