November 24th, 2008

ozarque figure

Making science fiction art...

One of my choices when George and I went shopping last week for my birthday presents was copies of pricey art-and-craft magazines -- Somerset Studio, which I've subscribed to for a decade but which has finally set a subscription price I'm not willing to pay, and Cloth Scissors Paper. Both had features about the places artists do their work -- their Studios with a capital S -- with photos, and that got my attention, as well as gales of my laughter.

The studios in the pictures were mouthwateringly gorgeous. There were sentences like these...

"Through a window, sunlight drenches the worktable."
"My studio is in a master bedroom in my Victorian townhouse."
"I use vintage tins to store many of my bits and pieces."
"On the ground floor I teach workshops... Upstairs is my living space and studio."
"The aspect that seems most fascinating to others is the first shelf behind my desk that holds a plethora of tiny glass jars, each of which contains carefully organized accessories..."

And the photos showed perfection. Walls of shelves and cupboards divided into elegant spaces, with even more elegant containers stashed on and in them. Lovely big worktables. Comfy couches with big puffy pillows and beautiful throws. Handsome carpets, or gleaming wood floors. No dust. No clutter. Wowsomeness everywhere.

So I thought I'd tell you about my studio.

My studio is my small bedroom, and my worktable is my bed. [Twin-size, that bed, and electric.] I love my bedroom because it's built like a ship's cabin. Wood paneling on the walls, and a three-inch-tongue-and-groove wooden ceiling. Two walls of bookshelves and built-in cupboards. No windows for sunlight to drench through.

But it's a multipurpose space. My "core" library is in there -- that's all the many books that I need right at hand because I have to refer to them so often. My newsletter office is in there; it's an ugly plastic bookcase right in the middle of the room so loaded with huge stacks of articles and clippings that its shelves are permanently bowed, plus a few plastic file-crates. My writing studio is in there -- in the form of a giant file folder for each project, including one for each of my books-in-progress, and a batch of writing books and files of manuscripts and records of what sold where and when and for how much. My needlework studio is in there; all my pattern books and pattern magazines, big sacks and pillowcases of yarn and oddments, my jars and baskets of beads and buttons, my crochet hooks and embroidery needles and scissors and pins ... all that stuff. My clothes are in there, in a closet along one wall and in a chest of drawers. My gift-stash bureau is in there; all through the year, as I make or buy gifts for the birthdays and Christmases of my extended family, I put the items in that chest of drawers. And next to that is another chest of drawers -- one I had when I was a kid -- filled with a miscellany of things that have overflowed from all sorts of places. My scrapbooking studio is in there -- in two of those big five-gallon buckets from Duluth fitted with the canvas covers with all the pockets. My basket collection is in there, and my collection of metal boxes and fancy candy boxes, and my supply of dried gourds. All my art supplies are in there; my drawing paper and my watercolor pencils and my rubber stamps and my fixatives and glues and my fancy pens and box after box after box [plus file folders] of my collage makings, and my stacks of art magazines, and more. My family history space is in there; that's in albums and files and boxes. My collection of foreign language tapes is in there, including all my Láadan materials and files, and the ancient rusty box of 3 x 5 slips that I used when I first constructed the language. All the three-ring binders from my seminars and workshops and trainings are in there, on the bookshelves.

And that's only a partial list of what's in there; there's lots more. My tv set is in there, and my field recorder, and my CD player, and my recording deck from the days when I still could sing, and my guitar [in its case] and my PDA stuff. There's a tiny narrow path of floor that a person could follow for getting from one batch of stuff to another. The space I have for actually working on my art is the bed itself; if what I'd like to make can't be made entirely on that bed, it's "beyond the scope" and has to be given up. And there is dust. I have the world's thickest collection of dust in there. And of course I sleep in there.

My studio is not likely to be featured any time soon in a pricey art-and-craft magazine. When we have visitors I keep the door to my studio tightly closed at all times. Work, somehow, gets done in there; art gets made.