Christina Lane is a quilter that I came across over the past year while doing some work within the quilt industry. I admired her work, ordered this pattern from her and decided to reach out and ask her to be interviewed here. She agreed~yipee! But we had to wait a bit because she was in the midst of a studio revamp. We corresponded over the summer as she got things moved around and settled into her new space and we were finally able to connect last month to finalize this interview. Patience pays off and Christina’s new studio space is beautiful and efficient. She obviously has many talents, thus the name The Sometimes Crafter and she did an excellent job planning and executing this new space!
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
CL::I’ll let you know when that happens… Artist? I really don’t feel like I’m an artist, at least not by my definition of the word. I enjoy art and creating it, but “artist” to me means someone creating lasting masterpieces, and I guess I just don’t feel like sewing and quilting fall into that category. To me, they will always be crafts, and I’m proud to be a crafter. Perhaps “master crafter” would be a better definition for myself, but I definitely don’t feel like I’m an artist.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with?
CL::Primarily, being a quilter by trade, I work with fabric and thread, but I love working with all sorts of mediums. The time of year and my mood influence what I feel like working on (as well as deadlines, I am most creative when procrastinating a deadline). I enjoy painting, drawing, calligraphy, screen printing, graphic design, embroidery and cross-stitch…really, nothing is off limits.
HKPS::Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
CL::I create in my home studio. It’s in the front master suite of our home, and is rather large for a master suite. It’s the perfect home studio situation. It’s away from the main sleeping quarters of our family and right next to the front door. Because I’m a long arm quilter, there are times a client wants to come to my space, and having it be right in the main entry is the perfect setup. I’ve been in this room for around 3 years now. Prior to moving in here I was in a smaller room at the other end of the house (now my sons room).
Being in this space allows me to work into the night, with the long arm running, and I don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone. I have a beautiful view out to my backyard, right to the play structure my son plays on. He’s 6 now, and can be outside without me, but I still like to keep an eye on him and this allows me to work and see what he’s doing.
I originally moved to this space when writing my book a few years ago. My son just happened to be older and ready for a room of his own (he had a small “nursery” off our room before) and I wanted a space that was away from where we slept so that I could work well into the night without disturbing anyone. The space just got an overhaul in January of this year due to the arrival of my new, and larger long arm. We replaced the carpets with laminates and I purged about half of the “stuff” I had previously had in the studio. I lost a few storage cabinets and was bound and determined that anything in my room go on the two and a half shelves I had or else it had to go.
I like everything clean and organized, otherwise I dread going into the space to create. It’s been 6 months and the room is still not completed, but I imagine it will always be a work in progress. I still have my main fabric cabinet in the living room, so something needs to be done about that, and I lost a cutting table with the room remodel. I currently cut on the floor, but have plans for a drop leaf table top on one of my walls. My main wall behind my long arm is bare, but I do have a curtain rod up along it’s length so that I can hang quilts and take photos. (The quilt in the photo-above is a clients quilt that is hung for me to take photos for blogging about later.)
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?
CL::I am a planner. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. If there isn’t a place for it, then it has no place in my room. I measured my furniture and plotted it out in Illustrator. The new long arm would eat up a lot of space, not just the use of 14.5 feet of wall, but also a good amount into the room itself. The room not only needed to hold the long arm, but also a desk for computer work and sewing, and some cabinets for storage. While lots of planning went into the bones of the space, some things have evolved organically.
I do a lot of computer work and drawing for new quilt and quilting patterns, so I needed a dedicated desk space, and if I had to set up my sewing machine every time I needed to sew, it would never happen. The long desk in the space was essential, as well as having my monitors off of the desk. Monitor stands eat up desk space, and I like to have two monitors to work on, so it was always planned that they would be mounted on the wall.
HKPS::Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
CL::If you haven’t guessed by now, yes I am very organized. Some people thrive on a chaotic messy space, but I need clean and organized to create. If I walk into my room and its disorganized or a disaster, I will turn around and walk right out and avoid the space like the plague, so it’s essential to my creativity that it always be clean and ready to go for the next project.
HKPS::Have you ever worked with another artist or gallery? If so did you learn any systems for organizing?
CL::I have always worked on my own, but enjoy reading about other artist spaces to see how I might improve upon what I have in place. There is always room for improvement.
HKPS::How or where else have you learn your organizing habits and systems ?
CL::I am a Capricorn through and through and I love to be organized and love organizational-anything. When I first discovered the Container store in my teens, I was in heaven. IKEA was the best thing ever to come to the United States; it made my little organizational heart go pitter-patter. We are so lucky to have one just 20 minutes down the freeway in Portland and i’m always scouring the catalog for new ideas and inspiration.
HKPS::What types of schedules, systems, tools or processes do you use to help maintain organization in your studio? Would you like to share any tips?
CL::Despite how much I like to be organized, and make lists and schedules, I’m not very good at scheduling myself to maintain organization. I’d love to say that on the first of every month I download and archive photos and sort through fabric and discard what I don’t think I will use, but that has never happened and probably never will. I am organized to a point, I suppose.
The best practice I have learned is to never leave for tomorrow what you can do today. This holds true for many facets of my life, not just when creating and keeping organized. If I want to create, and walk into my space and find I want to leave again because of the disorganization, I stop myself and get to work cleaning. If it’s a big mess, and overwhelming, I start with one facet of the mess before moving on to the next. I owe this to my mom. When I was a little girl, and my room was a mess, she would come in with me to help direct cleaning. I would feel so overwhelmed and she would sit on my bed and hold the laundry basket and say – Let’s start with the dirty clothes on the floor. I would pick up all the dirty clothes. Next she would sit on the edge of the bed with a garbage bag and say – Let’s pick up all the garbage. Finally, she would have me pick up my toys, starting with all the dolls and then all the books, and so on and so forth. It was a wonderful way to teach me organization in cleaning and I now use this system with my son when his room gets messy. I’ve added to that having bins and spaces for everything.
Of course, when I create a mess I try to clean it up as I go, but when i’m in the throes of a deadline that doesn’t always happen.
HKPS::What kinds of materials/tools do you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
CL::A place for everything and everything in it’s place. If I have small items that need organizing, I find small containers to corral them in within drawers. I try to group items by their use, all zippers and cording go together, as well as long arm tools or buttons and snaps. Within shelves I use clear bins so I can see what I need and even those are organized by their task – watercolors, calligraphy, solid scraps of fabric and embroidery thread all get their own bins.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
CL::I almost always have a few projects going at once. I always joke that I have crafters ADD. I get bored with a project and have to do something else for awhile. Sometimes it’s due to deadlines for various projects, but usually it’s due to my inability to work on one thing for long. On the top of my shelves in my studio, I have some galvanized bins that I use to store my various works in progress. Those are usually the projects that are set aside with no real date of completion in mind. This is a case where I don’t use clear bins. Because these bins sit out, and are full of various sized projects, it’s much neater looking to not see what’s inside. If I have a few active projects i’m working on, and they need to stay organized, I have a few clear containers I use to organize those. Everything stays together, I can see what each project is, but I can still stack them to the side neatly. Currently i’ve keeping my projects that need completing within a certain time frame on a shelf of my IKEA cart, that way they are always in sight (out of sight, out of mind), but still organized neatly.
HKPS::How often do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space due to space or other constraints?
CL::Purging usually happens when the room is getting changed up. However, I do try to do some sort of annual purge in January. I love decorating in the fall and winter for the season and holidays, so by the time January rolls around I’m done to put that all away and get back to my clean palette. Things are setting down and i’m making my resolutions for the year ahead, so it always feels like the best time to clean out the supplies and organize the broader “mess” I’ve made during the year. After the holidays, and the last minute gift making scramble, the studio is always in need of a little upkeep and reorganization.
HKPS::Please describe how creative cycles of organization or disorganization affect your creative process? Are there certain phases of projects that are more or less organized?
CL::Having a 6-year-old means I get interrupted a lot during the day. I think because of this, more so than other times in my life, I must keep things organized as I work. There are many times I have to step away, and I’m thankful for a dedicated space that allows me to leave out a mess, but if I don’t keep myself organized as I go along I will lose my pace and forget where I am. When i’m designing a new quilt I have steps that I follow and I try to keep to those steps before moving on to the next. I always begin with planning the design on the computer, and then I move to figuring out my fabric and how it will be cut. Once that is an organized list, I select my fabrics and press them all and then cut them all. After this step everything is cleaned up and put away and prepared for sewing. If I clean up before i’m done cutting and get pulled away for an hour, I might forget where I am, so the mess stays until the step is completed. I continue on in this manner throughout the project, cleaning up only after each phase is completed, but I do clean and organized in phases. While there are instances where creative chaos inspires me, cleanliness and organization spur me on more.
HKPS:: How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records?
CL::Quilts can last for hundreds of years if made with purposeful care and thought. It’s not a work of art that will last forever, and I want my quilts to be used and enjoyed for as long as possible, so I take great care when I make them. Most of what I make is given away, so my archiving is in the form of photos and blog posts about the work. However, after writing Quilting Happiness I am left with a large pile of quilts and have yet to find a way to store them. For the first time in my almost 20 years of making quilts I’m facing a challenge of storing these precious pieces. For now, they are folded up in a box in my bedroom, but I do believe a quilt hutch will be making its way into my living space soon. There are “proper” ways to store and care for quits, but that kind of goes out the window when it comes to everyday use and love.
My wish is that through seeing how other artist work we can learn from one another. There is no ONE correct system or way of organizing. There are as many creative systems as their creative makers! My aim is to highlight these unique makers in each interview. Thank you so much Christina! I seeing the beautiful organized space she created! She was also generous to take the time and provide photo’s for this (virtual) interview and I hope you enjoyed learning how organizing affects her creative process as much as I did! Please check out Christina’s beautiful work over HERE and learn more about her patterns, calendars and quilts.
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!