First Friday Studio Tour – Colette Herrin

This month we travel to Kennewick, Washington, to visit with Colette Herrin.

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?

 I call it a STUDIO.  I am an artist and artists work in a studio.  It took me a long time to be able to call myself an artist, so having a studio is like a rite of passage.

Colette Studio 2  Standing in the doorway looking into the studio

The difference between quilting and art is a point of reference and is different for each person.  For me, it was when I allowed myself to be free and think out of the box and just do what I wanted to do, what felt right, what looked good, and what followed the rules of good design essentials

Colette Studio 2To the left of the doorway is my design wall

Colette studio 10Sitting at my work station and looking across the room to the design wall and some more art work above it.

I am continually told that I could make a lot of money selling my art and some of my everyday quilts.  That would be nice, but I don’t want the pressure.  I enjoy sewing and creating so much – I just can’t imagine spoiling that for myself.  For three and a half years, I was a creative consultant for Pfaff sewing machines.  That was a blast.  I traveled all over the United States teaching sewing/quilting classes and had a ball.

Colette studio 3
Every studio needs a cat

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

Fabric, lots of fabric.  A must.  There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a creative moment and not having the right color fabric.  I have lots of supplies:  paints for fabric, and paints for silk, watercolor paints for painting, big bin of lace and threads and cording to couch.  Lots of bits of what I call specialty fabrics such as silks, linens, organza, etc.  If there is an acrylic ruler out there, I have one in my studio.  I seem to be an acrylic freak.  I think I have every known gadget for sewing also.

Colette studio 6
My work station showing my tool bar and some of my art

I have my books neatly arranged in a book-case so I can get to the one I want quickly.  Colette studio 4

There is a laptop or two in there and we cannot forget the kitty bed. There are several machines in my studio: one for regular sewing and embroidery work, one for quilting – has a 10 ½ inch throat, one for serging and one for felting.  The one I use to take to retreats and classes is in a tote bag and in another room.  Since I’ve taken up beading, there is also a drawer full of beads and supplies.

I have discharge paste and embossing powder and crystals to add to anything that might need a little bling.  My knitting and cross stitch endeavors are also in the room.

Colette studio 9
In my white cupboard there are many things – patterns, project boxes, supplies …

Anything that might surprise the rest of you?    YES!!!!!  I have a neon sign that is kept on 24/7.  It says “OPEN”.  It’s blue and red and at night when all the lights are out, there is a purple glow from that room.  Neighbors have been known to come over and ask what the purple glow is.  Why the light?  To remind me to keep an OPEN mind while creating.

Colette studio 5
My sewing station with my Open sign

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

My cotton fabrics are sorted by color.  I have separate sections in my shelves for hand painted fabrics, hand dyed fabrics, batiks, collections of fabrics, etc.  I have a stack of novelty prints, a stack of polka dot, a stack of stripes and so on.

Colette Studio 7
My closet where my fabric is stored
Colette studio 8
The fabric

My thread is sorted by type and then by weight since I have so much of it.  I use a tower of drawers  along with sulky see through boxes for my thread.

Thread storage

Do you have anything, supplies, more machines, etc. tucked away in any other rooms of the house.  How many other rooms? (My husband likes to talk about that one.) Has a family member or significant other ever accused you of “taking over” the entire house? If you have a separate building, we want lots of pictures.

I have my retreat/class machine in another room (as I mentioned earlier).  I also store my retreat/class bag with iron, fan, extension cords and Ott light — all ready to travel — there.   A second bag is empty (somewhat) and waiting for projects to be packed into it whether I am going to a class or retreat.  I have not been accused of taking over the house, yet!

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?

I have a fair amount of horizontal surface.  As you can see from the pictures, my studio is arranged in such a way that everything is in the middle of the room and I walk around the edge.  The cutting table from Koala  measures 72” x 36”.  I have my ironing board and the extensions on my sewing cabinet to the left and to the right of my machine.  My cutting table was much higher than my sewing cabinet so my husband built a platform for my cabinet so I can use the cutting table for supporting large quilts, etc.   Makes it all very handy.  I can drop my sewing machine to a height below the horizontal level making even more space available for cutting purposes if needed.

Do you straighten/organize as you go, putting each fabric away 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 like to clean up as I go.  I do not put everything away after I have cut something out, but I will fold up the remainder and make a pile of fabric off to the side for the project.  Any specialty tools that I might use will be put away when I am finished with them.  I will work on three or four projects at a time.  I keep them in project bags and have the bags ready on the cutting table for when I might feel like working on them.

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

Colette sent a photo of her only grandchild, Luke, for whom she enjoys making quilts, and his first quilt, well as photos of her first two postcards.

Thank you Colette for inviting us into your studio.

Next month: Lauren Calaby.

4 thoughts on “First Friday Studio Tour – Colette Herrin

  1. Thanks Collette, for sharing your studio. You have inspired me to get to work on organizing my fabric in stacks rather than the bins I have them now. And that grandson is absolutely adorable. I have two grandsons and love making them quilts as well.

  2. WOW! Colette! Your studio is fantastic. I envy your ability to keep it all so organized and neat. Loved the pictures! You will inspire all who see this interview. See ya’ soon.

  3. Your organization is inspiring! It’s fun to get new ideas. I also LOVE the neon sign. A great reminder that creativity thrives when you have an open mind. Thanks for sharing your creative space with us.

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