Clearing Project: the Studio

Some updated wall photos, top two by Tracey ClarkI have a major clearing project underway in my apartment. I've been traveling and teaching and making things in a big flurry since July. Between that and the way in which warmer weather coaxes us out into the city, our home environment has been a bit rumpled and tousled.  Or, in the case of my studio, a complete disaster.

So, when my parents were here last week, I employed their superpowers of organization and building projects to devise a new system for my studio.  I had grown into it in fits and starts.  Back when we moved our work spaces into the room, it had a little seating area. Then that became a small mailing center when Fortunes came out.  But then there was Blogher and the Squam Art Fair with its needed supplies. There were the new lomography prints and the new journal, with shipping supplies of its own. Boxes and boxes and no room to walk.

This is the kind of thing that in the past I would have tried to hide from visitors. I'd want to impress my family with my ability to write, go to my events, and still keep my children clean, my family well-fed, and our home immaculate.  I would bust my butt squirreling things away so I could look good. I wouldn't admit that I'm not actually doing all those things effortlessly.  (In fact, I drop some balls for entire seasons. I'm trying to learn how to leave some on the ground forever.) I wouldn't have asked for help, because I would have thought it was shameful.

But you know by now that I don't think all that Looking Good is helping any of us.  I didn't clean much before my parents came. I was honest about the breakdown in my studio--this is a kind of problem that I'm not good at solving.  I knew my mother could do it effortlessly, though, so I invited her in and we surveyed the rubble together.  Then we looked through an IKEA catalog and picked out some pieces that would give me some vertical storage in the closet, and a counter-height workspace with storage underneath it. (See, that counter-height piece was ALL her idea, and I'm telling you--it's pure genius for packaging and mailing while standing up.)

Now. I'm about to show you some photos, but I have some things to say first, in the way of disclaimers.  Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with photos people post of their homes and offices.  I have a strong curiousity about how people live and work and find creative ways to inhabit their spaces.  On the other hand, I hate how immaculate and perfect those photos look all the time.  I can't really believe most people live that beautifully (especially when I'm like, I know her! There's no WAY her studio looks like that all the time).  I know they probably tidy up BIG TIME before the magazines come to shoot a spread or they post on their blogs. But still.  It's kind of like when Kate Winslet tells us the magazines airbrush her photos. It only helps a little bit. We still have that fake image screwing with our minds.

So, I had a whole dilemma when it was time to take pictures. Part of me wanted to get it picture-pretty, at least once.  Just scoot that pile out of the way, and hide the cables under the counter.  But telling you that it doesn't look this tidy every day may not help all that much.  So I'm posting the pictures with the cables and the piles.

This is the magic new table. Complete with updated wall photos. Notice pile of incomplete work in the corner.

Next to the filing cabinet is a David Whyte poem, "Sweet Darkness", that my friend, Myriam, wrote on paper towels this summer.

Here's Justin, my husband/studio mate, working at our desk that looks out the window.  Hopefully that gives you a sense of it, and though it doesn't look this tidy every day, I aspire to have it so.

Now I'm back to working on the living room, and chocolate chip cookie breaks. Getting to celebrate my progress here inspires me to keep going.  To keep sorting through our treasures and spaces, and making room for something new.