About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Life and the creative process are about the journey, not the destination. I love working with colour and texture and can get totally 'lost' in the creative process. Variety keeps my creative juices flowing. We are currently traveling full time in a 40' motorhome and bouncing between visits with a son in Albuquerque NM and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Calgary AB. In between we are busy exploring this great continent on which we live. It's a challenge working from my mobile studio but I am using our travel time to learn new skills and refine existing ones.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Mobile Studio

As a follow-up to all the postings on Dale Ann Potter's FB page about her dream of traveling by RV and teaching as she goes, I decided not to delay any longer with this posting.  It's been planned for a while but I thought I should wait until everything was tidy!  This may be a bit of a ramble and I'll try to group info but here goes!

We have been traveling full-time in our motor home since January 2009 and one of the conditions was that I would not have to stop working on my artwork, including fibre art.  Long before we purchased our motor home we had both individually made up a list of needs (non-negotiable) and wants and then discussed how we would achieve as much as possible from these lists.  My non-negotiable included a kitchen with some counter space and storage and work area for my art.  Taking my sewing machine with me was a given!  When we actually made our purchase we were on holiday with no expectation of finding 'the one' but it was meant to be and we made it work.  My husband specified motor home not 5th wheel, and diesel not gas, and I'm glad now that he did.  When traveling in an RV weight and weight distribution is always a concern and diesel gives more lug power.  We periodically drive over a scale, weighing each wheel, to check that we have not made an inappropriate shift of weight inside the coach or storage. Interesting point we discovered this year, we travelled for a distance this year with a couple with the identical coach but theirs was much more lightly loaded and our fuel consumption wasn't much different.
Sewing Table
I purchased a Sewezi table for my machine in advance and again it was a good move.  It is stable and folds down for easy storage when traveling - sometimes in the car we pull, sometimes on the bed depending on how much I anticipate using it in the immediate future.  I currently have it set up in the bedroom at the foot of the bed facing a window which gives me reasonable light. 

Dual Purpose Bed!
I use the bed to spread out the tools and work in progress so that it is easily accessible.  I do have to gather it up at night but at least I have the use of this space during the daytime.  When I work on larger pieces I will T to the table in the eating area to provide additional surface. 

Outside studio when required!
If you visit our travel blog  you may stumble on a picture of me working under the awning outside the coach (Casa Grande winter 2009) or more recently with my quilt frame (retrieved from storage) her in Cochrane.  When I do this I set up folding table that we carry to provide work space.

When we are 'touring' I tend to work on had projects that I have prepared in advance or on computer preparation for future projects.  I gather everything I need into ziplock bags, including the right needles and a small pair of scissors or other tools that are required if duplicates are available.  I store a number of these bags in a large UFO bin in the storage compartment below and only keep the current ones on hand.  My stash, yarn, embellishments etc. are in labeled bins in one of the storage bays below. 

Books, embellishments, yarn, fabric, and ???
We are fortunate that one of the bays has a pullout tray and that was dedicated for my 'studio'.  DH has been quite supportive!  A few books ride topside but I select the ones I want each year from the storage locker and limit myself to two bins.  I shipped the most pertinent ones west when we moved.  The rest are in storage back east and will be revisited when we go back that way.  We decided not to move everything until we 'come off the road' as we purchased a 40' cargo container, had the interior spray- foamed to reduce condensation and packed it with what little furniture we thought we might use in the future, family memorabilia, dishes etc.

Sewing Machine, embellisher, embroidery unit and ????
As for storage, the unit we chose has lots of cupboards.  In the first six months we had to rearrange contents a couple of times to balance weight but have more or less settled on an arrangement that works.   My sewing machine and embellisher sit in the bottom of a closet. 

Sewing and other embellishments and tools
I have forgone a washer/dryer in favor of storing two upright plastic drawer units in the space (1) findings and small sewing tools 2) craft/art tools and supplies.  Because the closet nearby was not full used for clothes, I was able to add a 3)rd unit with mainly art supplies, brushes etc.  Another cupboard has my thread, paint etc. in smaller drawer units and art boxes.  I've been careful to make sure anything that might be affected with temperature change is inside the coach.
Gave up closet space for art
Yet another cupboard

In the front of the coach, large sheets of paper and a large cutting board are lodge in the space behind the pull out couch.  We removed a loveseat on the opposite side (not terribly comfortable even though it was leather and DH constructed a desk from prefab cupboard units from Home Depot and a piece of MDF board topped with a piece of plexiglass.  The couch is in storage if the desk is a problem when we decide to sell the coach. 

DH's Handiwork
The desk has a printer/scanner on a pull out tray and storage for files, small projects, map books, etc.  It works as my computer space and I keep some stacked drawers on top with small sewing tool, pens etc. 

All my marking/small sewing tools
Everything sits on no skid stuff so that it doesn't move when we are traveling and the draws are turned to the wall so they don't pop out.  DH has a table cover that fit over the steering wheel and makes a computer space for him.  It works because he is mainly surfing RV sites and reading e-mail while I often have reference material nearby.
DH is happy here!

All in all it works for us.  Part of our travel experience ties in with my interest in genealogy so I also have some related materials stashed in bins down below and use a computer program for what I have managed to get recorded.  This is a work in progress but the geo-tracking component makes it easy to check and see if we should check local resources for more info as we travel.

I'm sure this post will generate more questions but it will maybe provide a basis for discussion.  What one needs to take with them is a very personal thing and as I 'garage saled', dealt with antique dealers, sold via word of mouth and sorted in preparation for this adventure, it became very obvious to me what was important to me. ' Things I couldn't part with on the first pass (year one) had moved to the not so important list in the second year and so on.  We were four years in this preparation but then we had been family 'archivists' and 'curators' all our married lives.  The benefit/cost of having lived in a large farm house for many years.  Once it was determined that no-one in the family was willing/able to take on the rolls, we started seriously searching for new homes for things, always mindful of our mantra 'Is it part of our life today, do I see it as part of my life tomorrow, can it be easily replaced if I change my mind.'  With both of us coming from families that have treasured family memorabilia and always re-used, recycled as much as possible, the experience of purging was freeing.  Check out a previous blog posting.


  1. Wow! You certainly are a model of efficiency! You can come and reorganize my studio anytime. I admire your tenacity.

  2. Diane, This traveling studio is fantastic. We got an RV last year and I have redone the bedroom, have two drawers of art supplies, have a small travel ironing board, a traveling Rowenta and I bought a new travel sewing machine. I am barely started compared to you. Great job!!

  3. Love the Plein Air Quilting!!! I think you could start a new trend with this one!

  4. Diane, I am impressed by your organization. How fun it must be to be able to travel in your mobile studio. You have the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

  5. Diane--how timely your post is for me! My hubs and I have been talking about RV-ing around the country for a few years now, and I knew I'd have to have my machine and supplies with me. He's easy, as his vocation (and avocation!) is computers, so all he needs is laptop space. So now I won't feel guilty about taking up *most* of the storage room. :) Nice to see that it can be done! Thanks so much for posting!
    --Toni Mitt, Milwaukee, WI

  6. Thanks so much for your post. I met a lady from Birmingham, AL on the plane as we were traveling to Houston to the quilt show. She is a fellow fiber artist of yours and she put me on to your blog. I had been telling her that my husband and I are in the early stages of preparing to become full-time RV'rs. We will be selling our home and going through the same process as you did of decision making as to what to let go, what to save, and so on. Being able to quilt and craft is on my must have list so we are trying to figure out how to handle all this. My husband had actually suggested setting up my quilting machine outdoors so it was exciting to see you doing the same. He is very supportive, by the way, as your husband is. His principle pastime is computers also and he is into genealogy. We were interested in the storage container that you purchased. We were planning on checking into climate controlled storage facilities for the furniture,etc. that we are not ready to part with. Are you storing wood furniture in your container successfully? Your solution would be more economical in the long run most likely but wondering how furniture would fare. I am only keeping family pieces with sentimental value, selling everything else.

  7. Thanks to everyone for visiting the blog. It's fun to know someone reads my ramblings. Joann, and others, if you would like more detail on some part e.g. the storage unit, be sure that you give me a way to get back to you.