25 August 2013

I've moved - please visit me at Smudged Textiles Studio! :)

Okay, so the new website is finally done and I've started blogging there.

Please visit me at Smudged Textiles Studio! :)

I won't be posting here anymore although the blog will remain up for as long as Blogger let's it be. Unfortunately, if you subscribe, either via email or using the Follower widget, you'll need to do it again on the new site.

When you get to the blog there, you'll see a subscription for email delivery at the very top of the right hand sidebar. Beneath that, you can also use Bloglovin' to follow the new blog. Wordpress does not support the Follower widget that is on this blog, so if you want to subscribe in some way, those are the two options.

I hope you'll follow me there, have a LOT of great stuff in store! :) See you over there!

11 August 2013

printed (1)

I'm entering what I affectionately call "exhibit season". (Is it just me or does there seem to be an exceptional number of show deadlines in the autumn?) I have a solo show in October and then the Earth Stories quilt  and an Invitational to send work in for.

I was messing around with a new series idea a few weeks ago, was positive I had nailed it. And then when I tried to repeat the trial piece that I liked so well, it kept flopping. Might mean the trial piece was a fluke. Not sure. Only thing I know is that this is not the time to pause and ponder it. So I set it aside and decided I would make some more Remnants Collages as planned. (I do like me a good collage.)

Then yesterday, the studio smacked me in the head with an idea and I dropped everything else I was working on to obey.

You see, I've been working toward becoming comfortable with machine stitching. I want to make a new series that is more quilt like and while I'll stop being a hand stitcher when you pry my needles and perle cotton from cold dead hands, I do admit that I was feeling lured.

Now I'm going to say something and I'm sure I'm going to get some "Not true!" shouts at the computer screen - machine stitching is quicker. It's quicker because of the way I stitch my work - straight stitches, graphic, simple. So a line of straight stitch on a machine goes a hell of a lot faster then a row of straight stitch by hand.

Would it be quicker if I was thread painting? Nope. And all you lovely artists out there that do that kind of machine work have my admiration. But for the way I use stitch in my work? Light years faster.

So here is where I was at: if I can learn to use machine stitching in a way that I'm comfortable with and that suits my work, then I could produce more work, quicker and larger. Period. That's what really sparked my quest for a new series because honestly, I'm weary of producing such a low volume of artwork every year. I have so many ideas, I want. to. make. more.

And yesterday in the studio I did it:

Printed (1)
19.5" wide x 18.5" high
Lynn Krawczyk

I don't know about you but I always like the detail shots better then the overall ones. So here's a close up:

I don't know how to express how this makes me feel. Scared and excited all at the same time. Never thought I'd see machine stitching marching across my work. But somehow I feel it goes, maybe because it's a whole cloth printed piece of fabric. The focus is on the printing, the stitching is merely a layer.

It's a small piece, I wanted to see if it would work the way my vision grabbed me. And I'm happy to say that it did. It might seem insignificant, after all, quilters are burning up their machines every day.

But this is a huge step for me. One that still feels uncomfortable in a lot of ways but I've decided to just feel weird and keep going.

Gotta love the weird. :)

03 August 2013

"Earth Stories" quilt - printing landfill fabric

So today I really got rolling on my "Earth Stories" quilt that I mentioned in the last post. First up on the agenda is making landfill fabric.

Wha?? (Sounds really weird, I know.)

I plan to make the art quilt in my collage style and I want the foundation fabric to represent the paper cups that go to the landfill every year. (Statistics range from 58 billion to 12 billion. Quite a range in numbers but the key word there is "billion". Scary, right?)

Last week I painted the fabric to look like it has been coffee stained:

I did try using actual coffee but wow, talk about seriously wimpy color. I got creative and I'm really happy with the result. Ever since The Great Studio Purge of 2013, I've been secretly operating on the Buy-nothing-new-only-work-from-the-stash pledge. (Not so secret anymore, is it?) All that fabric came from the stash, had a lot of neutrals. And the nice thing is that even though they are all cotton, they all reacted differently to the paint. So there is some seriously nice color and pattern variation going on there.

In all honesty, I'm not sure if I have enough. Looks like a lot but when I cut the felt panels today, I got twitchy. (Cutting the panels to the right size is most likely the hardest part of this entire project for me. Exact sizes are not my forte but I got it done with minimal cussing.)

Here's another look at the grungy wild coffee "stained" fabric:

The plan is to print all these with several layers and then rip them apart like a wild woman to create the collaged background. (The ripping apart is great fun.) It's a delicate balance at this point because if I print too much, I back myself into a corner when it comes to printing more after it's put together.

And for a girl who likes to get carried away and print long after the cows come home, it's a little difficult. But I started by printing every piece with a sihlouette of a to-go coffee cup tattooed with the word "billions" on it:

(This is my first go at the Blick Textile Screen Printing Ink. Can I just say 32oz? Yeah, baby! So far so good, got a little sticky but the color is good and it has a nice consistency. Oh and did I mention 32oz?)

I printed a lot of coffee cups.

I flirted with the idea of actually printing billions of cups. But the quilt would either need to be ten times the size I'm making or the cups would be so tiny you'd have absolutely not idea what they are. Plus there is also the issue of my sanity so we went this route. These cups are about 3.5" high x 2.5" wide.

I did do some more printing over top of the cups but everything was wet when I walked out of the studio. I can't show you the final quilt but I can show you parts, like the fabric, and annoyingly cropped super close up details just to taunt you. Which I'll probably do.

I'm especially excited about the exhibit because SAQA really does know how to tour a show (this will be out for a couple of years) and it's debuting at Michigan State University in 2014. Which means I'll actually get to attend it! Woo!

And before you ask - yes, this will be a very brown quilt. I've done some monochromatic pieces in the past and to be honest, the challenge of it is really fun. It takes quite a bit of work to make sure that you don't make a one note hunk of solid color with no interest. The key will be varying the tones and shades and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of layers.

Layers. Mmmmmmm...

The printing shall continue! :)

27 July 2013

Drink Coffee, Make Art - will you take the pledge?

You all know I'm a coffee obsessed artist. Love it. I make my own at home and I also have my favorite coffee shops that I like to visit to get a fancy coffee or a brew that they specialize in. It's been on my mind for a while that I wanted to do art specifically about my beloved coffee and I've finally found the perfect reason to do it.

I'm one of the artists that has been juried into a special exhibit for Studio Art Quilt Associates called "Earth Stories". The exhibit features artwork that highlights issues that are hurting the earth and the people/organizations that are working to help eliminate the problem.

I spent a lot of time looking around at causes. There are so many to choose from. It was pretty overwhelming to be honest. I started to feel really really small and like even if I highlighted a really great organization, it just wouldn't be...enough. I started to feel as if I needed something that I could play a part in. No small order.

I read a lot about what kind of trash is in a landfill during my research. (Pretty gross, don't recommend it.) And when I came across this statistic, I felt a pull:

"Paper and cardboard make up over 40% of the solid waste buried in North American landfills. Of that 40%, a disproportionate amount is attributable to disposable coffee cups. Unlike newspaper and cardboard boxes, disposable paper cups are not recyclable. The thin lining that makes a paper cup waterproof also keeps it from being recycled. All of those cups end up in our nation’s landfills."

I had NO idea. I drink from paper disposable coffee cups all of the time and think nothing of it, always assuming that they could break down easily because they're paper, not sytrofoam. I was surprised to know that I'm playing a part in that horrible 40% statistic.

It clicked then that while this may seem like an insignificant thing to make a piece of art about when you compare it to other environmental issues, it's one that I personally can make a change in. It's something that takes so little effort and can effect such an incredible change.

That makes it important.

So instead of trying to find a cause to highlight in my art quilt, I thought it would be cool to start an awareness project. Mainly because I had no idea what I was contributing to with such a simple action of throwing a paper cup in the trash. And by not doing that, if many of us didn't do that, there'd be a difference in the amount of waste going into landfills.

That's pretty powerful, isn't it?

I'm looking for artists who are willing to take the pledge with me to reduce or eliminate drinking from disposable coffee cups. I'd like to include a mini study with my art quilt because we are including sketch books to travel with the work.

If you are an artist and you drink coffee or tea (have heard from the tea drinkers that they'd like to be included too) from disposable cups and would like to help me out, here's what I'm looking for:

I'll send you a tracking form that will tally how many disposable cups you drink from over the course of four weeks. In week one, I ask that you don't change your habits at all and just see how many cups you're using. And then over the next three weeks, make an effort to reduce or eliminate paper cups completely - meaning drinking from a reusable cup. (This applies to styrofoam cups too, anything that is disposable.) 

I've had some people tell me that they don't think they'd be a good drinker to follow because they only occassionally drink from disposable cups. But I disagree. Every cup that doesn't go into the landfill matters. So if you only drink from two disposable cups per week and stopped that, that's eight cups a month that wouldn't go to the landfill. Multiply that by thousands of people and THAT MATTERS.

At the end of four weeks, send me your information and I'll figure out how much waste we kept out of the landfills!

I'd like to compile the results into a record to travel with the quilt. So I'll also be asking that I can include your name and state. If you are interested, please send me an email at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net and I'll send you the forms.

Thanks for joining me in making a difference! :)

22 July 2013

would YOU like to guest blog for me?

The site for Smudged Textiles Studio (my new art home!) continues to be built, getting there. At the current pace, I'm saying mid September for it's unveiling. I have huge plans for the blog once it moves over there and one of the new elements is Guest Blogging. Woo!

I'm looking for posts on the following topics:

* Fiber art / mixed media project tutorials

* Fiber art / mixed media art technique tutorials

* Essays about creativity

* Art business advice

* Cool topics I haven't thought of! :)

If any of those sound like something you'd like to write about, shoot me an email at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with your post idea and I'll send you the guideline sheet for Guest Blogging.

Please know that not every post pitched can be accepted. It has to fit the vibe of my site meaning being fiber art or creativity/art business related - I won't be putting up posts about Tupperware.

Thanks and hope to write with you! :)

21 July 2013

publishing news - Power to the Puff! :)

Well, "Power to the Puff!" isn't the real name of the article but that's how I felt when I was writing it. :)

I've got an article out in the latest Quilting Arts about Jacquard Puff Additive. It's a nifty product that lets you turn any paint into a puffing machine. I had a great time with it and the article is basically a review of how I used it and the tips that I have for incorporating it into your work:

And because I'm a total geek for the stuff, I shot a (somewhat lopsided) video* of how the paint puffs. I loved watching it do it's thing and thought you might like to see it in action too. The video shows me puffing a Thermofax screen print of my Birds on a Wire screen.

* Holding the camera in one hand and puffing with the heat gun in the other hand wasn't so easy. Not the most perfect video in the world but it's still fun to watch, stick it out past the part where I'm talking and then it goes straight. ;-)

Happy Puffing! :)

15 July 2013

"Color Theory Made Easy" workshop & a freebie! :)

Earlier this year when I wandered down to Ohio to film a couple of segments for Quilting Arts TV, I also filmed my second DVD workshop, "Color Theory Made Easy".

DVD version here
Downloadable version here

As the name implies, it's about Color Theory - specifically the color wheel, tint, tone, shade and color combinations. The incredible amount of information contained in color theory would have made the workshop easily twenty hours long (which I wouldn't have minded but the camera guys probably had a limited attention span for paint flinging and gushing over the subject of color so that wasn't an option) but I had only one so those are the highlights I hit.

Of course, I had to make it fun while I was at it! :) See those printed Typewriters up there? Want a closer look? Here:

For each color concept we learn, we make one of these. Nifty, right? :) In order to make them, we learn gelatin plate monoprinting, paint writing and Thermofax screen printing. By re-creating the same piece for each lesson, you can see how simply changing the color of the work changes the entire feel of it.

Here's a little preview of the workshop:


You'll notice on the cover of the DVD that the pieces are attached to canvases but in the close up right before the video clip, it looks like a wall hanging. And you would be right. In the DVD I teach you how to mount them on canvas as individual works. But I also thought it would be fun to see them assembled into a more traditional setting like a small machine pieced wall hanging.

I enlisted the help of Blogless Patrice Smith (thus named because she is without a blog or website) to create one such wall hanging and she kindly obliged. This is how they look in that setting:

Typewriter Love Wall Hanging
by Lynn Krawczyk and Patrice Smith
* modeled by Leann Meixner

(The quilt model is the fabulous Leann. Don't you love her shoes?)

I show you the wall hanging at the beginning of the workshop but that's about it. I don't tell you how to put it togehter. I felt kind of like a tease because of that so I put together a free tutorial that you can download and call your very own.

Now to print the Typewriter blocks, you have to get the workshop, that's the only place I show you how to do that. (Which is a really good time anyhow so you'll definitely want to do that!) Once you have those done, you can assemble them into your very own "Typewriter Love Wall Hanging."

(The directions assume that you understand basic machine piecing.)

As always, I had an awesome incredible time filming the workshop - it's always such a joy to be able to put these together! I hope you'll love it as much as I do! :)

14 July 2013

where i stand sunday

The art fair swirls around me in a blur of sound and movement and summer heat bouncing off the concrete. My eye locks on the cluster of chalk drawings of classic movie posters. As I step to the edge and look down at the shark, one sentence bounces through my mind:

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Full view of the chalk drawing, it really was quite good. :)

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

13 July 2013

searching again

So there I was, minding my own business, when suddenly it hit me. That little voice that only takes being ignored for so long before it has a full on tantrum - you know the one, it speaks for your creativity. It wasn't so polite this time, it really chewed me out. It said, "Listen, you need to make some art. How about machine pieced quilts?"

What? Huh? I've never made a machine pieced quilt in my life. Although I love them dearly, I'm strongly attracted to the Gee's Bend and Nancy Crow aesthetic. The impact of their work takes my breath away.

I have flirted with the idea of machine pieced work a couple of times. The last time I entertained it, the Remnants Collage series was born. You can clearly see that I don't machine piece these:

Remnants Collage 5
Lynn Krawczyk

I rely on fusing for this series, it's served me well. But since the nagging little voice distracted me for several days with it's insistence, I decided to try a small study by creating a Remnants Collage that is machine pieced. I just grabbed random pieces out of scrap box and went to town, chopping and sewing back together:

Let me say that I'm not unhappy with this. It has some things I really like. One of the interesting things is that I felt like I had far less control over the outcome then how I normally make my collages. Maybe it's because it was a trial and I wasn't trying to focus on design, but there was far more, "Let's just see what happens" with this little fellow. Kind of liked that part.

My issue with it is that it doesn't look that different to me then my other Remnants Collages - meaning that all I'm doing is changing construction methods for the series. It didn't take me long to realize that this isn't what the little voice was nudging me about.

My task now is to figure out what it wants. I'm looking at a whole new series, one that creates the emotional impact that I feel when I look at Gee's Bend quilts but still comes from my voice. No small order.

I didn't expect to be searching again, I feel quite settled with the work that I'm doing right now. I've no intention of abandoning the Remnants Collage series because I love that series and all it has to say. But now I'm wanting to introduce something entirely new. It's exciting and maddening at the same time.

How about you? Do you ever get hit over the head with the idea for new work when you least expect it?

10 July 2013

a new collaboration - the beginning! :)

Okay, we've talked all about how to make our spaces more functional - now it's time to use it! Woo!

Lest you think all I've done is push my supplies around and no art has been made, I'm excited to tell you about a new project. I'm starting a collaboration with the fabulous Karen Anne Glick.

I first "met" Karen Anne when I was trolling around on etsy looking at fiber art. It's a habit, something I do to unwind at the end of the day. For some reason, it zones me out, it's like my own personal little gallery. But when I found Karen Anne's shop, I sat up bolt straight.

You know how there are some people you encounter for the first time and you just know that you are destined to be friends? Sounds weird but I knew that when I saw Karen Anne's art, there is a kinship there that I can't explain. I'm happy to report that she feels the same, we have become friends through online. (Which is good because I really don't know what the protocol is to become a proper stalker.)

Ever since I got a taste for how wonderful and exciting collaboration can be in the project I did with Lisa Call, I had been searching for a way to create a longer and more elaborate project. And now Karen Anne and I are doing just that (couldn't think of a better partner, really).

We don't have a lot of rules outside of we're going to do our level best to keep a regular schedule. We have sent out two originals each, no specific size, and once the other person receives it, she can do whatever she wants to it. Cut it up, stitch it, print it, make funny faces at it.

What will be interesting is that while we are both abstract artists, we have very different processes.

Karen Anne works will all kinds of fabric and does free form machine piecing.

I'm a printer, all paint all the time. And I work mostly on cotton (as in 99.9% of the time.) And we all know how me and the machine get along...hand stitching anyone?

In all honesty, the biggest challenge for me will be altering Karen Anne's work. I own two of her pieces, I have an incredible affection for her aestheic - will be a little difficult to take paint to it. Well, the first time at least. ;-)

We're going to document the progress of the pieces on our blogs (Karen Anne's is here) and I hope you'll stick with us as they grow and twist and change. We're not sure when we'll call them done, we just want to work organically and keep it fun. So without further ado, here are the original pieces we each created as a start. Let the games begin! :)

Original quilt #1 (measuring 8.5" wide x 6.5" high) from Karen Anne:

Original quilt #2 (measuring 8.5" square) from Karen Anne:

Original printed fabric #1 (forgot to measure it, will get that from Karen Anne) from me:

Original printed fabric #2 (forgot to measure it, will get that from Karen Anne) from me:

Should be a fun ride! :)

09 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Maintenance

* This is the final post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.
* See the fifth post "Reclaim Your Space - No Time like the Present".
* See the fourth post "Reclaim Your Space - Containers and Labels".
* See the third post "Reclaim Your Space - Hyperfocus".
* See the second post, "Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help".
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".

I can say with a large degree of pride and relief (and general exhaustion) that the goal to reclaim my spaces was accomplished. Let's look at both rooms again, shall we? :)

    The Warehouse Post Purge

    The Studio Post Purge

You'll notice that when I took the Post Purge photos of the Studio, I still had some work to do. I have to go through some papers and file things away. But Mary the Wonder Organizer left me with a better filing system then I currently have so I'm set there. (The old one will be donated to the Sali Army. See? I can be taught.)

My print table also needs to be sorted but everything up there has a clearly identified home so it doesn't concern me, it will be cleared in the blink of an eye.

I also need to make some fabric decisions. The truth of it is that it was almost 10pm when we finished. We were both tired and worn through and all of the remaining items I am more then capable of completing on my own.

I'll be honest, I'm a little worried it will get messy again, worried I'll end up with a heap that will suck out my creative energy and I'll want to just take it all out to the backyard and watch it go up in flames (that was where I was at at the beginning.)

I told Mary the Wonder Organizer that I was stressing about it. She just smiled, all calm and unfreaked out and said, "So make a schedule to keep up with it."

A schedule. I like schedules. Then I don't have to think about it, I can just work and not worry.  I seem to be a guideline kind of gal when it comes to managing my time. So I went one step farther and made myself my own personal guidelines, ones that felt easy and manageable and that I can easily follow to keep things in line. I give you my "Stash Management Commandment List":

Stash Management Commandment List

1. There is no "I'll try" or "I want to".  I will exhibit the same commitment to continued success as I did to the cleaning up of it.

2. I will not buy anything I already have. And if I get something new, something old has to go out.

3. I will no longer live with items I don't want. I will not hide them away in a closet or the basement or under a table. They go to a friend or The Sali Army. No in between.

4. I will set a schedule in which I will do a sweep every two weeks and put everything away.

5. I will not berate myself or accept any negative comments regarding The Stash. It contains the tools I use to make art and it deserves respect - including mine.

6. No extra baskets allowed in the studio. I will not create piles to sort later that can grow up to be heaps.

It will take work, I know this. Anything worth doing is. But I feel good about it. Mary helped me realize that I have complete control over my environment and I can make it what I want it to be.

And you know how people take photos of themselves when they are overweight so they can always remember how far they have come in their weight loss journey? I'm doing something like that but I'm going to print out this photo to put with my Stash Management Commandment List:

That's the floor beneath my print table. Housing nothing but the trash can, canvases for new work and my fabric organizing boards. Note the floor. Note the lack of piles of boxes. Note the space.

That picture makes me deliriously happy.

Lesson learned: As Mary the Wonder Organizer said, we are all works-in-progress. Nothing is ever truly finished so embrace it, love what you do and keep optimism alive. :)  

If you are struggling with your space as well, I wish you luck and good thoughts and all things positive. Remember, make it what you want it to be. I hope that there was something in these posts that will help you along your way! :)

08 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - No Time Like the Present

* This is the fifth post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.
* See the fourth post "Reclaim Your Space - Containers and Labels".
* See the third post "Reclaim Your Space - Hyperfocus".
* See the second post, "Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help".
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".

As I was about as desperate as a teenager who has lost her cell phone to downsize my belongings, the need for a plan to get things out of my space was at the top of the list.

My original plan was to gather all the things that I didn't want, put them in a few really big boxes and then invite all my art friends over to dig through it and take away the treasures they wanted to keep. I informed Mary the Wonder Organizer of my brilliant idea and her question to me stopped me in my tracks, "Are you sure they will want it?"

Um. No, I'm not. The concern then became that I would end up storing things I thought were cool that someone might want but the chance existed that people wouldn't be able to come over to get it or just wouldn't care (we are all kind of having stash management issues at the moment) and I began to get a little twitchy just thinking about it. That meant there was a very strong possibility that the mess would continue to live with me for an undetermined amount of time.

Not such a good plan after all. Two rules emerged for the items that I wanted to have new homes:

1. If I knew for absolute certain that someone would want to have it, it went into a pile for them with the understanding that I would move it out quickly (quickly for me meaning within a week).

2. If I couldn't think of anyone, then it got donated to The Salvation Army. (My favorite charity, by the way.)

90% of what I wanted to get rid of ended up going to The Salvation Army where it will be sold for a donation and good things in the world will be done. Took the sting out of not only letting it go but getting comfortable with giving away things that I had spent good money on (always a sticking point, right?).

Luckily I have a really huge Sali Army right by my house with a drive thru donation drop off. The back of my car got loaded up (three times), I took a five minute drive, they unloaded it and I'm about a hundred pounds lighter possession wise. (They will also come get things from your home. You have to call and make an appointment but it's a really good alternative if you are not able to take it to them.)

I told Mary the Wonder Organizer that the realization that I can just let things go like that so easily was worth the price of admission alone. It had never really occurred to me that that avenue was open to me. Now I won't keep things because I'm not sure how to get rid of them.

But the biggest thing I learned was this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "LATER". The odds are that I won't sort it later (I don't, I have the photos to prove it), it will sit there and take up space and slowly the mess will return to it's former glory.

Lesson learned: Deal with things on the spot. Don't make piles for later. That's my hardest lesson, not only to learn but to keep up with. :)

In the final post, I'm going to share my thoughts on how I'm going to maintain my new found freedom from clutter.

07 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Containers & Labels

* This is the fourth post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.
* See the third post "Reclaim Your Space - Hyperfocus".
* See the second post, "Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help".
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".

Let's talk storage containers, shall we? (One of my favorite topics, love them almost as much as I love post-it-notes.)

**A couple people asked me how I decided what size and quantity of bins to buy. 

In terms of the size, I chose a 17 quart because I knew it would stay reasonable in terms of weight. Super huge bins are out for me, hate them. Can't move 'em, take up too much space, and they are just another black hole. Small and portable is what I need. I also didn't want anything with holes in it, solid sides.

I bought twenty because it was the cheapest way - to buy in bulk (and I had a lot of stuff to tame). The ones I got are from the Container Store and are called "Our Sweater Box". Also love that they are made in the U.S.A.  :)

When the purge began I had all shapes, sizes and colors of baskets and bins. I would take things and put them in the baskets and feel as if I had organized them. Clearly it wasn't working. And those were just the open baskets and bins.

I also had larger containers with lids on them full of stuff. I did some more thinking prior to buying the containers I did about why the containers/bins I had weren't working and realized two very important things:

1. If the items I have are not out in the open or in a see through container, then I don't remember I have it and will end up re-purchasing the exact same items. The phrase "Out of sight, out of mind" could have been written about me.

2. If the box has a lid on it, I consider whatever is in it archived and I'm not likely to go into the box because I've decided the stuff is "old", "not needed" or "off limits." (No idea what that's about but that's how I think about it.)

Knowing these two things really helped because I was able to get rid of all the containers that weren't see through (except for the drawers in the IKEA organizers but there is a solution for that too). And I was careful about what I put a lid on. But really, those two catching points for me pose a big question - how do you create a space that is aesthetically organized when everything needs to be visible?

Here's one way:

Use the container, put the lid beneath it so the lid itself doesn't turn into clutter (had that problem too) and set it on a shelf. (Please note that if you are ever in need of a safety pin, I own 1,342,097 of them. I'm willing to share.)

I also realized that labels are a good thing. I resisted them for a very long time because I felt like I was pigeon holing a space and I immediately felt tied down.

Well, yeah. That's the point.

As Mary the Wonder Organizer said, I've just freed up brain space because I don't have to try to remember where everything is. Things have a home, it gets put there, end of story.

I got a little bit label happy:

Clear, concise and being able to see everything (either via label or clear container) takes away the possibility that I will be buying duplicates.

I have a lot of projects and samples from all the articles and classes I teach. Those went into boxes with lids. I'm happy to tuck those away out of sight. I want to hold on to them for the time being but I don't want them taking up real estate.

The key lesson learned: Simply owning containers and baskets and organizers does not make you organized. They must function the way you need them to, no matter how cute they are. :)

In the next post, I'll talk about how to get rid of the stuff you don't want to keep.

06 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Hyperfocus

* This is the third post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.
* See the second post, "Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help".
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".

Where in the world does one begin when facing this?

The Warehouse Before the Purge

Here is the game I would play with myself: I'd sit in the living room thinking about how great it would be to have the Warehouse (the nickname I give to the second of my studio rooms that is used for storage of various items and completed projects) and how it's not such a big deal. I could clean it up, no problem.

Then I'd walk up the stairs, open the door, look at the mess and flee. 

I still find it curious that I was not able to concentrate on working on a small portion of the mess at a time. I mean, as an Artist, I'm obsessed with details. I can hone in on a two inch square and pack two tons of details into it. But ask me to pick one small pile from the giant heap to sort out and my skin would begin to crawl.

This was the first room to be tackled and I will be completely honest, I was skeptical about it getting done. But I decided on very clear parameters before Mary the Wonder Organizer even arrived with her good counsel: I would not spread the mess all over the rest of the house in order to clear the room (it fit in there or it went away), I would not get rid of everything simply to make space and then have to repurchase it later, and there would be nothing sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.

The purge was about getting rid of the things I absolutely did not need anymore and gathering all the stuff I would use into a cohesive manner so that I would stop re-purchasing duplicates and use it up.

Here's what Mary the Wonder Organizer taught me:

1. Start by making storage space. Take one area that can be used as prime storage and clear that out first. I originally thought we'd start with the center of the room but she wanted to start with the bookshelves. (I had and still have a lot of books. In order to make sure that I won't revert back to becoming a library again, I'm going to start purchasing more e-books. I still love actual books but there needs to be much more of a mix.) The need to provide a place for the things that would be kept was key.

2. Sort into larger piles. Take items that are kind of the same (or at least living in the same box/basket/container) and decide what stays and what goes.

3. If you say the words, "I hate this!" and then put in the Keep pile (as I did with a bottle of pink paint), then that's a clear sign that it needs to go away. Give it to someone who will love it. (I will always have Mary the Wonder Organizer's face in my mind if I do this again, her sitting in the middle of my fabric stash, looking over her glasses at me with an amused expression and raised eyebrows. Point taken.)

4. The mess always gets worse before it gets better. (I knew this one but I still struggle to remember it when I'm standing knee deep in safety pins and sharpie markers.)

5. You can't keep everything. You just can't, you are one person and the likelihood of you using it all within your lifetime is slim. Period. Let it go, give it to someone who can't afford to buy it for themselves so they can make art and create beauty in the world too.

I'm not going to say that I excelled at maintaining an optimistic view of the situation. At the end of the first day, I was really struggling to keep positive. I sort of gave up early in the evening. Mary the Wonder Organizer was willing to keep working but I found that I couldn't decide what to do with a bag of styrofoam bird eggs, I kept shuffling it from one container to another. When earlier I had been moving swiftly through the piles, letting things go and planning what to keep but suddenly I hit a mental wall.

In the end, I realized it's because I fell back into my old mindset of, "This will never happen. I'm going to be left with the same mess and what will I do then???" I panicked, plain and simple. Luckily, Mary the Wonder Organizer came back the next day and when I told her I was so worried we wouldn't make it into my studio and that's what I desperately wanted done, we both committed to doing what it took to get it done.

The support was invaluable.

The key lesson learned: There is always an end in sight. If you want to accomplish something, keep going. You have to do the work. Take a break when you need to and then come back when you are able to make choices that support your end goal. Stay strong. :)

In the next post I'll talk about the clear containers that I showed in the first post, why I chose those and how I ended up using them in the re-org.

05 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help

 Just a quick note to announce the winner of the TAP class giveaway from this post (today is the choosing day!) I hopped over to Random.org and asked it to give me a number and here's what it spit out:

That makes Robbie the winner! Congrats Robbie - hope you love the class! :)


* This is the second post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces. 
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".

After making the decision to tackle the mess, it was time to make a plan on how to get from chaos to organization. I knew one thing for certain: I needed help.

I have tried taming the spaces and heaps on several occasions on my own (you've witnessed it on the blog) and I was not successful for a variety of reasons. If this was going to happen to the extent I needed, I wasn't going to be able to accomplish it on my own.

I chose to work with Mary Dykstra, a professional organizer. The idea for working with a pro came about for several reasons:

1. I wanted someone who, to be blunt, didn't care about my art stuff. I wanted someone who could look at a bag of scrap ribbons and not give me ideas on how to use them. If I wanted to get rid of something, I didn't want anyone trying to convince me otherwise (I'm easily swayed).

2. I needed a lot of help - especially with the labor of it. It felt awkward asking for that from a friend so I decided to remove that discomfort from the equation and work with someone who was doing it for a living.

3. I needed ideas on how to tackle this. I needed help working through the spots that would trip me up - piles, feeling overwhelmed with the scope of the job, deciding what to keep, etc. I knew a pro organizer would stop me from anything approaching a freak out and put me right back on track.

I spent a lot of time poking around on the internet before I called Mary. I liked what she had to say on her website, I liked the way she was so calm when we talked on the phone (I needed the calm) and I liked her positive outlook. No matter how bad I tried to make the situation out to be, she just kept saying, "We can fix it."

Turns out it was the best decision I ever made. She is friendly, kind of goofy (she kept us laughing through the whole thing) and she's really really really really (did I mention really?) good at what she does. Much of the next four posts are things that she helped me learn about my space and myself, I'm truly indebted to her. She left me empowered and feeling in control and kept telling me to stop beating myself up, always look forward.

I realize not everyone can hire a pro organizer. And if you can't, then consider enlisting friends to help. If working through everything in two days is not realistic for you, make a schedule. If I look at the volume of work that was done, it would have easily taken me a year to do on my own. No exaggeration.

The most important thing is that you choose someone to work with that won't judge you, won't make negative comments and will help you with the areas that you need support in. A cheerleader for this kind of work goes a really long way.

The key lesson learned: There is nothing wrong with asking for help. We all need it every once in a while, there is no need to be a superhero. :)

In the next post, I'll share my thoughts on dealing with such large volumes to sort through.

04 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset

* This is the first post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.

I've come to believe that there is no greater kryptonite to motivation then saying, "I really should ______." (Insert your issue of choice: loose weight, clean out the basement, learn to skydive.)

I've been saying for two years now that I really needed to do a deep dive purge on my Warehouse and Studio. Both are small spare bedrooms, nothing fancy or grand, but precious to me because they are dedicated space to my art career.

I've toyed with the idea of a studio outside of the home. Even entertained these for a brief moment. In the end I kept coming back to the same conclusion - the amount of room I have is not the problem, the amount of things I was holding onto was.

Insert the requisite amount of guilt, shame, dread and embarrassment that comes along with having to face something of this magnitude. All I could think about was the Hoarders TV show and how I didn't want to end up on it one day.

Here are two photos of what I decided to tackle:

The Warehouse Before the Purge

The Studio Before the Purge

I knew that if I was going to straighten it out, I needed to change the way I was thinking first. It's like going on a diet and deciding that you'll never loose weight anyway so why bother eating a banana when you could have an ice cream cone instead? I decided there was no point in investing the time, effort and money if I wasn't going to see it through.

I always need to understand the why behind things. I wanted to figure out how it had gotten this out of control and came up with five primary reasons:

1. Retail therapy - I had used the buying of things to comfort me during some difficult times in my life and since I had no organization system in place (which may not have mattered anyhow considering the volume of items coming in), it got tossed in a pile.

2. All the organization bins and shelves I already have are fine in and of themselves - they just don't serve me well. Not all of them are functional for me so it was not uncommon for me to have a pile on the floor with empty shelves of a bookcase next to it. (Changing them out will happen farther down the road.)

3. I'm not physically able to do the heavy lifting (I have back issues) and needed help with the labor portion. Part of me still struggles with asking for that kind of assistance so that became a major contributor to the mess.

4. I felt a tremendous amount of shame at how messy everything was. Most of it came from the negative voice in my head but any time I would hear a comment from someone full of negative judgement, I ran with it and inflated it a hundred fold, telling myself I was a horrible person.

5. There is a lot of history in the stuff we own. Going through it meant that I would have to face it. Not all of it is bad, heck, 99% of it isn't bad. But there was an emotional element to it that I knew would take a lot of energy.

Take note that these are not excuses, but a clear understanding of where I was beginning.

Armed with that knowledge (I love self introspection, feel like I can tackle anything if I understand the why of it), I bought these:

And I made an appointment with Mary the Wonder Organizer (that is the title I gave her after spending two days with her).

But the biggest thing I did for myself was this - I cleared my schedule so that I would dedicate two full days to the task and nothing else. That meant I waited four months until I was able to take the time, not an easy thing to do when you feel like something is eating away at your sanity. But I said, "Self? It's time to do this for you and see it through. Be brave, you can do it."

Was it easy? No. I was stressed, I was worried. Tackling the whole thing in two days was a really tall order. But I wanted to do it, no matter how uncomfortable or long the days would be. I wanted to clear the mental stress and block that it was creating so that I could be free to continue on my art journey. Yes, it was actually preventing me from wanting to work on new projects and grow my art business.

The key lesson learned: If there is something in your life that is really bugging you, make a plan to change it. Once you have some parameters to work within, you can concentrate on the work rather then worrying about the how. :)
So the work began.  In the next post will talk about how I chose to work with Mary the Wonder Organizer and why I think working with someone (friend or professional) is key to success. 

** Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. It's a touchy subject for a lot of us and it's always surprising to me how emotionally charged the topic can be - myself included, I really struggled with whether or not I would write about the experience.

But I've always thought that as soon as I hit something that feels uncomfortable to me, it's worth trying to straighten out, means I've come to a part of my life that could use some shining up. No shame, open heart, moving forward. :)

03 July 2013

The Great Studio Purge of 2013 - the aftermath

When I decided earlier this year that it was time to suck it up and deal with the things in my Warehouse and Studio, I had only an inkling of what I would learn during the process.

I figured I would just get rid of stuff and have some clear space and that would be that. But I've spent the past two days with a professional organizer and inside my head and turns out, there's a lot more to it then just having a lot of stuff.

I want to share with you everything that I've learned. I know there is more work to be done but there's a lot of stuff that got done that I'm hoping might be helpful to you if you are also struggling with the same things I am.

Over the next several days, starting tomorrow, I'm going to do a series of six posts, each one dealing with a single topic. Because there's just too much to write about in a single post.

I can tell you two things now:

1. I am apparently concerned that ziploc bags, sharpie markers and safety pins will no longer be made because I have enough to equip every household in Michigan.

2. I am nothing if not consistent and I prove that by the fact that I have purchased the same book four times.

For today I'd like to show you the before and after photos of each room.

The Warehouse Before:

The Warehouse After:

The Studio Before:

The Studio After:


The posts over the next six days will show more specific photos to deal with their individual topics.

Stay tuned!

02 July 2013

will you help me? quick little survey below! :)

*** Don't forget to leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win a free online class for using Transfer Artist Paper taught by Lesley Riley! A winner will be chosen on July 5th. ***

While I am knee deep in The Great Studio Purge of 2013, I thought I'd put up a little survey.

I've got great plans for my new blog (when this one is retired and Smudged Textiles Studio is up and running) and I've always thought of a blog as a virtual living room. Where you all come to visit and we chat and spend a little time together.

So I'd like to know what you think of what I put up here and how I can better improve your visit. I've got a quick nine question survey below and would be super grateful if you'd take a quick moment to fill it out.

* If the embedded survey doesn't work well, you can also get to it here.

Thanks! :)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

01 July 2013

The Great Studio Purge of 2013 - Day 1

 *** Don't forget to leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win a free online class for using Transfer Artist Paper taught by Lesley Riley! A winner will be chosen on July 5th. ***

So these "before" posts are awkward for me to write. I wanted to take the "before" photos and hide them for myself so I would know how far I had come but every time I thought about posting the photos here, I got a weird feeling in my stomach.

You see, it's somewhat embarrassing, the extent to which the mess has gotten out of control. There are a lot of reasons for it, I've been thinking about it a lot. The biggest conclusion I've reached is that I need to stop beating myself up about it.

It serves no one, mostly myself.

I am where I am and the only thing within my power is to decide if I stay here or face it. I've decided to face it. And since I know I need help, I have chosen to work with a professional organizer. Today is my first day working with her, she will also be here tomorrow. (Although I may be mildly comatose from exhaustion after today so I may not get a post up about it again until mid week.)

I have two rooms that need to be dealt with. One is my studio which you have seen frequently but I also have a second room that I refer to as my Warehouse. Stuff for my etsy shop, my book collection, samples, finished artwork - that's where it all goes so that I don't need to store it in my studio. It is the first heap that is being tackled.

Before I show you the photos, click play on this video. This is my theme song for the purging activities (Think of Rocky Balboa running up that umpteen million stairs while he was training, that's my favorite part.):

And now here they are, the "before" pictures of the Warehouse. The next post will show post pro-organizer state:

 Warehouse Before #1

  Warehouse Before #2

 Warehouse Before #3

Stay tuned...

30 June 2013

where i stand sunday

*** Don't forget to leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win a free online class for using Transfer Artist Paper taught by Lesley Riley! A winner will be chosen on July 5th. ***

I've talked about wanting organization for a long time. Not perfect, just reasonably under control. I hesitate to show photos, feeling vulnerable, embarrassed, cringing at the judgement that I know people will fling at me.

But I know I am not alone. I know there are other artists out there that share the same struggle. So I'll share the journey, offer a chance to see how to find a way out of not only the physical clutter but the mental mess as well.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

29 June 2013

win a free online class with The Transfer Queen - Lesley Riley! :)

Do you know Lesley Riley? Do you know about the product she created, Transfer Artist Paper (TAP)? If you don't, you really should and I'm more then happy to introduce you!

Lesley is known as the Transfer Queen and it's for good reason. I first met Lesley many years ago in Houston at the International Quilt Festival. I took a class with her on making a mixed media book and I remember the first time I watched her to do an image transfer - I was completely mesmerized! It was like magic!

In that class she was teaching it with inkjet transfers and matte medium. But since then she has gone on to create a product, TAP, that is SO much better in SO many ways - it makes transfers super magical!

The thing I like best about the product is that it's not just for fabric and you can draw directly on it with markers and other tools to do the transfer. I don't have an inkjet printer anymore (which is the type you need with TAP) so I love that I can still do transfers in a snap with TAP.

You can use TAP on paper, wood, metal, clay - it's an equal opportunity transfer product! :)

Lesley is making it super SUPER easy - and FUN! - to take a class with her. She's teaching all the things you can do with TAP over at CraftArtEdu. Online classes are my savior - I can take them anywhere, anytime and in my pajamas. :)

In Lesley's class, she shows you all the ways you can use TAP and also a project to put all your new wonderful pieces together:

Not only is Lesley a very talented teacher, she's incredibly generous. And she wants to give YOU the chance to take the class for FREE!

Simply leave a comment on this blog post and I'll randomly pick a winner on July 5th. The winner will take the class for free. And what's more is that my blog is not the only place you can enter to win.

Visit Lesley's blog for a chance to win a free package of TAP!

Visit these blogs for another chance to win a free class:

June 26 - Christine Urias
June 27 - Karen Watson
June 28 - Judy Coates Perez
June 29 - Theresa Wells Stifel
June 30 - me! - You're already here :)
July 1 - Claudine Hellmuth
July 2 - Gina Rossi Armfield
July 3 - Carolyn Dube
July 4 - Liz Kettle
July 5 - Jane LaFazio
July 6 - Joanne Sharpe
July 7 - Pam Carriker

Get commenting and happy blog hopping! :)