Reinvention — or How I Stopped Sewing and Learned to Love Comfort

The time has arrived. I am no longer doing textile art. I am no longer a textile artist. The sewing machine has not stitched for months, and the room I have called the textile studio, the front room in this big old house, had grown dusty. When I had my hip replaced, the room became a space to put a hospital bed; the textile equipment was shoved against the walls and the room looked even more forlorn. With the hospital bed removed, the hip healed, and my painting work continuing to take up all the available time, I knew Decisions Had to be Made.   I have a perfectly fine external painting studio in which to continue making art. So–

The front room, formerly the Textile  Studio, is to be turned into a Comfy Quarter.

The impetus for this change is my recognition that I can no longer pretend to be a quilting artist. However, equally forceful in the re-imagining of the room is that a couch will be delivered Friday. And too, I recently learned how comfortable real furniture can be, particularly when one watches TV, a TV that had inveigled itself into the textile studio last year when I wasn’t looking.

Above is a photo of the U-wood Front Room, post-hip surgery and before reinvention. The draped chair is on loan, and is draped both to keep me warm and to protect it from possible spills of popcorn and soda during our TV watching. The white cabinet on the right houses the long-neglected sewing machine; the cabinet beside it holds (more) thread. The tables have been folded away in the basement and the utilitarian stereo equipment shelves are to be reorganized. The incoherence of the room might be said to echo the incoherence of my thinking about continuing to work in textiles.

I am blaming my friends Ron and Janet for making me reinvent both room and myself*; they loaned me a recliner after the hip surgery that is so comfortable that I can’t bear to think of going back to the old rattan butt-biters which we’ve used as casual chairs for years. Prior to borrowing the recliner, we tried to buy a couch, only to discover that one doesn’t buy a couch; one orders a couch, which will be delivered long after the hip has recovered. Hence the borrowed recliner, which will go back home after the New Year. But after ordering the couch and experiencing the borrowed chair, I decided I had to have a new, equally comfortable, chair of my own. This new chair and the couch will have to be worked into a room that is already too full of utilitarian but useless cabinets, sewing equipment, folding tables, and whatnot. So, reinvention of the space as well as reinvention of the self-image was/is in order.**

The first thing that had to be removed, however, does not appear in the above photo. These are the vertical lights, custom-made 15-plus years ago, for seeing and photographing designs and finished work on the design wall. The 8-foot fluorescent bulbs flooded the room with color-corrected light. They were beautiful, carefully crafted wood pieces with lights attached, precisely balanced, with wheels and a handle to move them around as well as shelves and cubby holes for art equipment. They also took up so much room that to try to reinvent the room with them in it was futile.

Luckily, John, who designed and built the lights, built them so they could be taken apart, provided one had a tad of engineering knowledge. And equally lucky, Ray, another artist friend, is painting canvases in the basement of his recently acquired home and has engineering knowledge enough that he decided he could find a way to use the lights even in a low-ceilinged place.

You can see the cabinet without its light as Ray disassembles the ballast compartment that holds the weight that balances the 8-foot height.

Even knowing the lights as well as I did, I was startled to see the number of parts that Ray had to disassemble. My admiration for John’s work grew as I saw what he had crafted.

The coup de grâce, however, was that Ray carried the lights away from our 111 year-old-house in his Model A truck.  Somehow that seemed fitting for furnishings that I loved and that were important to so many good years of my life. If they had to leave home, it was good that they do so in style.

To be continued, for sure…  June

*Janet blames our new big screen TV for the demise of my career as a textile artist — or at least for the paucity of our current blogging.  But that’s far too conventional an explanation; I need to discuss the philosophical and psychological inferences embedded in the decision to reinvent.

**The confusion of tenses in this blog reflects the confusion of the partially dismantled, partially re-mantled room. We are past some things (the lights are gone) but have some things still present (the rattan chair), and are anticipating new things (couch and new chair). So time is a bit muddled.

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4 Responses to Reinvention — or How I Stopped Sewing and Learned to Love Comfort

  1. thelmasmith says:

    June, I can not believe that the vertical lights were built fifteen years ago. I remember your elation when they arrived. I lusted after them and finally “settled” for a four foot sunlight fluorescent on the ceiling of the arizona workroom.

    Muddling is just another word for my premise: I go around in circles until I know where I am going. It works for geography as well as for life.


  2. Tani says:

    Oh . . . you don’t move nearly as slowly as you think . . . I envy your energy!

    PS . . . I covet your beautiful floors and large windows. My poor development house is a bit sterile in terms of this type of aesthetics. It suits two busy music teachers who have little time for house maintenance but doesn’t exactly satisfy our desire for character and design.


  3. june says:

    Sue, I’ve actually been muddling for some years about this transition, so this change seems to be happening fast. Fast, that is, for someone who moves more and more slowly these days:-)

    I had that thought about stitching whilst sitting in the new chair — it stunned me, since I have not done any hand stitching (except when unavoidable) in about 20 years. Or perhaps, more accurately, in my whole life, although when I first started making quilts, I did them all by hand. I didn’t own nor know how to use a sewing machine until the early 1990s.


  4. I like the muddled transition – you need time and the opportunity to change direction in a journey that is an evolution. And, who knows, maybe stitching on the sofa/new chair may become your evening pleasure whilst entertained by that big screen…..!


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