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!
My Mobile Studio
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.
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.
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.
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) here 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 projects that I have collected the supplies 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.
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.
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.
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 3rd 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.
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 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.
Preparing for this Adventure
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. This was 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 roll, 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.
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.