Today’s we take a sneak peek In the Studio with Finkelstein Center Toys a local Charleston handmade toy maker. Owner, Michelle Jewell shares how and where she works and some of her personal Studio clearing and organizing tips! These photo’s are not styled and are typical of what her working studio looks like on an average day.
The idea for this series, Inside the Studio began in while I was attending an art retreat at Penland. While there I observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. In this series I’m interested in showing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process.
Finklestein’s Center Interview and Studio Sneak Peek Part I.
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
MJ::I always knew I was creative but its hard to say exactly when I knew I was an artist. I don’t think I considered myself an artist until I was able to make things that were entirely my design, not commissioned or influenced by another person. Before then, I never really thought about it. Since art has always been apart of my life, various mediums were my pastime.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with and are there specific tools or materials you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
MJ::I work with fabrics like fleece, cotton and faux fur for my sculptures . For my other pieces I paint, use clay or stitch and add that to canvas for the 2-D pieces. The hardest thing to keep organized for me is the stuffing! It takes up so much space and we need lots and lots of it!
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
MJ::I currently make my art in my home studio. I am bursting at the seams in 340 square feet. I have been in my home studio for a year and a half. While there are great and convenient things about it, I am ready to move on.
HKPS:: How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process,
organizing systems or other influences?
MJ::I run my toy company which sells in our online store, at markets and wholesale. I also do contracted design work for companies. Additionally, I make personal art pieces like our recent exhibit at Redux. There are always lots of projects brewing! I don’t consider space when taking on a new job or project. It doesn’t occur to me that I might not have room to house everything until after I’ve said yes. I would much rather make the space work than turn down great and fun opportunities.
HKPS:: When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things
evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
MJ::I began using just our one room addition- which was planned around some furniture pieces from my previous studio. As the company grew, I expanded into an additional office room to house inventory and patterns. Over time, we also out grew that room and I took over a small extra bedroom for shipping and packing supplies. Most of the process have evolved organically and out of necessity.
Check out the second half of Michelle’s interview in Part II! Also, please see more of her work here, where you can shop online and see her show schedule. If you are in Charleston, you can still visit the show at Redux::Rufous: The Stuff of Life until March 28th. Check it out!
If you are struggling with the cycles of order and dis-order in your creative process I’d love to help! I offer custom in person and virtual organizing, please contact me for more info or see my services page.