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I’ll Be In My Workroom

My sister Paula and I saw this sign while I was in Ohio and decided that everyone in our family could probably have it hanging in their home.Truth be told we are a very nice family – perhaps not totally “normal” but really, who is?

I’ve told you before that I grew up surrounded by creativity – mom, dad, sisters – all of them were always making something.  When I was a kid my mom had a room dedicated to her various projects.  It was always floor to ceiling with boxes and supplies.  And I realized when I was home that now, all of us have our own variation on that workroom and each one tells a little story.

My dad has an actual wood workshop (to be shared later) but his office/den is as much a workroom as any.  This is where he meticulously drafts his designs.  Dad is a fairly quiet, contemplative man with a very, very dry and subtle wit and his desk encapsulates those qualities.

How can you not love a guy who has a model train running around the perimeter of his work surface?! (I love this too because it’s really “our” model train that we built together when I was a kid) or who builds special shelving designed to hold his model airplanes!My mom still has her workroom.  She’s in the midst of re-organizing and wasn’t keen on having it photographed but I had to share one of her latest projects.

This picture is a little blurry (cameraphone) but this is an embroidered image of a Christmas stocking complete with a house, a rocking horse, toy soldiers etc.Cute right?  Well, my picture is kind of blurry because the camera can’t deal with the actual size of this:Yeah.  That’s a quarter (you may recall I went home for her 90th birthday last December)

My sister Sally has always struck me as the Artist in the group and her workspace reflects that.  It’s a total Artist Retreat with paint and brushes and tools. She has been working for years with paper-meaning she makes paper and then manipulates it in ways you would never dream of.  And lately she’s been focusing on making paper jewelry – it’s amazing and beautiful and much stronger than you would think paper has a right to be.

(Sally is also the only one willing to appear on camera).

My sister Paula has an amazing visual eye.  Really everyone should get a present from Paula if only to marvel at the wrapping.  She can put together combos and designs like no one I know.  And she can and does make anything and everything she does looks beautiful – even just how she organizes it.  I discovered that I couldn’t get a good picture of her whole work space (it’s huge) so I focused in on the details. 

Phebe and a Paula hang out together a lot and team up on projects.  Paula is organized but Phebe is super-organized.  Phebe has all her ducks in a row…..alphabetized…… by species and genus.  Trust me, if you’re trying to get something done and done beautifully, creatively and efficiently you totally want Phebe in charge.

And the next generation is getting into this too!

Maggie is Phebe’s eldest who just moved into a new home.  She has carved out her own workroom and at some recent point was given a sewing machine.

Her first project?  Something simple, perhaps.  A pillow?  No.  Sewing the hem on a dress?  No.

She took this chair.

And turned it into this – for a comfy spot in her workroom.

You know….easy peasy.

OK, so now I’m totally guilted and I vow to get my workroom camera ready for next time.

About cheltenhamroad

I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people my whole life. My mom can, and does, make anything. The family has on occasion speculated that she just whipped up my dad one day when she discovered some left over fabric and stuffing. My three sisters have mad skills ranging from needlework to cooking to out and out ART. My father’s desk when I was growing up had a model train set going around it, oh, and he made that desk-from scratch. I’m the youngest and, as you can imagine, it’s a hard series of acts to follow. Truth be told, I’ve spent many, many years suppressing the creative instincts I learned at home. But I realized (rather late in life) that few things bring me more joy than making and creating. For the longest time when I went to stores I didn’t think, “I want that” I thought, “I can make that.” And, with a deep breath and a leap, I’ve started on a very new, kinda scary path. I’ve given up my steady, dependable (dull!) corporate life to spend my days happily humming away in my garage designing, creating, painting, decoupaging and sawing and, since this blog will be an honest take on things, there is also a fair amount of tripping, spilling and swearing. Through this blog I hope to share with you the struggles and (hopefully) triumphs of a very non-businessy business person. I also hope to make this blog a resource for people who like to work with their hands and who are, like me, always looking at things and thinking “I could make that!” I’ve lived many places since I left Cheltenham Road; I currently live in Los Angeles California. So, with this preamble- Welcome to Cheltenham Road! Please come on over and make yourself comfortable – the place is always open.

10 responses »

  1. OMG, I’m famous! Thanks for featuring my space, Uncle David! I was so glad to get a chance to hang out with you on your tour of the Midwest… someday I’ll make it to your corner of the world and see this mythical beast you keep alluding to. And by that I mean your workroom, of course.

  2. Ok, that’s it. I am officially adopting myself into your family. When’s our next family reunion?
    Your new older(est) sister,

  3. Can I just say (as a proud sister to Maggie Fryer) that she didn’t have ANY instructions, step-by-step blog post, pattern, or advice to go by on this monster of a chair project!!!! Absolutely ridiculous. Can’t sing enough of her praises!

    Love your posts, your art and your face, Uncle David. So good to have gotten to see you – brief though it was.

  4. OK, just for the sake of readers of this blog I want to state that I do not, at this time, have a collection of ducks….though I admit, with some chagrin, that if I did that that is exactly the way I would organize them…and how did my brother know that? Thanks for the blog today, it gave me quite a laugh!

  5. As a lifelong friend of the Engel family, I really enjoyed this blog post, David.
    Maggie, you need to come to my house and start on my 22 year old sectional couch that is too comfortable to part with. What a pro you are, Maggie dear. As is the whole family! Phebe has always amazed me with her creativity and artistic talents. I loved seeing the whole family’s artistic creativity! Thank you, Uncle David, for your wonderful blog. You are a terrific talent yourself, as well as an outstanding writer!

  6. Geez, David – you’re family’s amazing! I see where you get it from. Great shots – I love the portrait of Sally.

  7. I think you’re a nice, crafty family! You can’t escape your genes….

  8. For sure you are not a normal family! You are all abnormally, wonderfully, talented and artistic. It is a treat seeing all your work spaces and getting a taste of the creative projects that you’ve made. And, photographing the spaces and some of the projects is itself an interesting idea and great fun to be able to view.

    David, I hope you’ll make the sign available for the rest of us to purchase, namely “Please remember, everyone else thinks we are a normal family.” I’d love to have one.


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