Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Quite a Room of One's Own

My basement art room in progress
Ever since we moved last summer, I have been looking forward to having a real art studio space where I can get all my stuff organized, with enough shelf space to keep my work table clear so I can just plop down and dive in whenever I get the urge to create.

But it hasn't quite worked out that way. Just as the garden had to wait until other more pressing home-improvement projects were completed, the basement finishing, with art room and TV-watching room on either side, has been on hold, first because of those other more pressing projects (kitchen, bathroom, central air conditioning that still isn't working), and now because this is the time to act on those gardening and landscaping projects.

And, to be fair, it's not that I'm constantly feeling the urge to create stuff with no place to answer the longing. For a while, I was digging around in the various boxes in the basement whenever it was time to make ATCs for a monthly exchange I participate in with a few friends (two of whom I've never met in person, but still regard as friends—or perhaps I should say comrades in arts). I would bring the selected supplies up to my desk in our nicely appointed home office in the second bedroom on the main floor, complete my project-in-miniature (ATCs are artists' trading cards, and they are the same size as other trading cards), then, eventually, gather up the tools and supplies and bring them back downstairs.

An art bunny photo shoot using the natural light of an east window in our first-floor home office
When I brought things back downstairs, I also started to gradually move them into the space that was slated to become my art room, and get them somewhat organized in some freestanding shelves that didn't require finished walls behind them. That was going pretty well, and I was beginning to think that I might be able to create a serviceable interim studio, when I was persuaded that my art room and the family TV room—really two sides of the same large room—should switch places.

Now, my husband is far more expedient than I am, and I will sometimes admit that if it weren't for him, nothing would ever get done around here. So, he moved my shelves and various storage containers to the other side of the room, and, to be fair, tried his best to keep everything in the same order that I had it. But, since my "order" follows a spacial logic that exists only inside my head, he failed.

So I found myself back to spending fifteen minutes looking for something so simple as a glue stick. Compounding that was the return of my creative and lovely daughter, whom I adore, from college for the summer. She tends to borrow my stuff and doesn't tend to get around to always putting it back.

Grandma's sewing machine, from the factory

If you follow my Etsy shop at all (see how cleverly I slipped in that link?), you may well wonder how I could post so many items there if I have no space in which to work. I will tell you. All of the drawings were done before 2010, the note cards are made with scans of these drawings, and most of the rest is either knitted (which I do in my living room chair) or sewn. My sewing machine (a fabulous old factory machine that my grandmother used when she worked at Lockets Liberty Garments in the Wyman building in downtown Minneapolis in the 1930s and '40s) is located in the laundry room, and my small projects don't require much table space to cut out.

Grandma at the factory, ca 1940
And a good thing, that; because it is my capacity to create something, at least, that keeps me from being completely frustrated these days. The garden, too, involves a good deal of creativity, both in the form of problem-solving challenges and good old freewheeling artistry.

But I don't intend to wait until gardening season is over to get back to doing some paper arts, including making ATCs. In fact, with some muggy days in the forecast, and the a.c. sitting idle until Wednesday (crossing my fingers), I may be spending a little more time in the basement soon.

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