rayna gillman's blog         improv quilts & an improv life

Another day in the studio; I've been there most afternoons and when I'm not, I'm working at home--(i.e. today, as I write this to procrastinate the tough stuff). Mostly editing videos, for better or for worse, and doing paperwork.

Yesterday I started to shoot a studio tour for you, but there were so many images of my floor as I was moving from one spot to another that I decided it would be better to give you the tour in still photos, which do not include the floor (or the audio). So here's what we'll do:

I'll pretend I'm narrating a video and you can pretend you hear me speaking.😂😂🤣

Here's the view from the door as you enter the apartment. On your right, the 6'x 6' design wall. This is where my gray quilt hangs as a backdrop when I'm talking. But I took it down because I was actually using the space to "what if?" and I came up with a few other arrangements for my blocks. AHA!

On the left, the messy table where I talk to the camera, sew, cut, and iron. Not much space but I make it work. Beyond the table, to the left, is the rest of the studio part.

Straight ahead my Lady of the Studio, the tripod for my iPad, and behind it is one of my two big studio lights. The table was my kitchen table in NJ and it's a good place for Happy Hour if I am still in the studio late in the day. On the wall, a gorgeous African batik which you can't see well from here.

Anybody remember these?? My mother sprinkled her ironing with it and then, rolled it up and put it in the freezer if she wasn't going to iron something right away:-). Brilliant! I used to do it with my linen, hand-embroidered tablecloths. (of course, I usually forgot and found the tablecloth frozen solid a few months later).

Brookdale Beverage made soda in Bloomfield, NJ, which was the next town, and they delivered. Glass bottles, of course. This bottle is from the 1950's, when I was growing up. It has been with me since I first got married in 1963. These days I use it to fill the steam iron.

Here is my design wall, a while ago. These days it is full of blocks and the results of a few "what ifs?." I won't show them to you because I want you to find your own way to put them together when you take my class. I'm still experimenting.

These two guest chairs, immediately left of the door ( they are usually a resting place for my purse) were in my NJ studio. I made the seat covers with wonderful Indian batiks I found in a warehouse in the south of France. The pillow on the left is contemporary fabric and the green pillow is fabric from Usha's Handloom Batik. The little doggies on the windowsill that look like doorstops are actually antique boot scrapers.

Here's my wonderful antique thread cabinet (there are probably still some Star Threads in there). It, too, has traveled with me. My friend Audrey gave it to me years ago when she was moving and no longer had room for it. What a gift!

a closer look

I have untold numbers of bins full of fabrics, plus half of a wall-to-wall closet in the bedroom/guest room. The beds come in handy for storing my quilts.

But I digress. Here are my favorite fabrics to work with (as if you didn't know). One of about 3 bins of Handloom Batik. This one holds the biggest pieces; the others are smaller pieces and scraps - of which I save (and use) every tiny bit. Usha's family manufactures these in India and she is responsible for many of the colors. Just look at those yellows! All you need is a tiny scrap to add a spark to whatever you are making.

I also have a ton of African fabrics of different kinds. This bin holds my favorites. On the right, African batiks, which could never be mistaken for other batiks and next to the Indian batiks of Usha's, are my favorites. Some I brought back from Cape Town, others I bought online, and some I found in Paris, where I found most of the wax prints on the left. This bin also contains Shweshwe fabrics, the traditional South African roller prints (often two-sided) which the women use to make there wonderful clothing.

The bin below was a lucky acquisition. My friend Susan's daughter sent them to her from Africa, but Susan doesn't sew. So I was the lucky recipient. I can't remember which country these come from but not South Africa. These are mostly dress fabrics and they are not the highest quality but they are beautiful and I have used some of them in strips.

My studio would not be complete without bins of Helene Davis' drop-dead gorgeous hand dyes. This bin is the tip of the iceberg. Remind my to show you the quilts I made some years ago with only Helene's fabrics.

Go to the Jefferson Street Studios website (just Google it and it will take you there). If you are ever in Paducah, it is a destination. Otherwise, the phone number is on the website and I encourage you to call Bob (it's his phone) and he'll see that you get some of those incredible, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Below, one of the many bins of random strips which I use constantly when I am sewing. Most of my bins look like this, not to mention various plastic containers and more plastic bags...

That's enough (or more than enough) for today. Procrastination over; materials due tonight or early morning. Back to work!

Leave me a comment to cheer me up:-). Let me know how you store your fabrics. Those Pinterest photos of unfathomably neat shelves that I have never seen anywhere but in a shop, are simply not believable. Or is that how you store your fabrics? What do you do with your itty bitty scraps ? Or don't you have any?


Updated: Apr 22

Pat Hanna sent this picture of her studio, which is only in my dreams. Such a beautiful big space!! She gave me permission to post these.

Looks like about the size of my design wall, which is 6'x6'. What a luxury!

And isn't that sweet? She has my book right near Nancy Crow's. That's as close as I'll ever get. LOL.

Ok, you slackers - what about the rest of you? Post a photo in your comment (I think it's possible).

I've spent a few days trying to cut down on the chaos here and I can't see much of a difference but I'm making progress. Right now I think it's time for me to go home. I have been working on the wall and what-if'ing. It's my favorite part.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's studio tour and leave me a comment or two. Conversations with you always cheer me up!



*Got up late and eating breakfast as I type this (at lunch time).

* Reheated yesterday's leftover coffee.

*Went to unload the dishwasher and discovered I had forgotten to put it on last night.

And so on...

I had meant to get to the studio this morning because I have a quilting friend coming over this afternoon. She's cutting up blocks and bringing them so she can play while I work on my class stuff.

This is my Lady of the Studio. She stands next to the design wall and watches over me as I work:-). She was unclothed when I bought her decades ago at a house sale when I lived in New Jersey. I found her in the basement and schlepped her home in my station wagon. She stood in the corner of my livingroom forever and always made me smile. She's a 1950 size 12 (which would be a size 16 by today's standards). I dressed her in some vintage clothing (love that apron) and of course, brought her to Florida when I moved. I really should give her a name.

The table was in my kitchen in NJ and the placemat, as you can tell, is made from random scraps. I really need to finish the other three. Uh huh.

Ok, breakfast done and I'm heading to the car for my five-minute drive to the studio. It is a one bedroom/one bath apartment and one of these days I will give you a studio tour with more pictures. What does your workspace look like? Is it a spare bedroom? (mine was when I lived in New Jersey). Does it make you happy to sit down at your machine? Ifyou want to take a picture and email it to me r.gillman@studio r.gillman@studio78.net. I'll post it. What fun!

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.👍