February 3, 2009

Study to Studio

For many years, this desk was the focal point of my study, the place where I wrote books, where I did my scholarship. The laptop sat on the pull-out typing return, at the perfect height for a short person like me. This desk held current notes and drafts of my research projects. Another skinny desk went off in an "el," to the right of the typing return; this second desk held materials related to the classes I was teaching, as well as bills and letters. The room was filled with books and files connected to my job, to my professional life. It was a good place to work.

After my son's death in 2004, the study no longer pulled me in. The part of my life connected to research fell away. In the midst of a quilting design workshop I took in June 2005, an idea took shape: I could turn my study into a studio. Talking with Amy D. at breakfast, I tentatively told her about this idea. "Penny, that's huge!" I was so grateful for her understanding of what the shift would mean, and her encouragement to go ahead and make the change. Which I did.

It's been three and a half years now since I re-did the room. It's been difficult to say the word "studio"; I more usually call it my "sewing room." Louise and I challenge each other to say/write the word, without hesitating, without putting quotation marks around it. Naming this blog "Studio Notes" was one way to claim the word for myself. "Study" and "Studio" both seem to be derived from the Latin verb "studio"—to pursue eagerly. Yes, I pursued scholarship eagerly for 35 years. Now that same eagerness is going into my work with fabric.

If you're interested in a (longish) account of the FunQuilts Design Workshop and how it transformed my approach to quilting—and my identity—you can read this talk: "From Study to Studio: Meaning and Motivation in Scholarship and Art" (link added in July 2010, replacing an earlier talk referred to here previously).

By the way, the typing return is just the right height for working on needleturn appliqué.

Another view of the studio.


  1. Penny,

    Thank you for sharing the reasons you chose Studio Notes as your blog name.

  2. Just read this for the first time. I never saw the link on your home page before. Isn't is interesting how difficult it is to say, "I am an artist" and have a "studio". After all the art shows and talks you have done, you certainly own the title.