First Friday Studio Tour – Sara Kelly

This month we are visiting with Sara Kelly in Hanford, California.

Do you call it a studio or sewing room?  To yourself, to friends and family?  Why do you think this is so?  Difference in starting point between quilting and art?  Thinking of this as a business rather than a hobby?

Mostly I call my room (formerly a bedroom) a studio, although occasionally I say sewing room to people who seem as if they don’t quite get “studio” because they know I sew quilts.  It’s like trying to explain “art quilt” when people only relate to quilts as bed coverings their grandmother made.  I would say that I use quilting techniques to create artwork to display as such.  Even so, the fact is I have veered away from developing my art into a business because I don’t want another career.

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What do you have in the room?  Machines, supplies, fabrics, paints, etc.  Anything that might surprise the rest of us?

My room contains almost all of the equipment and supplies I need (and a fair amount I don’t).  Whichever of my two Berninas I am using sits in the Koala cabinet I installed about 10 years ago.  It has always been too big for the room, but my husband wanted to buy me the most I could squeeze in there.  It gives me lots more horizontal surface upon and under which to pile assorted projects and stuff.

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The other big piece of furniture is my JoAnn’s cutting table, which I try to keep occupied with only the project du jour, rulers, and cutting tools.  It too provides underneath space for storage.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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My ironing space is atop a small cabinet, although I keep a traditional ironing board around for bigger pressing needs.

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How is your “stuff” organized?  How do you organize your fabric? By color? Amount? Any separate categories (batiks, hand dyes)? How do your organize your thread?

It didn’t take long for me to fill half the closet with fabric.  Smaller chunks are stored, mostly by color, in plastic drawers.  Yardage is stacked on hanging shelves, as well as art fabric I have painted or dyed myself.

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The other half of the closet stores beads, novelty yarns and fibers, rubber stamps, and mixed media ephemera.

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Threads are stored in plastic drawer containers that sit on the right side of my sewing cabinet where I can easily reach them while sewing.

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The cabinets under my ironing surface store paints on one side and unfinished projects on the other.

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Finally, I have big tubs of novelty fabrics (silks, home dec., etc.) stored under the back of the sewing cabinet.  I have to be very motivated to dig into them as their location requires some acrobatic maneuvering.

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Do you have anything, supplies, more machines, etc. tucked away in any other rooms of the house?  How many other rooms?  Has a family member or significant other ever accused you of “taking over” the entire house? 

My other Bernina resides in its travel case in a corner of our bedroom along with my portable sewing table.  In the living room I always have a hand sewing project along with various knitting/crochet projects and yarns stored in baskets. I use the guest bathroom to rinse brushes, and my fiber arts book collection has almost completely filled a built in cupboard in the hallway.

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Finally, I have a closet in the garage filled with equipment for dyeing fabric.  Apparently my “oozing” into other places in the house isn’t too obnoxious because my DH has never complained.

How much horizontal surface do you have and is it ever enough?  Do you have to move piles of stuff to cut anything bigger than a fat quarter?

Between the machine cabinet, the cutting table, and floor space I should have enough horizontal surface.  Every pile of stuff has its rationale—usually something along the lines of “I think I might use this for…….”  Oh, and let’s not forget the “PIGS”, a.k.a. “projects in grocery sacks” scattered about the floor.  Needless to say there is a fair amount of shuffling.

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Do you straighten/organize as you go, putting away each fabric as you cut, or do you clean up after a project?  How many projects do you work on at a time and how do you keep them organized?

I tend to pull out absolutely everything I think I might use for a given project, and I always have to go back for more.  It can get pretty chaotic.  I work best if I have a deadline keeping me on task.  Unfinished projects with no finish-by dates I keep sorted in plastic cases or those cool eco-friendly shopping bags. It’s probably better for my sanity if I don’t enumerate them here.

Anything more you want to add about your studio, organization, working methods, etc., please do.

While my studio certainly will never qualify for a spread in Studios Magazine, I hope that the caliber of my work excuses the mess  😉

Thank you Sara for a great tour.  I don’t think it’s ever possible to have enough horizontal space.

See Sara’s work on her blog.

Next month:  A peek at  Jane Davila’s new studio.

3 thoughts on “First Friday Studio Tour – Sara Kelly

  1. Sara I just love PIGs. I’ve never heard it but will definitely use it in the future because I have some of those too! Thanks for the tour!

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