In The Studio With Textile Artist Lisa Walton
When Lisa Walton’s two children moved out of the family home in inner-west Sydney, she used the opportunity to merge their two bedrooms into one large studio to create a space which would be the envy of us all!
Photography by Mark Heriot
Lisa’s amazing studio space has two skylights, 12 spotlights and 24 power points, though Lisa says that even with all the power points she has, they never seem to be in the right spot! “The level of light in the studio is fantastic. The only down side is that the gallery-style lighting is often not quite right for photographing my work,” she explains. The gallery lights are on tracks, which means Lisa can move them about to best suit herself.
Make your own Japanese-Style stencilled fabrics with Lisa Walton!
Purpose-built shelves that perfectly house clear plastic Ikea tubs run down one side of the studio. Each is stacked and labelled. At the end of the room, near to the window at the front of the house, Ikea Billy shelves are packed with plastic Chinese containers of beads.
Lisa buys the beads in bulk and divides them into smaller containers of 500g each. Specialty beads are sorted into smaller containers, each containing 100g. The take-away containers are then organised by colour. “The great thing about Ikea furniture is that you can mix and match the different-size pieces to fit your space,” adds Lisa.
On either side of the bookcases, Alex drawers from Ikea hold all of Lisa’s threads. These, too, are sorted by colour and each drawer is then labelled on the front with a label maker. “I have lots and lots of threads,” Lisa admits. Her collection was certainly boosted during the time she was sponsored by Aurifil.
“I love Aurifil threads — there are so many weights and colours and they are very good quality,” she enthuses.
Lisa has set up her two sewing machines a little way down from her beads and threads. The first is her Sweet 16, which comes with its own sewing table that has fold-down sides so when it is not in use, it takes up far less space. Lisa’s other sewing machine, her Bernina 820, is set up on a Sew Ezi table.
“I can easily move the sewing machine around as I need, which is great,” Lisa explains.
Behind the sewing machines is a lovely large design wall, which doubles as a pin board. “I only make large quilts once a year so when I need to, I clear off all the other bits and pieces from the design wall and then I have a 2m² area to work on,” tells Lisa. The design board itself is constructed from particle or plywood made from sugarcane, and then covered in extra-wide flannel.
Near to the entrance of the studio there are bookshelves for all Lisa’s books. Close by is also her office computer so she can take care of business-related matters, and other computer work, in the confines of her studio.
In the centre of the room, Lisa has a large ironing and printing table set up with even more storage underneath — this time large wire baskets. She doesn’t have much of a fabric stash to speak of as she makes her own fabrics for her projects to order. She hand-dyes what she wants for each quilt and then stencils or paints other fabric to go with it to create her pieces.
The fabrics she does have stashed in her studio are a large assortment of silks that she uses in her textile arts, as well as many pieces of beautiful fabric she has collected on her travels overseas. “I have many South African fabrics, which at the time I just had to have, but now I look at them and wonder what I am going to do with them,” she laughs.
Lisa and her husband Peter have had a patchwork and quilting business, Dyed and Gone to Heaven, for the last 15 years. After perfecting her fabric-dyeing recipes, Lisa wrote them all down in a recipe book and Peter now takes care of all the fabric dyeing for the business. All of this fabric is dyed by Peter in big buckets on the back patio.
It is then pressed and stored in a room off Lisa’s studio that she has lovingly named “the sweat shop”. This is where all the fabric is cut and orders are packed. As well as hand-dyed fabrics, Lisa and Peter also produce hand-dyed wool and sell a range of paints and stencils for embellishing fabric — techniques which Lisa has been exploring more and more recently.
“At the moment I am spending a lot of time creating collages from my stencilled and printed fabrics,” Lisa explains. “I am also enjoying piecing, painting and then quilting pieces of work. I am very much into inter-layering at the moment and I want to explore incorporating more felt in my work.”
When Lisa is at home in Sydney, she happily spends all day in her studio working on her eBooks on her computer, painting and creating with fabric, or experimenting to develop new classes. “I am always looking to develop something new and different for my classes which won’t replicate what other tutors are teaching,” Lisa explains.
Check out our Baled Up Cushion, Yarn Basket and Knitting Needle Wrap project! Three patterns for the price of one!
“As well as developing classes, I am also enjoying spending more time working on projects that I am really passionate about with a view to entering more competitions. The more time I can spend playing, the more things there are to discover.”
In 2010 Lisa was awarded the Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship for Quilting Teachers by the International Quilt Association in Houston, USA. For the next year she worked on quilts for a special exhibition, which debuted at the 2011 International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston.
Once the exhibition was complete, Lisa went straight on to working on her first book, Beautiful Building Block Quilts, which was published by C&T Publishing in 2013.
“This year I feel like I am finally able to spend more time on what I really want to be creating,” Lisa admits. But in saying that, she has also taken on another big role — vice-president of the Studio Art Quilters Association — the first non-North American invited to join the board.
“It really has been an immense thrill to be invited to be part of the board of this great association,” Lisa says proudly. “While it does take up quite a bit of time, I have found it fascinating to learn what boards do, how they function, their policies and procedures, and being able to communicate and deal with people all over the world.”
Lisa teaches classes in surface design, where students spend a day creating their fabric and the next day making something from it. She also teaches indigo and shibori dyeing, where students usually go home with blue hands and once again they spend one day dyeing the fabric and the next making something with it.
Lisa teaches some classes from the studio at her home but she also travels a great deal to teach. This year she did a major teaching trip to the USA, is currently in Europe and the UK on a seven-week teaching trip and later this year she will escort a group of quilters to Japan.
Next year Lisa will be spending time in New Zealand but is hoping to also spend more time at home in Australia. “The travel is wonderful and teaching is terrific, but I am a homebody too — I love to be in my studio and out in the sun dyeing fabric and other textiles.”
Lisa also wants to devote more time to writing her range of eBooks. So far she has released two — Creative Journeys Book #1: Fun & Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques and Creative Journeys Book #2: Beading on Fabric.
Lisa Walton’s website: lisawaltonartist.com