Studio Report — Why You Should Work on Unfinished Projects

Studio Report — Why You Should Work on Unfinished Projects

Two months ago I wrote about my sudden decision to dismantle my large counter-balance loom, which was taking up about a quarter of the floor space in my studio room, and put it in my backyard storage. If you missed it, that blog was titled: “Catching an Idea by its Tail.”

Into that space I moved my drawing board, rearranged several small tables, and cleaned off my large work table. I now have three good-size work tables where I can make a series of small to medium size pieces of art, or larger items which use the whole table.

Drawing board in center with computer cart on left.

Under my large work table I have a huge basket of fabric scraps, a lidded basket of yarn, as well as smaller containers of natural materials, a box for stencils and other odd things for mark making or stamping.

I weeded my book cases in this room. I organized paper by color and size. I cleaned out several file drawers and shifted things around so I have more space for images I’m clipping out of old magazines.

Twinning project on big table, looking across the room at drawing board



Tall table with wheels next to big table, in front of filing cabinets







In January, once the sycamore leaves were out in the street and picked up, the rest of the yard was calling me. Grape vines needed cutting, three butterfly bushes got pruned, and I took a trip to the dump. This week the sage is getting cleaned out carefully—I encountered two black widows on Sunday.

If I’m spending three hours a day in the yard, I don’t have the energy to start new creative work.

I expected to make art on the days it rained. Guess what? It’s not raining, the sun is out, wild flowers and weeds are on the grow.

By the middle of January, I settled into a pattern of doing yard work after noon, a late lunch, some time on an art project until dinner, then, cutting up old magazines for an hour or so. I want to get images and words for collage harvested out of the magazines so I can use that shelf space to organize the ephemera (junk) I pick up wherever I find it.

I set up an easy tracking system to record what I do in my studio, hoping I’ll feel guilty if there is nothing to write down all week.

I decided to look at three unfinished basketry items I had been ignoring for months. I finished a small knotted item first. Then I took out the much larger twined thing I had started maybe four years ago. I had abandoned the original idea sometime after the bottom was done. About two years ago, I made a new plan and added the spokes all around, worked up about an inch, but put it away because I needed more time to work on my book.

So I’ve been cutting and cleaning in the yard, twinning in the studio, and ripping up magazines before bedtime. The chatter in my head is “the tables are empty, you aren’t making art.” There is this feeling like something is missing. The push to meet a deadline, the drive to complete something (for the writer’s group once a week) isn’t there, and I miss it because I’d gotten used to that feeling. This year the feeling is different, more low-key. Instead of having a calendar of dates to be met to get the book published, I have a relatively open agenda of “let’s see what happens.”

Friday night, I decided to empty out and put away the large carrying basket the twinning project had been waiting in for the last three years. When I got to the bottom, under the extra yarn, I was surprised and delighted to see my scissors with the blue handles that I have been looking for these last two years. Last summer I had declared them lost.

Blue Handled Scissors


So, what treasures might you uncover if you work on your unfinished projects?





2 thoughts on “Studio Report — Why You Should Work on Unfinished Projects

  1. You are so ambitious. And motivated. I am wasting so much time. My projects stay in my mind. Well there are a few on the table, floor or extra bed. Someday!!

  2. You are so disciplined. I’d like to know more about your writing group. I taught creative writing at Delta for 5 years to pursue my photography. I do miss writing so if you would give me some details, I’d appreciate it. Give me a call at 465-3050. I won’t be going to the mixed media group next time because I’ll be out of town or send me an e-mail Thanks.

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