This month we travel to England to visit with Myfanwy Hart in Fleet. Myfanwy’s studio renovation has been interrupted by some health problems, but she has graciously offered to show us her current workspace, and share her ideas for her future studio and some of her work.
Do you call it a studio or sewing room?
At the moment I don’t have a specific place to work. My ‘studio’ is no more, and, until I can continue with the details for the renovation, it will remain like that. I have had severe back problems since last summer which have severely curtailed my creative activities. However, I’m still having fun – more about that later.
What are you planning to have in the renovated studio? Anything that might surprise us?
Well, this is the theory…… I need room for all my machines. All? I have two computerised sewing machines, one little basic sewing machine that I use for machine embroidery workshops and 13 Embellisher machines. No, that isn’t a typing error – I have 13! I had the first Embellisher machine in the UK and have written a book and made DVDs on the subject, so 7 of my machines are for lending to students when I teach. The others are examples of all the machines on the market that I trust. (I don’t trust all makes of these machines). I use most of them from time to time – take the examples around when I give my talks – but most of all I USE my Janome machine. This hasn’t given me as much trouble as some of the others. There will be storage space par excellence too – eventually – and water for dyeing and mixed media work. The way things are going it might be a while, though…..
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)?
Almost all my fabric is hand-dyed. I also teach dyeing and dye a range of threads and fibres for sale – so I can always squirrel away the ones I don’t want to leave home yet! I have mountains and mountains of thread samples – all catalogued with recipe references and books of details of the dye recipes. I use a number of different dye methods, and very little leaves here having only seen one dyebath.
Just a few of my helpful dyeing instruments
My very reduced outside dyeing area
Do you have anything, supplies, more machines, etc. tucked away in any other rooms of the house. If you have a separate building, we want lots of pictures.
Currently our ENTIRE HOUSE is overtaken with bits and pieces! I have even had to move some dye bits and pieces into our almost outside bathroom! I sometimes use this for dyeing. My husband takes great delight in saying to telephone callers “I’m sorry, she can’t come to the phone at the moment, she’s dyeing in the bath.”
We also have a small supply business – called Winifred Cottage – and we sell machine embroidery mixed media supplies as well as my own hand-dyes. We don’t have a shop but move around visiting specialist courses, colleges and groups. There are very few supply shops in the UK; many quilting suppliers, but not many that specialise in my sort of creativity. My first studio, shown below, hasn’t been used as a studio since about 1990, but it is current filled to overflowing with boxes of stock.
My first studio
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?
If I need to cut anything I do it on a bed! I have a board that I place on top and use that as a base. My current working space is very small – you will see that in one of the pictures. It’s hard to get used to only a small space after having a whole room.
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 work on many at a time. Almost all my work is Mixed Media – apart from the Embellisher I love working with paper. I also use odd bits and pieces as I find them. I try to be methodical – starting with an idea – sketching and note-taking then on to sampling and finally the piece. I am currently working on a series based on Alzheimers. I’m investigating the feelings and thoughts of the family carers of sufferers, if anyone has anything to contribute I’d love to hear from them. Obviously anything that is said is held in the strictest confidence.
I am very careful to keep projects ‘filed’ in an orderly manner. I use storage boxes of various sizes. At the moment EVERYTHING is filed in boxes! The studio was being planned when our severe wet weather hit – suddenly the storage place was damp and not suitable at all so our ideas had to change. We had a winter of wet weather, but you probably all know about that. Dampness is the terror of textiles!
Some of the damage caused by the recent storms
Anything more you want to add about your studio, organization, working methods, etc., please do.
I’m also delighted at how popular my recent introduction of the Facebook group ‘Be Creative’ has become. We have just had our third weekend session and some lovely interesting work was produced. Some of the Postmark’d Group are taking part and it’s been wonderful to get to know them in a new way.
Until I can sit for longer at my sewing machine I am concentrating on mixed media – I have to stand to use any of the machines, and that isn’t comfortable for long.
Thank you Myfanwy for sharing your ideas for your renovated studio and letting us see some of your work.
Next Month: Some changes in some studios