My workspace cycles through neat and messy phases pretty quickly, which means I’m always in need of studio storage. Mixed-media artists tend to be heavy on stuff, and that stuff needs a place to live, otherwise things tend to be in a constant state of chaos. Artful chaos, but chaos nonetheless.
So today I’m going to show you a fun and easy project, a beautiful storage piece you’ll be proud to display. I’m also going to let you know about a new reader challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors that’s all about mixed-media studio storage.
But first, the project. This hanging paintbrush holder was inspired by some vintage quilt blocks. When you think studio storage you no doubt conjure up images of those ubiquitous plastic bins, rolling metal carts, or maybe a charming armoire or repurposed card catalog. But storage pieces can be soft and have and rounded edges, too. When I saw these 9″ x 9″ blocks I immediately imagined making them into something I could display, and look at every day.
By themselves, the blocks are beautiful in their shabbiness, but I wanted to add some mixed-media touches. I amassed a few elements from my stash I thought would work: vintage lace and ribbon, fabric scraps, old buttons, and my husband’s worn-out linen shirt, which I chose for the lining. I planned to sew the block into a tube, and used that as a guide when attaching the embellishments.
I started by hand sewing lines of simple running stitches, thinking of it as mark making with thread. The thread I used was Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements cotton thread from Coats, which is heavier than regular sewing thread, making it perfect for this type of stitching.
I tacked on the lace piece in a few places with one strand of embroidery thread.
A piece of ribbon was layered over a scrap from another linen shirt and attached with rows of French knots, using the Eclectic Elements thread.
A vintage postage stamp image was cut from fabric and tacked on with the thread. Two buttons were sewn on to the quilt block as well.
I cut a piece of the linen shirt the same size as the quilt block and sewed them right sides together about 1/8” from the edge, leaving the top edge open.
After turning the piece inside out I sewed up the back seam, then the bottom seam. As you can see, my sewing skills are a bit lacking. But I wanted this piece to look rough and rustic, so I didn’t even press the piece with an iron. If you like your sewing to be neater, by all means, go for it!
To give the pouch some depth I created a box bottom, which is really easy: Pull gently on both sides of the bottom seam, creating triangles at the points. Sew across the triangles. I measured ¾” from the points and made a mark, then sewed straight across.
Cut the triangles off, turn the bag right side out, and use your fingers to push the corners out. This gives the pouch a nice shape and lots of depth to hold stuff.
I added more embellishments: a ribbon rose and a fiber-wrapped stick. To make the rose, cut a length of ribbon—about 14” is good to start with. I used sari ribbon that I ironed flat.
Fold one edge down at a 90 degree angle.
Start rolling the ribbon in from the end, and tack it in place at the bottom with needle and thread.
Continue to roll the ribbon around the center, using this method to create the petals: Fold the ribbon back onto itself with your non-dominant hand, and turn the rose into the ribbon with your other hand.
Keep folding the ribbon and turning the rose, tacking it at the base with the needle and thread so it doesn’t come undone. When it’s to the size you want, cut off the remaining ribbon, tack down any loose ribbon, and cut off the bottom just below your stitches. Don’t cut the thread.
Use the thread to tack the rose onto the pouch.
For the stick, simply wind various types and colors of fibers around a stick until you’re happy with the look. I learned this technique from Roxanne Evans Stout, who calls these Blessing Sticks (You can see more examples of these in her article, Creating a Nature Journal, in the July/August 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, and also in her book, Storytelling with Collage.).
To create a hanger I set two eyelets in the back, about 2″ apart, and threaded through some twisted ribbons.
And here is the finished pouch, ready to hold my brushes and add a touch of something special to my workspace.
If this type of project appeals to you, you should consider taking part in our current reader challenge, which is about studio storage.
A new Reader Challenge announcement is included in each issue, and I really encourage you to participate. We love seeing how you interpret the theme, and the techniques and supplies you use to create your artwork.
The current challenge is for mixed-media studio accessories, and we’re looking for a mixed-media piece that you can use to stash and stow studio supplies. It should be no larger than 8″ x 8″ x 8″, and weigh 1 pound or less. For more information on this fun challenge, go to the Reader Challenge page on our website.
We know we have the most talented readers around, so give it a shot. You just might see your piece published in the magazine! The deadline for the current challenge is November 4th, so get started today. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Jeannine.Stein@fwcommunity.com.
Next week, Studio Saturdays will move to our sister site, Artists Network, so please join us there for another fun project!
In the meantime, these resources are great for getting started on a studio storage project: