The Sleeping Shelf

cats sleeping

This is the view in the wintergarden on this fine September afternoon. It’s nice and quiet here, and it turned into a beautiful day, which means that the wintergarden feels like a sauna, and the heat is migrating into the Studio. Shadow and Patches are in heaven on their sleeping shelf under the windows. I’m hanging out in the back room at the beading table, trying to stay cool(er)! Hmm, I don’t think I ever shared a picture (or the story) of my new beading area.

Perfect Sewing Caddy double towers with a table top from HinterbergI really wanted to order one of these Perfect Sewing Caddy double towers with a table top from Hinterberg, and I was willing to pay for it. What I wasn’t willing to do was pay them $250 to ship it over here. Sheesh. I realize it’s wood and all but, well, never mind. I wasn’t ready to spend $1,100 total on the thing.

A quick trip to Ikea (well, as quick as trips to Ikea ever are which is to say, pack a lunch, you’ll be there a while…) produced something even better, quite perfect actually, for less than half the price:

Beading Table

Three separate pieces: two bases on wheels with drawers (lots and LOTS of drawers!), and a tabletop, and I’m in business with plenty of space for all the little bits and bobs, beads and bangles, tools and fibers I’ve collected for a good part of my life. ITMan did have to do the “some assembly required” (more like “all assembly required” actually) but we’d have had to do that anyway with the pieces from Hinterberg. Get a load of these drawers:

Beading Table drawers

Six drawers in each base, four shallow and two that are deeper. Awesome. And perfect. Did I mention this was perfect?!? And being less than half the price only adds to it’s perfection. It’s more than a “Beading Table,” it’s an Embellishment Station. So now I can go hide out in the relative coolness of the “Library,” or back room, or Little Studio, or whatever it is when it’s too hot in the Studio, and play with all the bits and bobs, beads and bangles, tools and fibers, and I can even close the door if the other residents of the house are gettin’ on my last nerve.

And the cats? Well, they’ve finally decided they’re well done and have had to remove to the floor in the studio for a break:

Getting out of the heat!

Adventures in Lighting, Part 3

I think I mentioned that I found something online that recommended 900 watts of lighting in my studio. The actual “recommendation” was an average of 2 watts per square foot, so that’s 900 watts for my studio which is 450 square feet. I figured that was a good place to start, since I found this information on a forum for woodworkers (I think) and they were comparing the lighting levels in their shops. Seems like woodworkers would probably want plenty of light so as not to get on the wrong side of the sharp power tools.

After I read that, I felt somewhat vindicated about my dissatisfaction with the lighting level in here. Unless the sun is shining, I feel like a cave dweller. The problem is that unless I want to start putting up T8 fluorescent lighting fixtures all over the ceiling, it’s looking rather difficult to fix. I don’t necessarily want that anyway, since it would have to all be on at once, and I don’t need to be sucking up the power like that all over the room most of the time.

I’ve opted for task lighting instead. Lots of it. I have the light on the ceiling (175w total), which is not even really adequate as ambient light for a room this large, a stand lamp by the desk (75w), and a task lamp over the cutting table and one over my hand sewing area (two 60w equivalent full-spectrum bulbs). So far so good, but still not enough light when the clouds are not cooperating or I’m burning the midnight oil.

Design Wall lighting

I added these lights above the design wall area, four Megaman Liliput Nature Color bulbs at 11 watts each (240w equivalent total output). I was a bit disappointed by the output on these for the design wall. I think I could have used at least 15 watts each, maybe even 20w (which would be 100w equivalent output each) since this is a place where I need to see. I had to order these bulbs from a German website though, so sending them back wasn’t really a doable option. Before I ordered these, I had my photo flood bulbs in the fixtures, and they’re so bright that it was like looking at the sun over there, so then I went too far the other way on the wattage. I decided to wait and see, thinking I might put more lights up elsewhere, and then I’d be able to switch them out with higher wattage bulbs without just putting the lower wattage ones in the closet unused.

Sewing table lighting

Yesterday I installed these fixtures over the sewing tables, and populated them with regular incandescent 60w spot bulbs. The lighting level is probably fine, but the quality of the light is just awful. There’s a huge difference in color temperature between the incandescent bulbs and energy saver fluorescent bulbs, not to mention daylight fluorescent bulbs, which is why I am going with the earlier tentative plan of purchasing more Nature Color bulbs in a higher wattage and switching out the ones on the design wall. I can put the lower wattage bulbs by the sewing tables so they won’t go to waste. The little buggers are expensive, but they’re supposed to last forever (or for eight years, whichever comes first), so maybe the expense is justified.

Even after all that, I’m still not sure I have enough light in here and there’s one whole corner that has almost none. I don’t even have that magic 900 watts yet, though I’m getting closer. There were folks on that woodworkers’ forum that had three or more watts per square foot and still thinking of adding more. I’ll order the higher wattage Nature Color bulbs and see where I’m at. It might have been cheaper and easier to hire a professional to just tell me what I needed in here in the way of lighting instead of fumbling around and learning as I go.

Sunday Patchwork: Scraps, just scraps

Here’s a short update on the scraps and bits that are the work in progress of life right now:

I’m still working with the lighting in the new studio, trying to get enough of it where I need it. I’ve come to the conclusion that halogen spot lighting is essentially useless, at least it has been for me for everything I’ve tried to use it for. It’s dim and yellowed, and casts shadows in all the wrong places. In other words, while the light that I bought for the studio looks good hanging up there on the ceiling, it’s not much good to actually light up this large room. I actually Googled to try to figure out how many watts I should have in here based on the space, and came up with 900 watts. Heh, 900 watts is a really long way from what I have now, I must say. No wonder I feel like I’m in a cave at night or if it’s cloudy! Back to the hardware store we go…

The owners of the house we’re renting asked us if we would let them leave their household goods in the garage until the second week of May when they would pack it into the overseas shipping crates for the trip to Canada. It was going to cost them 100 Euro per day if they had to pack the crates and then have the stuff stored somewhere until they were ready to ship it all. We agreed thinking it was a great way to build goodwill with the new landlords.

Unfortunately, the stuff is still here in the garage at the beginning of June, and there is no definitive date when it might be leaving at this point. There is evidently some issue with their move and they are awaiting some paper from the Canadian government before they can proceed to pack things up and get on their way. And to top it off, when we ask about it, we’re told we need to be more patient! Patient was two weeks ago, and now we’re on to irritated, and rapidly approaching something even more vehement and ugly. I think I’ve filled up the goodwill account now thanks, and I want my garage so I can park my car in it. Yesterday, if you please. Grrrr.

The heat and humidity makes it difficult to concentrate, or maybe it’s just difficult to want to concentrate. I’m still tossing around the idea of an air conditioner, but I’m worried about the power consumption. I’ve figured out why we’re spending so much more on power and gas: the power company here, despite being the same company that we had in Stuttgart, charges more per kilowatt hour here, and natural gas is just plain expensive when compared with oil. So, I think melting is on the schedule this summer until I figure out if I really want to spend the kind of money it would take to have an air conditioner. Another Grrrr.

And since my new front yard is full of perennials, I’m now suffering from the worst allergies I’ve had in years. When we moved in there were a few daffodils and some hibiscus and that was okay, but now there are huge numbers of flowering “things” out there, and while most of them are pretty (except for the ugly mounds of Iris. Don’t get me started on the ugliest color of Iris blooms I’ve ever laid eyes on), frankly I’d just as soon they all died. Quickly and without throwing their pollen around on their way out! I can’t keep the windows shut of course, or the melting might turn to expiring without even the little bit of relief that the open windows provide. *sigh*

So, with melting and sneezing on the schedule every day right now as we experience the heatwave that is late May and early June in Germany some years and my front yard continuing to bloom in all it’s pollen-laden extravagance, I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to do much more than the bare minimum, which is why it’s been a quiet week in the blogging department. Maybe I need to become nocturnal for the duration.

And lest you think it’s nothing but bad stuff and complaints for today, the good part is I have 216 Inchies done (of 510 needed) for my current project. I originally hoped I could manage to finish 20 Inchies per week, but I’m feeling pretty good that most weeks I’ve done 36, and some 72 even! Thus I’m way ahead of schedule on this project, which is undoubtedly a good thing since I’m still tossing ideas for a pretty critical part of it around in my head and can’t seem to see the right way forward just yet. Thankfully, there is time. Photo shooting of the 72 Inchies I completed since I put up the Gallery is on the schedule for tomorrow.

Here’s hoping for cloudy with a huge chance of rain! All week!!!

Sunday Patchwork: Mail, moves, and melting

In leftover news, bits, and reviews from the week:

Mail delivery is always interesting around here. ITMan picks it up on the Army post where he works, and is usually mystified by the contents of the various packages and envelopes he carries home. Take this weeks’ loot: one package of polyester fibers from Embellishment Village and one mystery package from a person or place called goldenflyfisher. He couldn’t imagine why I was ordering something from goldenflyfisher and “polyester fibers” totally stumped him.

Angelina Fibers and Pigma Pens

The polyester fibers proved to be Angelina Fibers, which I finally decided to plunge into. I saw the fibers about four years ago at the Houston show, but I’ve never been able to think what I’d do with them since. And guess what? I still don’t have any idea what to do with them! I bought them to use for Inchie embellishment, and while the fibers are pretty cool when you iron them together to make the fabric, I realized that if I put the Angelina fibers on Inchies and then iron the Inchies at high heat to attach Velcro, the Angelina fibers are just going to completely melt, fizzle and die. So much for that idea. Hopefully I’ll use them for something else at some point…

The little box from goldenflyfisher was not hooks or lures, oh no. You all know I’m an indoor girl! I scoured the Internet looking for a complete set of Micron Pigma Pens in all the colors, and finally ordered from ebay. Don’t ask me why an ebay seller with a name like goldenflyfisher sells Pigma Pens. He just has the best price, and shipped it here with no problem at all, unlike the first place I tried to order from, which couldn’t be bothered to ship anything Postal Service to the APO address. I needed the pens to touch up the corners of Inchies, where the thread sometimes doesn’t completely cover the batting and stiffener inside.

Speaking of Inchies, I’m still working on them, and I have 128 done of the 510 that I need for this crazy project. I’m going to create a gallery here to show pictures and detail shots of all of them at some point, but I haven’t photographed them all in small groups yet. Until then, here’s at least some proof that I’ve been working at them:

128 Inchies done

I was looking for a way to display them temporarily while I’m working on them all, and I originally had them on the design wall stuck to the Block Butler. I guess they’re a little heavy because they kept falling off, and I was afraid that my buddy Shadow would make them disappear at some point. Figuring that they’d stick fine if the background surface wasn’t completely vertical, I cut a couple of chunks of cardboard from leftover moving boxes and covered them with spare bits of Block Butler. Now I have two small display boards that I can just lean against the wall behind my worktable so I can see all the Inchies I’ve done so far at a glance.

I spent most of Saturday moving my studio around, trying to figure out how to take advantage of the better lighting and cooler temperatures in the other room on the side. I started with a card table in there to see how it felt, and it seemed lovely at first. I could open the window wide for fresh air, the lighting was wonderful, and my chair even moved better on the linoleum floor than it does on the carpet in the studio. We moved both the sewing tables in there, transferred all the machines and assorted cables and supplies, and then I promptly decided to move it all back, accompanied by much head shaking and rolling of eyes from ITMan.

Coolness and lighting aside, I just don’t like it in the small room. I like my wide open spaces out in the studio, and it feels too cramped in the other room once the tables are in there, and I hate the cheesy floor despite it’s rolling chair friendliness. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m afraid it’s not “run out and buy an air conditioner for the studio.” We got our first power bill, and it was huge. I fail to understand how we could be using half again as much power here in this house as we were in the old house. We have all the same electrical items as we did before. Sure the house is bigger, but it’s heated with gas, not power (and don’t even get me started on how much more natural gas for this house costs as opposed to oil at the old house). It’s all mind boggling, and I’m not sure I’m willing to pay for the power to air condition this giant room. At this point, I’m hoping I don’t melt in August!

ITMan and the girls are on their way out the door for most of the day, so I’m spending the day working on Inchies, of course, and maybe I’ll get some of that Inchies photography done!

Storage, closets and expansions

Cruising around in blogland this morning, I had a good chuckle over this post at unclutterer. Heh, welcome to my world of houses with no built in storage or closets. For the past eight years, I’ve lived in German houses, and the typical German house has no closets whatsoever and the bathroom storage, if there is any, is laughable.

As I understand it, homeowners are taxed based on the number of rooms in a house, and a closet is considered a room, no matter how small. A laundry room, however, even one so big as mine which is the size of a medium bedroom, is not a room because it’s “unfinished,” since the walls aren’t all pretty and smooth with wallpaper or beautiful paint, and the pipes are exposed on the walls and ceiling. Go figure. I’d be happy with an “unfinished” closet, thank you very much, and I’m slightly surprised that the Germans haven’t figured out that loophole yet. The pipes sticking out of the wall could double as wall hooks or closet poles.

Seriously though, I’ve spent the last eight years searching out creative storage solutions that don’t cost a bundle, but look half way decent, which is a pretty tall order really. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that JC Penney could deliver bookshelves and dressers Priority Mail. Instead of something nice that I might like to keep for a long time, I end up with this kind of junk, just to have something to use that’s better than nothing at all and doesn’t cost a small fortune.

Amy at MomAdvice penned a post that caught my eye this morning as well. I laughed a little at this one too, since I did spend a huge amount of time decluttering my house before the move, but the big holes I have in the house now are more because I have 30-40% more space here than I did in the other house than because I got rid of anything. And I do have holes; as a matter of fact, I have an entire room that I don’t really know what to do with.

The room on the side of my studio, dubbed “the Library” since that’s where we thought most of the books were going to live, is kind of purpose-less at the moment. We’d also planned to put the sofa bed in there if family every came to visit. (snort. Like THAT will ever happen.) The majority of the books ended up elsewhere with Plan B, some in the dining room and some in the office, and since I’m not anticipating a horde of relatives at my door, well, there it sits, a fairly big, empty hole in the house.

I didn’t really mean to take over nearly a third of the house…

Every morning I walk in there and think, “Wow, the natural light in here is just wonderful” and every afternoon I wander in there and enjoy the relatively cool temperature when my studio is feeling like an oven, and it’s only the middle of May. The lighting is better in there all afternoon as well, probably because it’s a smaller room and the light reflects off of the white walls. So what’s a girl to do? Start moving furniture, of course!

And even if I eventually resort to purchasing an air conditioner to keep from baking up here come August, it’s cheaper and easier to climate control a smaller room as opposed to this wide open studio. Come to think of it, keeping warm in the winter will probably be easier as well. And the Library Little Studio has something else the Studio doesn’t have: a door to close off noise from the rest of the house when I really need some quiet, and keep the cats away from my work if needed.

Oh, the irony of it all: I have a 450 square foot studio, and I’m moving part of my work area into the 126 square foot cubby hole/annex on the side. It’s kind of a bummer when what you think is going to be so perfectly wonderful doesn’t turn out that way in reality. I really can’t fit everything in the Little Studio, so obviously this is an expansion rather than a wholesale move. I didn’t really mean to take over nearly a third of the house, but it seems I’m about to do just that. I feel no guilt though, it’s all in the name of comfort and functionality…

Colorplay as therapy

The carefully chosen palette for my next current project has been sitting there on the cutting table since I took a picture of it to share, over a week ago (it has now entered “current” project status, as you’ll see). It’s not that I don’t want to work on it, I do, other things keep getting in the way, including my own “quilt design block.”

Short “house” update: the heating/hot water system is working about as well as it’s probably ever going to work, after the plumber’s visit last Friday during which he finally figured out that a 5″ section of copper pipe was almost completely blocked by water deposits and cleaned it out. He’s coming back though, with the owner and a service person from Vaillant, the manufacturer, to replace the section of pipe, and figure out why else it’s not performing up to par. And of course, it’s a bit hard to tell if it’s going to heat the house to my satisfaction in winter anyway, since it’s the end of April and it’s not exactly cold here right now.

Other than that, there are various other things, some small, some not, that the owners need to take care of for us before they take off for Canada in mid-May. I’m still making weekly trips to the hardware store for this and that, and yet another trip to Ikea is probably on the schedule for this weekend. I did get a really great office chair for a lot less than I expected to spend there last weekend, so that was an unexpected pleasure.

Back to this project on my cutting table. I’ve been thinking about working on it more than actually working on it, and part of the reason for the delay before actually setting rotary cutter to fabric has been due to a niggling little feeling that something’s not quite right. I did make templates for a couple of pieces, and actually traced one of them onto the border print, but I wasn’t keen on taking that next step, so I kept turning my mind to other things. I finally decided that the lovely border print was the big problem and had to go, because it’s just not fitting in with my (admittedly slightly foggy) vision of the finished product.

After that flash of insight late last night, I was determined to progress today in the studio, and I had all day to do it in since I had nowhere to go. I spent all morning drawing trying to draw appliqué designs for the spaces that I’d planned to use the border print for, only to be soundly defeated by fusible web by early afternoon. I HATE that stuff! I don’t know why I ever bother with it, truly. I didn’t even get past peeling the paper off of it after fusing it to the appliqué piece. I could only get some of the paper off, and the rest stuck terribly and never would come away. Into the trash bin it went.

Still determined to get something done today, I started cutting, and threw eight pieces up on the wall. I looked at it and lost my nerve, or whatever it was I had left at that point. Maybe I just didn’t know what to cut and place next color-wise. I decided to break into the Hoffman Watercolor Wraps that I bought for this project before the move, and play with the colors, since the embellishments that will go on the quilt will be made of these fabrics. This is how I spent a very happy hour or so in the late afternoon:

fabrics from the Watercolor Wraps

There were 160 different bali fabrics in the eight tubes that I bought, and I sorted and played and pared down until I had 128 left. I thought maybe I’d have a better direction in mind if I could visualize more of the whole thing, or at least more of the whole color scheme. The row on the left is winter/spring and/or air/water colors and the row on the right is summer/fall and/or fire/earth colors. I hope. I think it helped the whole design process a bit though I’m not entirely positive, but I do feel better now. It’s possible that I feel better because I played with all these fabrics and colors though, and not necessarily because I’ve made any great design decisions!

The appliqué patterns I spent the morning agonizing over may become quilting designs, though I’ll hit the Arts & Crafts shop tomorrow for a different kind of fusible web and perhaps torture myself some more at a later date if the design really needs the appliqué. Hopefully life will allow me a bit of studio time tomorrow to see if my color play today opened the floodgates to design heaven. At least it’s officially a “current” project now, since I have cut into the fabric. 🙂