Monday, October 10, 2011

Quilt storage revolution

Yes, I believe that cleaning the studio is an excellent form of procrastination, so I try to do it as little as possible.  Yes, I believe that too much organization is the death of creativity.  Nevertheless, every now and then I find myself sucked into the maelstrom of home maintenance.  This time it happened because I needed to get to a quilt at the bottom of my storage pile and that was enough hassle to make me want to change my ways.

I have always used one of my guest bedrooms as quilt storage -- everything was piled on top of a queen-sized bed.  Actually that's not a bad storage method, as long as you protect the quilts from the sun (I keep the curtains drawn and usually put quilts on the bed face down) and as long as you don't need something from the bottom of the pile. 

Which I do every now and then.  Sometimes I could just fold the upper quilts back and pull the one I want out of the middle without disturbing things too much.  Sometimes I yanked, just like that science experiment where you pull the tablecloth out and the dishes stay put, except that it never worked out quite as well for me as it does on TV.  Sometimes I had to dump the top layers on the floor and put them back after I got what I'm after, preferably with a helper.

But it's never very easy.  And so this time I decided this was dumb, my whole storage concept needed a makeover.

I spent a lot of hours last week sorting through the quilts, pulling out everything old for "remote storage," sorting them by size, and rolling them into what my husband always calls body bags.  Had to stop every hour or so because I was working on a bed, which was too low and gave me a backache.

But here's what I ended up with.

These eight rolls hold 72 quilts, and that's not everything I own.  All the new work, current enough to be entered in shows, will stay on the bed.  The most recent batch of show quilts, which have probably outlasted their shelf life, will go into one roll, easy to retrieve in case I need them.  All my small quilts are already sorted out and stored in under-the-bed boxes. 

You might wonder whether I have just traded one unwieldy pile for another.  Clearly the rolls can't stay where they are, blocking access in a second guest bedroom.  And no, I don't know where I'm going to put them.  They will have to stay horizontal, which makes it more difficult.  But I'll figure that out this week.

I know this is not the ideal method of quilt storage.  Actually, the ideal is something very similar to what I started with -- laying the quilts flat on a bed-like platform -- but ideally you have only a half dozen quilts in the pile, which requires a lot of platforms.  I know some people who roll each quilt individually, but I don't have enough space, nor enough pool noodles, nor enough old sheets, to do that.   I haven't cushioned between the quilts with archival tissue paper or insulated the rolls with muslin.  But they are rolled up neatly, and arguably safer from environmental insult than when they were lying on the bed.

Ideal or not, I feel very good about this accomplishment.  Not only will it make life easier when I have to get a quilt out for a show or demo, it gave me a feeling of freedom, that a burden had been lifted.  Now I'm hoping that my free feeling will translate into a new burst of creativity.


  1. I always wonder when I see large numbers of quilts (and you are a successful artist)--- did you price the work too high, so it didn't sell; did you not want to sell it; how much of it do you display in your home?

    I have quite a bit less, but they bother me. I know great painters have stacked paintings (whole barns full) so it is something that comes with being creative. But it still seems sad.

  2. Joanne -- I really don't want to sell my work, especially the good stuff, so often I either display it NFS or put high prices on it. And much of the stuff in that pile isn't very new and/or very good, so I wouldn't sell it anyway. I do have some things on display in my home, and I give some away, particularly the older quilts.

    My husband frequently says "what on earth is going to happen to all these quilts when you die?" and I wonder too. But I guess I won't be around to learn the answer.