Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome to My Studio

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Studio!

Photo by Home Companion, February/March 2003
It may be all sunshine and roses where you are, but in my part of South Carolina we're still soggy and shivering from our dreary weekend. It was perfect weather for snuggling up with a copy of Mary Englebreit's Home Companion, if the rotten economy hadn't killed the magazine.
(Boo hiss bad economy! Take away my go-to source for creative living? Curses on you!)

The February/March issue was always a favorite because it featured a tour of artists' studios. Emma Bridgewater and Matthew Rice, of Bridgewater Pottery are shown in the photo above. Wouldn't you love to work in a place like that? I get energized just looking at their workspace.

Of course I'd enjoy my writing work even if I had to sit by the toilet on my bathroom floor (okay, maybe not--I do have messy boys, remember?) but I have found that my work goes better when my workspace is inspiring. Notice I didn't say clean--I can work fine with coffee rings and wadded up paper on the table, even dirty dishes from lunch if I'm writing up a storm. But if you were to put out my ironing board, for example, my creativity would shrivel up in seconds, squeaking out, "I'm melting, I'm melting."

So I thought I might share some pics of my office with you, and maybe if you're feeling generous, you might share what you have in your space that sparks your imagination.

I work in what should be the dining room of my house. We lined it with bookshelves and made it into an office. (Who needs a fancy place to eat Spaghettios anyway? Just kidding Mom. No need to send vitamins.)

Here it is.

You can see the one problem I have, (not to call my husband a problem.)
The space isn't just mine. Everyone in my family uses it. Occasionally I have to pull a child out of my chair by the ear or stand behind my husband and sigh loudly, but that's okay.

I keep some of my favorite things out to inspire me. That old planter is full of letters from readers and friends, and I keep my index cards and other supplies in tarnished old sugar bowls and tea pitchers that make me happy.

I've also kept the first picture my editor sent me of the cover of French By Heart. The artist Betsy Everitt designed it, and it still makes my heart go pitapat. (Remember the mystery picture above it? I like that too.)

You know what else I love? My silly print of vegetable people.

Here. Look up close.

I got that for a few cents at a flea market in Paris. It's just an ordinary advertisement for Bon Marche.
See, here's the back.

I keep it in my office because it reminds me of exactly what memoir writing is supposed to do: tease the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Oh, and Baby Jesus hangs out in my office too, watching over me.

I know he's supposed to be part of a nativity set, but he was too pretty to put away.

Baby Jesus also watches over this series of old French postcards Todd gave me for my birthday. It shows a couple disrobing at a restaurant.

Well, now that I look at it again, only the woman is disrobing. The man is just enjoying the view.
Don't have a heart attack, people. It's not as racy as it sounds, but it is fun. Click on it and take a look for yourself.

Here's more useless but pretty junque.

Now, on to the useful things...

That box holds little bits and pieces I need for my, newspaper articles, notes written on index cards--things that jog my memory for my work in progress. I also love composition books. I've tried making notes on looseleaf paper, but I was always losing them or forgetting where I put them. Bound notebooks work better for me.

Here's another tool I use sometimes to organize my thoughts.
Shutters and index cards on clothespins.

The clothespins fit great into the shutter, and I can move notes around as I like.

Right now I'm using this accordion thing I taped together.

Each notecard is a one sentence chapter summary. It helps me keep an eye on how my chapters flow into each other and tracks the movement of the story.

I used to do the same thing on pieces of notebook paper taped together,

But the accordion of index cards folds up nicely and travels well in my laptop bag. That roll of paper kept getting smushed and torn.

So that's my office and some of the weird things in it. What about you? Do you love your workspace or hate it? What gets your creative juices flowing? I'd love to hear about it.

Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all.
Before you go, enjoy this awesome studio/loft tour of Philadelphia artists, Shauna and Stephen.

Love, Becky
PS. Almost forgot. Tanner the Slobber Dog hangs out here too. How could I forget him?


Leah Skaggs said...

it's the shutters I love. a metaphor for the writer's soul for sure...shut away from all us voyeurs until you are ready to share. plus a very pretty organizing tool! love it.

Barb said...

Hi Becky,

Your studio suits you! Very creative and filled with things you love. I know you must hear this daily BUT is there a new book on the horizon? Can't wait.

love ya,

TattingChic said...

What a very cool work space. I like all the inspirational whimsies you surround yourself with; esecially the vegetable people and the disrobing couple, LOL! My work place is on my front of the TV, LOL!

rochambeau said...

Love your studio! Especially like your Grandville Veggie people.
And your husband as part of your fixtures! ;-)

Welcome home, hope you had FUN!

Renee said...

So many things here Becky:

1. Duhhh. I didn't know that you were a writer and had a book. How fantastic. I am a book worshiper and writers are almost like God. So....

2. I love that studio and even more then the studio loft, I love the couple. How cute are they.

3. I love all your things too Becky, especially you.


Love Renee

lotusgirl said...

I love the accordion cards. That's a great idea. I know there's a way to do that on the computer, but I'm not that savvy.

Did you ever get to go to Giverny to see Monet's studio?

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

The only wonder about my studio is that I'm not completely lost among all of my "stuff!"
Swing by my blog to sign up for a giveaway! :)

adrienne said...

Thanks for sharing that! I love to see where people create. I like your index card ideas, too.

I wish I had a whole room, but I have to settle for a section of the living room. The best thing is it's by a window, and I can see lizards running up the walls outside, and flowers and hummingbirds...

Kelly H-Y said...

I love your office! I am soooo longing for an office-remodel ... one that inspires me daily! :-) But, in the meantime, I rely on my Mary Engelbreit daily desk calendar to bring cheer to my desk space! :-)

Ronnie said...

Tell Todd he has a swell back of the head.
Love the peek inside your laboratory! Slobber dog and all.
Eeee Gads! You're a bit like me that I stuff things in weird little containers instead of on the computer or in a proper file. A PILE of notebooks (the spiral lay flat rip out kind) and sketchpads.
You're a rare bird, girly! Thanks for sharing your life!

jama said...

I LOVE Bridgewater pottery and Matthew Rice stuff!! I want them to adopt me, NOW.

Great seeing your workspace and loved objects close at hand. Accordion is a great idea! And Yay for the Vegetable people :).

Jen P said...

what a lovely range of studios and insight into yors - that hanging index set up - what a clever idea!

PS: Your book arrived today! Yippee! In perfect time for my Mom's birthday.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Okay, I'm totally inspired now!

Sherry said...

Your space is so organized, creative and wonderful.

If I posted a picture of my work space, I'd probably be carted off to somewhere by the white jackets.

Angela K. Nickerson said...

I love your studio! It looks cozy and personal -- just the kind of place I try to create, too.

Fete et Fleur said...

AWESOME post!! I truly loved the Etsy tour. My mind is whirling!


Susan said...

Ohh, thanks for sharing your space with us. Having a workspace close to the family is a great idea. Great post and great pictures. Susan

Sandy and Joe said...

Hi Rebecca! What a fun post!! Do you read Somerset's "Where Women Create"? Lots of great studio pics. Especially loved the video clip. Am going to send some friends over to see it right now. xo -- Sandy

a Tonggu Momma said...

love the organization system... and I definitely feel that the index cards are an improvement from taped paper. I'm an index card kind of gal.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey Leah, the shutters are my favorite too. You know I've got old shutters all over my house! (So I really should be better at organizing than I am!)

Hi Barb, I'm working away on my next book. Hopefully it'll make its way to the bookstore someday soon.

Tattingchic, thanks. And I love the couch too. Sometimes I take all my stuff and sprawl all over it. But turn the TV on and any work for me goes up in smoke.

Constance, I sure did have fun. The beach with Sarah was heaven.

Renee, you are a sweetheart. I love that couple too--especially the way they watch each other talk to the interviewer. They're clearly in love. And so creative! I'd love to hang out with them! And I'd like to hang out with you too!

Hey Lois, yep. I loved visiting Monet's workshop at Giverny. Very inspiring. I also loved his blue kitchen.

Cathy, me too. Things pile up so much sometimes that I can't find my desk under all my stuff!

Adrienne, a good window is nice too--especially with lizards and hummingbirds.

Kelly, I used to have a Mary Engelbreit calendar too. I may now have to get one again since I'll miss my Mary fix from the magazine.

Hey Ronnie, I'll be sure to tell Todd that you like the back of his head. And I'm glad to know you like odd containers too. Very fun.

Jama, I'll have to scan the article on the two of them and send it to you. It's interesting.

Hey Jen, I hope your mom enjoys it!

Green girl, your humor inspires me daily. Glad I could return the favor.

Sherry, if you saw my laundry room and bedroom right now you'd feel better. No photos posted of either of those!

Hey Angela, I bet you have tons of cool Italian stuff in your workspace. I'd love to see it.

Nancy, I'd love to see your workspace as well. Lots of pretty crepe paper I imagine!

Hi Susan, did you see anything familiar in this post? I put the heart you made with my favorite things and am so enjoying it!

Sandy, thanks so much for the recommendation! I'll have to check that out--it sounds great, and it might be the perfect substitute for Home Companion!

Tonggu Momma, aren't index cards great? Anne Lamott got me started and now I always carry one in my back pocket or purse. I'm afraid I find them in the laundry all the time!

Paula Clare said...

Your studio is! I love it! I am drooling over your space...although the loft studios REALLY send me over the moon. With a home that's only 750 sq. ft. you can imagine how small MY studio space is!

Ahhhhhhhhhh, the dreams I'll dream!

Thanks for sharing your space with us!

Marie-Louise said...

Your studio looks so great! I want to come and see more...

Suzie said...

WEll you wont get lonely whjile your working

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thank you, Paula! But I bet you agree that our limitations (space, etc) can be good--they force us to be more creative!

Marie-Louise, you're welcome to drop in anytime!

Suzie...but I like being lonely while I work! I'm weak...if people are around I don't get anything done!

dana said...

I LOVED this post, Becky! Now, don't get me wrong, because I LOVE all of your posts----it's just that THIS one was truly special to me. I so loved seeing your office space (when you can remove the hubby and children) and looking at some of your favorite inspirational items (I didn't see any pictures of The Stone Rabbit, however!) Also I loved seeing the systems you use for organizing your stories! Very neat, that clothespin and shuttery thing!

The video of the artists you shared was really great, too. I LOVE the stuff they collect and use for inspiration.

Hope you have a great St. Pat's Day!

L, Dana

Gary and Elizabeth~ said...

Hi Becky,
I also share an office with my husband and our chairs keep banging into each other everytime we are working on our computers. We also have a lot of clutter in our office but it's good clutter!. It's nice that we share an office since I would be yelling his name down the hallway into the family room everytime I need his help with the computer. LOL.
I enjoyed my visit today.

CC said...

thanks for sharing! It was fun to glimpse into your home :)

May Vanderbilt said...

Oh man. This is the stuff of city girl dreams! Every square inch costs a million in San Francisco so I don't have a studio.

But I'm going to write in yours in my head. It's lovely!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Wow I love studio posts... you can tell so much about the person by taking a tour through one.. it is like looking inside their head!!!

once you have one... you always want one...

Jojo said...

What a great studio. My "private" space is a corner in my bedroom. Somehow it isn't my space at all but it is my chair. You have really created your work space - with a view. Okay, so you have to sometimes share the space. Even that makes for good stories. Two years ago an Andrew Wyeth exhibit was here in Atlanta and one of my favorite stories on the "headphone tour" was one about how he was a perfectionist and had to have his studio in perfect order. His children would occasionally just go move a few things around just as a prank. It made me laugh!

Anonymous said...