Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Creating Art in Any Space

Ottawa Class 2

Linda M. asked: My first question has to do with space (room). I have found since moving into a much smaller home that I am less apt to take out any of my art pieces in progress. There is no space for even a small design wall, under bed storage is already used for home canned goods, etc. My only work area is our small, full dining room, and as you know it’s extremely difficult to put away something that has our creative juices flowing full stream. Do you have any suggestions that would make it easier to put a WIP (app 2′ x 2′) safely away when mealtime or company comes?

Linda, you have no idea how lucky you are… the larger the space the more to worry about! I am not trying to be funny here – despite my wonderful custom built studio I often look back at my humble beginnings: A kitchen table in our master bedroom. Mind you, I didn’t quilt in those day. My primary focus was on embroidery and smaller projects. I did spread out into the living room and dining room table eventually, and I claimed a hall closet for storage. The best part: it was easy to stay organized.

When we first moved to Saskatchewan I had to practice patience (not my strong suit). My studio supplies and library (previously accessible in almost 700 square feet of our finished basement) were packed away in 100 + copy paper boxes. The building of the studio structure took close to nine months. The solution: I brought my main sewing machine into the house and worked on the dining room table. This worked just fine as long as my quilt did not exceed the 2′ x 2′ size you refer to. And then there were the new neighbors and friends that dropped over for coffee…

Eventually I realized that I would save myself a whole lot of stress and upset if I worked smaller. I focused on small pieces that could be framed. It also meant that a large Rubbermade lidded container would provide ample storage for those days we were expecting official company for dinner. I was able store everything in the container, push it into a corner, drape a nice fabric over it and place an over-sized vase with branches on top, making it look like a side table. Artful baskets with flat lids also work for this. I have a number of them around my living room with my spinning fibers and knitting yarns.

I think by now you understand what I am trying to share: Art can be created in any space, a motto presented by Constance Howard, a forward thinking, emerald haired and accomplished post-world war British embroiderer.

Clearly identify what it is you need and want to create. Are you making large quilts every time you plan a new project? If the answer is no and you only create one or two larger items, save these for the time you attend a retreat. That is what I continue to do. Large tables at retreats are perfect for large work.

I hope this helps – a little at least. I know it is difficult to switch gears. Making it as painless as possible is key. That ensures continued enjoyment of your passion!

I am sure many of you readers can relate and may even have a story or two to impart. Feel free to leave your contribution in the comment section below. Happy Sunday!

This entry was published on April 28, 2013 at 6:41 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design, Journaling, Networking, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Creating Art in Any Space

  1. Beulah Caswell on said:

    I am just starting the process of down-sizing, and the ideas presented are helpful. I have way too many books, thread and fabric on hand, as well as paints etc., and I want to keep it all!!! You get the picture.


  2. Bush Eastep on said:

    Hi, Anna,

    You mentioned framing small pieces today. When you have time, would you write a bit about how to frame small quilted pieces and also about other ways of presenting them effectively? I, too, am thinking more and more about making smaller pieces, but I’ve never been entirely happy with the appearance of small quilted pieces which were just hung with a rod through a hanging sleeve. Even really interesting, well-made ones don’t seem to have the presence they should when hung that way. Thanks!


  3. birdingbesty on said:

    As a student of Constance Howard I was interested in seeing what you had linked to in mentioning her in this article – the link is to the Wikipedia information about a silent screen actress of the same name as the woman with lovely malachite dyed green hair from Goldsmith College in England.
    Currently my energy has been focused on the space in which I create, how it is arranged, how to best use my small space and not feel overwhelmed by the collection of supplied I hauled along with me as I retired and settled in to a small bungalow. Thank you for this great look at creative space; I appreciate your thoughts and consideration for the textile artist in having a space for creating.


    • Thanks, Kristin. I removed the link to the silent screen actress of the same name… and replaced it with a more appropriate and correct link. My apologies. I usually check the links that pop up when I type a post – lesson learned.
      I appreciate you sharing your workspace story.


  4. Margaret Guest on said:

    I spend 3 months each winter in a small motor home and have many projects on the go all winter. I too use baskets for yarn and magazine/pattern books and I have a large multi pocketed backpack that holds fabric and sewing supplies. Last year I made a double quilt and got as far as sandwiching it (at the rec hall) but waited until I came home to do the quilting, I did the same this year with 2 3′ x 4′ quilts. These two had lots of applique and the was not too hard on my small dinette. I take a small travel iron and a pressing board and these work fine when I close down the top of the stove. The hardest thing is the height of the table makes cutting and machining harder. My story really says if you want to do it badly enough you can adapt to any space you have.
    I do however rejoice when I return home to my lovely sewing room even if I have to look out on the endless Saskatchewan snow!!


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