An Actual Room Of One’s Own, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:32am


I visited my mom this week. On the way to Santa Barbara, I stopped in the totally surprisingly adorable town of Los Olivos, to have lunch with Margy of Fool For Fabric. What a gift. You know when the universe offers you a token of future possible?

Margy is older than I am. She’s been working in her studio for years, in various modes of creation. Now she sews some pretty astonishing clothes. While I’m unlikely to sew or ever want to – I struggle with small motor coordination – the meta-concept of a studio, now that’s something.

I had always scoffed at a Room Of One’s Own. I have earned a good living: managed people, functioned independently. What use a solitary space? Hooray for post-oppression! But not all oppression is overt or external. Suppression tamps down an awful lot, solo.

High WASPs find creativity dangerous. My culture often marginalizes its artists, preferring that if they must “art,” that they do so while male. The unspoken code lists artists as messy, and prone to outbursts. Not excellent, in the way we appreciated, and not quite comprehensible.

Once I got to Santa Barbara, I took mom out. She’d given me a shopping trip as a Christmas present.

Lunch first. We sat, considering food. Tile floor, white tablecloth, windows to the street. She chose a turkey club, I, petrale sole. She wanted wine with lunch, agreed. On my phone, I showed her a rug I was considering for what has been my son’s room, and will now be my office. Or studio, conceptually.

Kathy Leeds, an artist I have come to know here on the blog, had recommended the rug maker. Dash & Albert. Kathy was recently chosen to show at Art Basel. Even my culture of origin would recognize her superior relationship with color.

Mom liked the rug. She exclaimed, happily. She was always the visual one in the family, the one with a sense of design and style. I shied away, I had my reasons.

After lunch we went to James Perse, where I discovered that this anorak wasn’t so great in person. So mom bought me the Harlequin Cotton Rug. She has always been generous.

Another, perhaps the other, great gift of my life comes from my husband. I take early retirement as an opportunity to anneal my self. Hard doesn’t always mean brittle. I prefer a crystalline end to a dusty fade. Lava into obsidian, or, more tamely, an often salty solution into large, clear, cubes.

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18 Comments

  • Fun rug! I also love Kathy’s art and color sense. She is truly talented.

    01/24/15
    11:08 am
    kathy said...

    Thank you Susan!

  • Ah, Lisa…I enjoyed our lunch so much! One of the unexpected (to me) bonuses
    of blogging is meeting people IRL and really enjoying them! I hope we can do it again when you go to visit your mother.

    You got the rug! I looked at your Pinterest picture of it…what fun it will be to design your “Room of Your Own” around those lovely colors.

    Thanks so much for your detour to Los Olivos. I look forward to doing it again!

    01/25/15
    10:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @Margy Houtz, I look forward to getting together again. I’ll ping you when the time comes to paint the bookshelf!

  • That rug is nothing short of amazing!!

    01/25/15
    10:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @MarlaD, Thank you! Thanks to mom!

  • I LOVE that rug, I do love most of their rugs, but it’s one of my absolute favorite patterns, and I’ve always looked for a place to use it. I’m quite flattered that your mom approved, as I love her home, and I can tell we have a similar aesthetic collecting folk art, etc.

    Your family is right – artists are messy and prone to outbursts, and sulking, and drinking wine with lunch!

    01/25/15
    10:07 am
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, I’m so happy you like it. Confirmation, at least pending seeing it in real life. And any license to mess and outburst can only help my general mood:).

  • And I just went to Margy’s blog which is new to me, and I love her sewing. I don’t have the patience or “methodical” side to me required to sew, but I do knit. Bookmarked the blog and I love the red vest, Margy!

  • I imagined calcedony crystals when I read this. Lovely and clear. Now that my eldest has left the nest, we have all agreed to make her room (the largest and brightest in the house) into a makers’ studio/teen hangout. Her dorm at UCSC has one, complete with sewing machines, which is what gave me the idea. My youngest daughter is an artist, always making something, and I often admire her very nimble fingers.

    01/25/15
    10:08 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kristina, Thank you. Calcedony is a beautiful stone. I love the idea of a makers’ studio. What a great term.

  • Thank you for the introduction to Margy, she’s my kind of gal.

    And on the subject of the anorak: have you looked at “Drippety” on the Athleta website? My California has one: it’s lightweight, packable, and waterproof, with a silky finish to the fabric. I’ve been thinking of adding one to my wardrobe. (My limate justifies the need for many many weights of outerwear!) They run a bit large in size.

    01/25/15
    10:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, That looks good – although that hem in the back is a little unusual?

  • The rug is very pretty, though pricey. But I have to ask if you know where or by whom it was made? Since I found out how many children are involved in child labor, with handmade rugs being one of the worst industries, I’d be loath to buy from the company unless I’d checked it out. Their website is very careful to say that the rugs are designed at Dash and Albert but nowhere does it state–that I could find–the country of origin. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but is ethical buying not a concern? Especially given the (ironic) title of your blog–Privilege–maybe it should be.

    01/24/15
    1:15 pm
    Duchesse said...

    @Wendelah, The company’s “About Us” page on the site says, “We are committed to being good citizens locally and globally. We make ethical, fiscally sound, and socially responsible choices and decisions.” While that does not identify the source of various products, I have a hunch they would tell a customer who inquired.

    01/25/15
    10:13 am
    Lisa said...

    @Wendelah, Directly on the product page it says, in a prominent place: “Crafted by artisans committed to fair-labor practices.” I have been talking to another reader about how to find rugs in the Goodweaves program, but at this time it doesn’t seem to be easy for direct consumers to shop the compliant vendors.

    I’ll write a post about Goodweaves soon. The founder/director won the Nobel Prize, which ought to help them raise funds to be more accessible to consumers.

  • What a stunning rug; I would never tire of living with it. IMO rugs are worth an investment (or if a gift, deep gratitude). We have several that still delight us and every visitor after nearly 30 years. Walk happily!

    What a sweet acknowledgment of your husband’s loving support- an early Valentine.

    01/25/15
    10:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, :). Am actually smiling.

  • Bea Arthur always comes to mind when I see a woman over 50 in a long vest- but those “faded scroll denim” pants she made are killer. Isn’t that Margy •wonderful•? She has the eye and the hands. An advantage of sewing (especially at that level) is that you can wear exactly what you want.

    Thank you for the introduction!

    01/25/15
    10:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, Bea is one of my heroines!

  • Beautiful new rug. We have a very small Dash and Albert rug at our farmhouse in front of the kitchen sink. It looks great after almost nine years of us.

    01/25/15
    10:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, Oh hooray! Testimonials roll in!

  • I enjoy Margie’s work also. Small world, that I enjoy both of your blogs. Your trip sounds wonderful, and the rug is gorgeous. Enjoy your room.

    01/25/15
    10:15 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susie, Thank you so much. A very nice small world indeed.

  • I enjoy Margy’s blog as well. I had hoped to meet her last year, but had to cancel a trip when my back was bad.

    That rug is fabulous! It would look wonderful in my living room. I think you will have great fun with it in your office/studio. Since reading your blog I’ve discovered Kathy’s site and love to go and look at the pictures. They always make me happy.

    01/25/15
    10:15 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, You and Margy share a lot. I hope you do have a chance to visit, eventually. Los Olivos of itself is a really fun trip.

    01/25/15
    5:41 pm
    kathy said...

    Thanks Mardel! Always makes me happy to know that someone actually looks.

  • Your new rug has a handmade look to it…subtle shades and looks very plush….almost bespoke. I have hooked two small rugs and they take many many hours…I might post them on my blog. Both are very bright and colourful…very artsy cousin in their style.
    Your mother is indeed generous!
    I admire Kathy’s art and her trained eye must make it easier when decorating a home.
    My husband has that “gift” in our home!

    01/25/15
    10:17 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, You hooked a rug!?!?!?! I bow to you. I bow to you. And to your husband.

  • While I agree that High WASPs, along with every other ethnic group, weren’t encouraging of their female member’s artistic aspirations, they weren’t all that oppressive either as Edith Wharton, Mary Cassatt, and Katherine Hepburn to name just a few certainly made a name for themselves although I know my own grandmother and her 4 sisters would likely be in agreement with you as their father (a Lawrenceville/Princeton man) didn’t even want his daughters to go to university.

    **thanks for getting the email fixed; they are arriving without complication now

    01/26/15
    1:24 pm
    Lisa said...

    @gsl64, Glad the mails are back, thanks for saying hello. I agree, the High WASPs were not alone in the patriarchy:), I do want to take care to detail what it was about the nexus of women and art that they found particularly difficult.

  • Margy may be a fool for fabric, but she is no fool where great style is concerned!

    @Kathy, your artwork is beautiful, but I especially love that your website opens with a video of you working. Very cool!

    We ran into Bea Arthur at a graduation at Sarah Lawrence. We thought she was a friend of our Mom’s. She looked so familiar, but not “star-ish”. We realized who she was when she spoke to her family. No long sweater vest, but VERY tall.

  • adding – so nice to have a lunch & shopping day with your mom :)

    01/26/15
    1:24 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, :).

  • The rug is great! As is lunch with Mom (I do miss mine!) As for this stage where you find yourself, with you, I think it will be more of a chrysalis stage – I think something stunning will come out of it all. Here’s to the new year, and new adventures.

    01/26/15
    1:25 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita, I’d be thrilled to be in a chrysalis right about now. I will cross my fingers.

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