Friday, September 10, 2010

On cleaning the studio

The Quilt National entries are finished, photographed and mailed.  Now what's a girl to do?

It's not like I don't have anything else in progress.  When I decided in February to put my Quilt National eggs in the basket of fine-line pieced quilts, I had two postage stamp quilts (like Regatta and Memorial Day over in the right-hand margin of this blog) substantially underway.  I could probably get one of them finished in less than a week of work.  And I have a couple of pieced tops that I made three years ago, designs that I'm very proud of, all ready to quilt.

But somehow when you finish a huge project you aren't always ready to leap right in with another one, especially if no deadlines loom.  It's a good time to cleanse your artistic palate with a nice refreshing sorbet and not think too hard for a couple of days.  When I find myself in this pleasant place, my favorite thing to do is to pull out a bag of scraps and make something frothy, maybe a baby quilt.

So why did I decide instead to clean out my studio? 

Yes, it sure needed it.  I have spent several days puttering around, putting things away and cleaning, and feel a great deal of accomplishment.  My ironing board now has nothing on it but the iron!  The fabric I had out for the last four or five quilts has been put back in the drawers, and the small scraps and leftover bits sorted into ziplock bags for future use.  The wastebaskets are full and the walking space around my work table is considerably wider than it was two weeks ago.  Many items missing in action for months were excavated from the debris.  All the thread has been put away in its proper drawer, and I even rolled the thread ends back onto the spools.

Yes, an outside observer might still think that the studio was just vacated by hostile cops with a search warrant, but I recognize how much better it looks than it did two weeks ago.

I've never subscribed to the concept that a messy desk means a messy mind.  Sure, I'd love to work in a huge, clean, uncluttered studio where everything was in its place and I could serenely glide about finding anything I wanted in one minute flat -- wouldn't you?  But I'd also love to have that huge studio in the first place, with the acre of storage space, the nice cabinets and the army of elves to get everything organized, then come around behind me and put things away when I'm done with them. 

Several years ago I decided to clean up my studio once and for all.  I spent two months at that project, and the place did get a lot neater, but it never even approached that perfect state of bliss I thought I was supposed to crave.  Finally I decided I could either keep on cleaning, or make some art.  And decided I'd rather make art.

I have listened to many an artists' discussion about how we put obstacles in our own paths, and have decided that one of those obstacles is the need to clean out the studio before getting started on the next project.  What a convenient and effective means of procrastination!  Since then I have been searching for the happy medium, cleaning enough so the health department doesn't shut me down but not enough to occupy the best part of my time, energy and imagination. 

Besides, it hurts to be in the studio and not turn on the sewing machine.  How long can my current attack of cleanth last?  Stay tuned.


  1. AMEN, Sistah! I try not to feel too guilty that I would rather create than clean and it is nice to know I have a partner in crime.

  2. Gosh I wish I had read your post before I decided that it was absolutely essential to clean out the insides of my kitchen garbage can- which was really an excuse not to confront the Post-Quilt National blues! Thanks for the post.