Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Waded in the water

Water can be a destructive force.  Water can be a cleansing, life sustaining force.  The traits of water makes it the perfect metaphor for discussing change. 


The flood gave me the opportunity to redo my sewing space.  In spite of the frustrations and added gray hairs and fits of emotion during the restoration, the new space is more open and better.  I had moments that I doubted it would ever come together before spring of next year and at times contemplated becoming solely a hand stitcher.  During this time I thought a lot about 3 hand stitchers whose blogs I read and work I find beautiful, Gerdiary, Jude Hill, and Judy Martin.  I tried to imagine their processes.  I know that I love the pace of hand quilting and find it deeply prayerful.  But I imagined there must be a different mindset when one's primary processes are in a slow hand method.  For one, it is portable which eliminates the requirement of one single location to sew. Second it doesn't depend on electricity (unless one uses a treadle) which gives the option to be outside when the weather permits.  Third, one wouldn't need as many tools which again adds to portability. And possibly, over time, one's knowledge base of how cloth handles and how certain types of needles handle are more keen.  It produces a distinctive "hand" it the outcome of the art.  Although I admire it greatly, the processes, the knowledge, and the outcome, for me it is an additional process and not central to what I want to create. I wouldn't be happy...thus I have to have a "spot" to root to do what I do.


In late September, in the midst of all my artist angst (can't you hear Regina Carter playing the musical score to my blues?), without any heavy pre-planning and human designed intent, I and another artist signed a lease at Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Complex.  A complex I've watched develop since its inception and visit when I want to have an "artist date".  Its full of artist studios, galleries, and retail spaces but maintains the unpolished and raw vibe that attracts me and makes me comfortable.


   It happened like this:  I had been there a few months prior and saw a sign for a sub-lease and on a whim I called it.  After that phone call, I called Estella after and we kicked the idea around...since the summer, on occassions, the topic of "space" would arise in our conversations but nothing with any "intent"....just casually speaking.  It was on that one day late in September when she and another sister-friend, Mary, was able to make it back there with me.  The space was gone but there was another space, an even better space (keep in mind we had no plans that day other than to browse).  We called over to the office and the manager came and told us the scoop...after listening we both looked at one another with Mary's approving glance (you know how when you know people well and a long time you can communicate telepathically?) and said "we'll take it".  Now the funny part is that neither one of us had any money but told Scooter, the manager, that we would return the next morning and be there when she arrived.  It just took us a few hours to rob our own stashes and we returned pronto the next morning.


It is 275 sq. feet.  It offers a break from The Basement Workshop which I sometimes need since the dynamics of my parent's household has changed, not necessarily for the worst, but to the extent my heart sometimes  aches too much to be there as much.  The new space is called The Beauty of Holiness Studio and Gallery.  It will serve as a space to machine needle felt, hand quilt, display my finished quilts, and put small things to sell.  The other artist will use it for displaying items and selling her small pieces and books.  I've known her for close to 30 years and consider her my sister of the heart.  She is recovering from cancer and her recent hand crafts is one of the ways she is helping herself heal.


I have this train of thought running through my head,..how less than 2 years ago I was sewing on my kitchen table and did that for 4 years, trying to make sure I didn't drop needles in the carpet, not get food stains on my cloth, find corners here in the apartment to store my things, the time it took me to repack and sew for a few hours before I had to repack again, and on and on...and NOW, WOW!  We can never know what lays ahead, bad and good, we just never know what is ahead, but the process remains the same and that is to trust the process.  It is easier said when things are working in my favor and harder to remember when they are not and the grief appears all encompassing (like how children use always and never to refer to a singular circumstance not going their way). 

I hope someone finds encouragement and hope in this post.  Not necessarily about artist spaces or studios, but whatever it is that one feels "if something doesn't change I'm going to loose my mind" over.


But as with life, it is always bitter sweet...you can't have one without the other.  For 2 weeks now, we're a 1 car family.  It seems the computer on my car is giving my transmission error messages and totally unrelated to that, my catalytic converter is going out.  The dealer wants a massive amount of money to repair with a base starting in the neighborhood of 2800.  I picked it up from the dealer and its sitting for the moment and I'm only mildly annoyed by it.  I just kinda feel sorry for Peter.  His 91 Camry he purchased new has barely 100,000 miles on it...he does very little driving and me, well, I'm afraid if I calculate how much time I spend in my car it would far outpass how much time I spend any other place.  He works close to the new studio space and that has been convenient and I'm being considerate of his practicality and striking a balance with the amount of running around I do...the real plus side is that we're in the car so much together now that it feels llike when we were "dating".  Now if he comes around and opens my car door like he USED to do, I might take him to a secluded section at UofL's library like we did back in the day ;) (smooch smooch)


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing your new space flourish.

  2. Bless you, Ms. Karen. I am encouraged by your process and journey. I admire that you keep moving forward. The work gets done because you keep showing up. I can't wait to see how your new space evolves. Also looking forward to all of the new work that will be coming out of there! Peace, Deborah

  3. A gift from the universe, Karen -- and one that you surely deserve. There is nothing like a space with other artists and good karma to brighten your life. It will be interesting to see if the work you make there will be different from what you create at home.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. YAYYY for you! very inspirational indeed!

  5. Thank you so much Deborah...the new space is a lesson thus far in patience :)

  6. Hi Rayna, I was reading about your TG and loved the photo of your mother balancing her drink on her walker!!!! I hope when I'm 92 someone will love me enough to hand me a glass of wine!

  7. Congratulations on your new space! I hope that I am reading correctly and that despite the car issues, you are able to keep and use the studio. Beauty indeed.

  8. Yep Kristin...thats right...I'm hoping to find a re-manufactured computer for my car, but so far I'm coming up empty...I'm going to keep searching until mid-January and then I might, MIGHT, break down and get a new one to start the needed repairs.

  9. space is important, i am lucky sometimes just to be happy with the space i create in my head. i am happy for you and hope you find a home in your new one.

  10. hi, karen...just trying to get in touch with you! have you received my emails? email me please. it's about your order. thanks!