I’ve spent most of the holiday break working on my house (surprise). My home is a never ending project, and I am always surprised at how much emotion I can stir up just by stirring up my space.
This time the project is to turn my studio into a sewing space. I didn’t wait to start sewing until I had a perfect sewing room or a new machine or a better chair or new tools. I set up my ancient two-stitch sewing machine in a 36″ x 24″ corner of the guest room and got busy. The living room floor became my cutting table. The clothes in my own closet became patterns. For most of last year, sewing made me excited to come home from work and do something besides zone out.
It became obvious by late last year that the guest room had been overtaken by sewing and my little cramped corner needed to expand. My Christmas gift to myself was to turn my studio into a sewing room. I think it’s a great way to highlight what is working in my life and what brings me happiness.
The studio is a large space off the kitchen area. I think it’s supposed to be the dining room, but it’s oddly placed and has the washer/dryer. It’s a pretty big room, so it would be such a shame to just use it for a table.
When I moved here, that area became my painting studio. For a long time it worked really well and then somewhere in 2016 I just stopped painting. That room became a catch-all for laundry and homeless projects. I wasn’t sure why I stopped painting, and I felt guilty about it. But at the end of December when I was pulling paintings out of that room and stacking them in the living room, I realized that I stopped because I’m not empty anymore.
Painting is a very solitary experience for me. It’s something I did alone. Painting helped me cope with my feelings of being alone and lonely and it shows in my work. I would come home from the office and put on my painting pajamas, pour a glass of wine, turn on the Johnny Hartman music and paint until I got sleepy. It relaxed me, and it helped me express some very intense emotions about love and intimacy and isolation.
The work I created over the past decade is dark and moody and empty. It is not everyone’s taste. I’m not sure it’s my taste anymore. There was no way to resolve this… and then it dawned on me that there is no need to resolve it! I haven’t been painting because I don’t feel empty. There’s probably happy painting in my future, but right now all I want to do in my free time is sew.
I’m always having to prod myself to move forward instead of stopping while looking back. That’s how I fall into inertia. Over the winter break I stacked the canvases to the side, rolled my supply cart into another room, deep cleaned the room and made a space for today’s projects.
Sewing is what sets me on fire right now. It makes sense to use the space I have to focus on what I love NOW instead of what I loved three or five or nineteen years ago.
The project has taken most of the week, three trips to IKEA, and a lot of help from The Captain. It’s almost done, and when it’s finished I’ll take pictures for you and post a little tour. I’m excited. And a little nervous (because it’s change, and change at home is weird for me.) And of course it has reminded me that I need to declutter again, that staying tidy is a process, and that all of this dust up is a good way to usher in a new year. Nothing is bolted to the floor so there’s no reason it can’t all re-shuffle again in the future should the winds of change blow through my house again.
We are all embracing change.