From Studio Tours

Give Your Studio Space A Makeover

give your studio space a makeover, Lu and Ed

Clutter and chaos stifle creativity, but I think we as creatives tend to be pretty messy folk sometimes, huh? At least I am but clutter disrupts my inner peace, it silences my muse and depletes my motivation. Of course, we always try to tidy up, to put things in their proper place, but when you find yourself in a flurry of fantastic inspiration returning your scissors to their special space just doesn’t seem a top priority, does it?

Recently I was at a turning point with my business and had to tame my crazy, wildly messy, haphazard-piles-of-stuff-everywhere-you-looked studio. After months of struggling to keep up with my inventory, I had finally reached the point in my business where I could afford and need to hire an intern to help with production. We’d set up the schedule and my intern’s first day was on a Thursday. I’d been creating and making non-stop for weeks so there were piles of all sorts of things every which way you looked. I walked into my studio the Saturday before my intern was to start and just saying “Whoa!” I mean, really, I’m surely not that sloppy, am I?

Okay, maybe I am. Maybe when I’m intensely inspired I get a little carried away and just toss stuff to the side rather than putting it back where it belongs. Maybe I am really good at playing Jenga with boxes I plan to upcycle for shipping. Maybe my fabric closet was so disorganized and jam packed with fabric I couldn’t close the closet doors.

So I set to work. Here is how I got my clutter under control and gave my studio space a makeover!

SORT & DONATE

I tipped forward five foot tall shelf in my closet and let my fabrics just fall to the floor. Some were crammed so tightly onto the shelf I had to pull out wads of fabric! It was pretty horrific, really. I folded and started each piece of fabric and when finished, I had two whole bags of fabric to donate that I just had to finally admit I was never ever going to be using. It felt amazing to step back and look at my tidy fabric collection! I even broke down all the cardboard boxes in my studio and reduced the (five) stacks to one small corner of boxes beside my shelf of fabric, hidden behind the doors of the closet!

But then I closed the closet doors and was taken aback by how much clutter there still was in my studio, even after putting all the fabric away. My studio is in the tiny third bedroom at the very back of my cozy little home, it’s not very big at all. Not much room for storage solutions. I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out some storage solutions for the remaining clutter.

TURN UNUSED WALL SPACE INTO CREATIVE STORAGE

Then I had a brilliant idea, one I think maybe other people may like to borrow for their own spaces – take storage UP, all the way to the ceiling. Save floor space and use wall space for clever clutter control! Below I will share how I used previously unused wall space for creative storage solutions in my studio and include some ideas you may like to incorporate in your spaces to free up floor & surface areas!

First up, I used an old over-the-door towel rack thing to hold hangers and hoops in my studio. I can see these being used to hold a variety of things in small studios – skeins of yarn, jewelry, scarves, or maybe even canvas bags to hold smaller supplies, like paint, beads, card stock, printer ink, etc.

Right beside the closet, I have a little nook. To make it a functional space, I brought in my craft show displays – why not use them for their intended purpose, holding products, right? Then I hung my thread rack & art from friends, as well as a shelf/coat rack thing I found in our garage. I stored card stock, my bookkeeping things, sewing machine supply boxes, and more on the shelf near the ceiling and used the hooks to hold a basket I filled with cards and stationery for my business and my headphones and other odds and ends.

I hung more art above my desk, and also a shelf to hold tape, business cards, photo props, a bin for miscellaneous tiny things & some note books and on my table, a basket to catch works-in-progress.

I used the outer ring of a 5″ hoop to hold my washi tape stash and hung it on the wall – no more MIA rolls of washi tape! You could also use this idea for ribbon & twine or bracelets if you are a jewelry maker.

It took two days to get my studio tamed and tidy but when I was finished putting away the final few little bits and I looked around, I was ready to take the greatest step as an entrepreneur with a fresh, clean slate and calm mind and welcome my new intern into my tidy tiny studio. As an added bonus, I’ve discovered with all this wall storage it’s easier to keep my space picked up & keep clutter off surface areas now!

Everything I used for storage in my studio was either thrifted or gifted, or just hanging around the house!

Here are a few other tips for creative studio storage:

  • Hang baskets from the wall by their handles for easy access storage.
  • Get creative with hanging shelves at various heights on the walls – and get creative with how you store things on the shelf, too! Use vases & small boxes to keep them tidy, or glass jars to hold buttons, pens, paint brushes, polymer clay, etc.
  • Stack bookcases for floor to ceiling for the illusion of built in storage and use cute baskets to mask clutter.
  • Install colorful cabinet door knobs on your wall to hang things from.
  • Hang a series of buckets by the handles – bonus cool points if you spray paint them each a different color and use them for color coordinated storage for supplies like yarn, beads, thread, polymer clay, card stock, or paint.
  • Use tiny shelves to store tiny things – figurines, thread, bobbins, little containers of jewelry parts, etc.

Now it’s your turn: try giving your studio/workspace a makeover this week and tell us all about it in the comments or share your ideas for studio organization!

Getting To Know – Jennie Walker of A Little Vintage

Jennie Walker - A Little Vintage Doll

I’m really excited to be starting a new series of interviews here on Oh My! Handmade.  Interviews with makers, artists, designers and small business owners at all different stages of business. I’m always interested in how other adventurers in the world of creative entrepreneurs run their businesses, get inspired and how they got started in the first place. I was thrilled when Jennie of A Little Vintage agreed to join me for the first Getting To Know post.

Jennie Walker first came onto my radar via Instagram – her process photos of free motion sewing on vintage fabrics and gorgeous dolls never fail to delight. I simply had to know more about the artist behind the Frida dolls and jewelry crafted from vintage tablecloths.  So, without further ado, let’s meet Jennie!

A Little Vintage Doll

Hi Jennie! To start with, I’d love to know a little bit about you and your business.

I make hand painted dolls/soft toys, but also love repurposing fabrics into brooches, neckpieces and art works with free motion sewing. I’m originally from New Zealand, but have lived in England for many years and we are now residing in Australia!

How much of an impact has living and travelling overseas had on your art?

I think living overseas does open you up to other cultures and ways of doing things. The realization that not everyone is the same and that you don’t have to do things a certain way. (hinting at my ‘make it up as I go along’ way of doing things maybe).

Jennie Walker Odd Bunnies

How did you get started making dolls?

My daughter’s favourite stuffed toy (a lamb named Gordon) was looking rather slumped from so many hugs. So the Mr came home one day with a huge bag of stuffing. I had quite a bit left over, so thought I’d have a go at making my own soft toys! I actually started off with a bit of hand sewing :: my Grandfather had given me my Grandmothers linen tea towels after she passed away, so I had a lot of tea towels I had bought back to New Zealand from sales at Laura Ashley in England – I ended up hand sewing them all together to make a table cloth! Decided to buy a sewing machine after that!!

You predominantly work with vintage fabrics. Why do you choose vintage materials over new ones?

I don’t like seeing the same mass produced fabrics used all the time. It’s very boring. Using mainly vintage fabrics, or cutting up an old outfit even – it has a lot more meaning, creates a lot more interest and is different!

jw work space

What does your typical work day look like?

It’s always changing. I’ve tried to have a routine, to plan ahead more – but I find that quite restricting. Things always turn out best when I don’t plan, when I am in the zone. Sometimes this means working on custom orders late at night, because I need to get them out of my head. I need to see how they will turn out.

What do you love about running your own business?

The main and most important thing is being able to be around for our daughters. But also that I have the choice of what to do/make – though I do need to learn how to say ‘no’ sometimes!

Jennie Walker A Little Vintage Doll

What do you find the hardest?

Probably the social media aspect. I love Instagram, but find the other forms very difficult to keep up with! They suck up so much time.

What is it about Instagram that you love?

It’s the whole visual aspect – the immediate inspiration from so many amazing views of life. Seeing things from different points of view, along with reading why something meant something to someone.

Jennie Walker Handpainted Doll

Do you have any secrets to balancing business, family life and self-care?

That’s a hard one. Making time for your children, yourself and making. Let alone the housework, partner, self-promotion and everything else …  Prioritising is so important. The children come first and Facebook is way, way down on the list!

If you could give someone just starting out on their creative business journey one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t listen to negative talk from people around you. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I had listened/believed what people (my parents) thought of what I was making when I first started. Move away from that negativity and find positive people to surround yourself with. Making evolves, what you are creating now will change slowly. Don’t give up on your first ideas, see where they take you. I would also say to push through the frustration barrier – we all have that. Getting through to the other side is a wonderful feeling. Just get on with it.

Jennie Walker - Free Motion Sewing

Where do you find inspiration for new products or when you’re feeling blocked?

This has happened a few times recently. I have made myself sew sew sew. Free motion sewing. This has turned into the neckpieces and big floral brooches. They started out as therapy sewing/gifts for some special friends – happy mail.

If you could spend a year living and creating anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you make?

I’d probably want to go back to Portugal or the Greek Islands. I’m not sure what I would make. I think the surrounds would dictate that. I know there would be a lot of colour, a lot of character. Above everything else, I crave making something different. Something that people haven’t seen anywhere else. Why bother if everything looks the same?

Treat yourself to some of Jennie’s work:

Etsy Shop / Society6 Shop

Connect with Jennie via Social Media:

Blog – A Little Vintage Doll

Instagram – @alittlevintagedoll

Facebook – A Little Vintage

Twitter – @alittlevintage1

Flickr – A Little Vintage

Match + Maker: Mariko + Jessika Studio Tour

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Mariko Paterson of Forage Studios 

Last month I got an email from one of my Canadian creative icons, Janine Vangool of Uppercase Magazine, asking if I would like to interview a ceramic artist living in my very own town for Issue #21 coming out in April. After doing my thisisreallyhappening happy dance I speedily said YES with likely a little too much eagerness! Once the scary chaos of January ebbed I put on my winter boots, grabbed the camera, told my nervousness to shush and headed the four blocks through lovely snowy Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to meet Mariko of Forage Studios. I expected we would talk about her work and hopefully connect but imagine my joy when I realized Janine had paired us perfectly, we were totally kindred spirits! What are the chances of finding another creative, multicultural, from Vancouver, collaborative, tattooed lady in our little town? I don’t know but thankfully they were in our favour! During our interview I learned about her detailed process and journey as a maker and our conversation roamed exuberantly through her work, life, community, love and back again. By the end of it we were talking about more visits, collaborations & hosting some creative gatherings in our town! Before I left Mariko asked if I was up for swapping taking some photos of her work for an upcoming show which got me to thinking about our Skill Swap theme this month…

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

It was pouring on the walk home but my fuzzy new friend feeling kept me cozy and I had this fun, wacky idea sparked by Janine’s amazing matchmaking skills +  Mariko’s Red Bird match maker mug  + Valentine’s Day + how awesome it is to meet new makers for visits and hugs. I thought: why don’t I start a series of posts & match up makers who live close to each other for an interview or studio tour?  So last week on a perfectly blue day I took a pile of photos of Mariko’s studio and asked if I could share some of them with you for our very first instalment of our Match + Maker series. I’m not going to spoil my Uppercase interview  by sharing our conversation. Instead come with me for a tour of the bright studio of my lovely new neighbour and invite you to fall in love with her creative talent & beautifully illustrated and detailed ceramics too!

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! HandmadeCome on in!

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Inside Mariko’s sunny studio

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Mugs from Mariko’s ‘Strong Men’ series!

FightForLove

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade BirdBowl

Boat Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

Even the bottoms of Mariko’s bowls are gorgeous!

Match + Maker Series, Mariko Paterson, Forage Studios & Jessika Hepburn, Oh My! Handmade

 Mariko & Angus one of her three mini-daschunds

While we wait for our Uppercase interview to be published in April (go get a subscription if you don’t have one already!), come meet Mariko, say hello & get yourself some of her ceramic handmade goodness!

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

Want to be part of Match + Maker and sign up to be paired with your creative match for visits and interviews? Let’s collaborate! If you are a community member pop into the forums today to be the first to sign up or visit us on Friday when I share a sign up page + more info here for Love Day.

Today let’s show Mariko & her mad maker skills some love in the comments! We’d also love to know what do you think about Match + Maker?