Welcome back to another sneak peek into a Fab Fiber Artist studio, Dee Clements of Herron Clothier. I’m so thrilled to be sharing her work with ya’ll because I’m very proud of Dee! She and I met (as roomies) back at Penland in 2011 when she was there for a weaving workshop and I was there for a textile exploration class with Jason Pollen. Dee and I have stayed in touch via the interwebs…mainly facebook and now instagram. Why am I so proud of Dee? Well, she’s a super sweet, hard working and talented weaver and since we met she has mastered the art of moving (to Maine, back to Chicago and a bit of a pit stop elsewhere if I recall) and more important her own art of weaving! Dee’s textiles have been picked up by several national brands and you can learn more about that over on her blog and her work has outgrown her small studio space. I am truly grateful she’s invited us in to see and learn more about her organizing triumphs and challenges, especially as she’s about to move studio again! If we are lucky maybe we will get invited back into her new space but for now I’m happy to share her un-staged, real working weaving studio!
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
DC::When I was a kid, I was always drawing or making up some craft project for myself. I was a bit of a latchkey kid so I learned how to keep myself entertained and I could sit for hours with an art project or just drawing pictures with crayons and be perfectly content. I am still like that and I still love crayons! I have some things in a box from my elementary school days and there is this packet from my first grade class that we had to fill in answers to. One of the questions was what do you want to be when you grow up? And I wrote in my first grader check scrawl, an artist or a veterinarian.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with?
DC::I’m a weaver. I like to use natural fibers, nothing that is chemically processed. All of the fibers I use in my woven work are from small US farms.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
DC::I have a space behind my home that I use for my studio. I have three large floor looms an industrial sewing machine, an overlock machine and a cutting table along with shelves of yarn. I am beginning to outgrow my space, as my business grows, I am at the point that I am looking to move to a commercial studio space. This is both very exciting and a little scary.
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?
DC::I have a general idea usually of how I like to set up my studio. I need to have all things set up so I can just move from sewing machine to loom to table easily and organically.
HKPS:: Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
DC::Yes and no. Organization is a thing I am constantly working on and trying to improve. I am not organized by nature but I strive hard to be. I have systems in place that work for me. I have learned how to use spread sheets and folders, that is helping me a lot. I organize my yarns by fiber and color and size so that I am not searching for something when I need it quick. It’s still a work in progress though, my organizational skills.
HKPS::Have you ever worked with another artist or gallery? If so did you learn any systems for organizing?
DC::Yes, I have worked with lots of artists and galleries. Organization is not really the first thing that comes to mind when working with them though.
HKPS::How or where else have you learn your organizing habits and systems ?
DC::It’s nice to visit other people’s studios and see their systems, especially ones that work well. I have also learned really good tools for organization from past employment.
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?
DC::Hmmm, systems. Well I use a lot of file folders and shelves. Shelves for finished products, shelves for yarn and file folders for invoices, paid invoices and my reciepts and expenses. I keep good records in a n excel spreadsheet for my business stuff and I like to use old coffee cans to hold my tools. Organization is something I am constantly working on and teaching myself. I am messy by nature. As my studio grows and expands, it will be important to keep things labeled and make sure everything has a place that it lives. My studio is an organization work-in-progress.
HKPS::What kinds of materials/tools do you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
DC::When I start working I use things and put them down where ever I am, I am a messy worker in my studio. I usually get into a flow so I lose things all the time when I am working. Mainly small tools like bobbins or my snips or my pen. I keep detailed notes while I weave and I am always losing my pen!
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
DC::Anywhere between 3-9 projects. I have projects booked through next Spring and it is a matter of prioritizing by deadline. I am moving into a new commercial studio at the end of the summer that is 700sq ft as opposed to my tiny 200 sq ft right now. I am really looking forward to spreading out a little and feeling the delight of having actual space to move around in. right now, I have a lot of shelving and things in jars and folders to try and keep organized. But I am definitely busting at the seams.
HKPS::How often do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space due to space or other constraints?
DC::After every project I complete I usually do a big clean up. I like to freshen the space for the next project. I try to use everything because I hate waste. That said, it has to be necessary to be in my studio and it has to be utterly useless for me to get rid of it.
HKPS::Please describe how creative cycles of organization or dis-organization affect your creative process? Are there certain phases of projects that are more or less organized?
DC::Large scale commissions are usually messier for me than my production weaving projects. For my wholesale accounts, I keep very organized. I have to for my clients. I work in a very systematic organized way when I am production weaving and making products. For my tapestry pieces, those are more art based and my process is more free. I let myself deviate from my weave plans and I like to get messy. Because those are essentially my “art” and one of a kind, the chaos of messiness with them helps me creatively.
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?
DC::I give a lot of thought to this. I keep a very detailed archive of all my work and I keep detailed notes and sketchbooks of all my pieces and the processes of making them. I use high quality fibers, I work with small us fiber farms, I never use synthetic fibers. My work is heirloom quality and I am a perfectionist about that. I want my work to live on after I am gone.
My greatest 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. A HUGE thank you Dee for inviting us into her studio (despite being in the preparations for moving) and sharing her small working space through her photo’s, her personal systems and how organizing affects her creative process. Please check out her work over at her website and learn more about where her work is available now and in the near future (CB2 etc…)!
* 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!