Thursday, June 25, 2009

Creative Spaces: Crazy Busy

By Kat Arcand

Welcome to Winona, Minnesota home to Stena Lieb and her store, Crazy Busy and her creative upcycled bags, prints, paintings and sculpture.

Stena creates her treasures in the basement of her home, but also likes to take her work outdoors to watch her boys play while laundry dries in the sun on warm summer days. When the weather is less than cooperative, she claims the kitchen table as her work space, since working in the basement can get quite cold.

“I have slowly been taking over a little bit more of the basement as I can,” Stena says. So far so good -- her husband hasn’t even noticed!

Inspiration comes in many forms for Crazy Busy. Pages from magazines that hang from the vents in the basement, trinkets and treasures and art books all help in the creative process.

Stena keeps her space open and friendly to visitors. “I love talking to people while I work. It’s also great for getting input on things,” she says. When she has her kiln going, the basement is off limits to her boys, and rightly so! That kind of heat can be dangerous to those who aren’t experienced. Any other time, her boys are welcome to join her in the creative process. “My three year old will sit for hours with paint, stickers, crayons or markers it he is not bothered by either of his brothers. My six year old … collects piles of string … off of the floor and makes potions,” she explains. “I just have to make sure he doesn't snag stuff I can still use.”

A table set up for the majority of her work along with a work counter and storage cabinets fill her space. “My kiln tucked in the corner,” she says. “I keep all of the items that are for generally the same purpose together.” A lot of her crafting space is somewhat mobile, including her sewing machine. “I move around a lot when I work, so my space is small enough that I don't mind going back and forth to find things.”

Keeping tidy and organized can be a challenge for Stena. “Because my space is so small, I try not to collect too many random things, but that is a battle I have yet to win.” She would like to have a larger space to paint and sculpt, but at the moment there is no room for her to branch out. Stena even has a little help from her twin sister, who sometimes comes to organize while she works.

Stena’s basement has a story of its own. “Our house used to be a huge college party house for years before we moved in.” While cleaning up, empty bottles and even a ACDC tape have been found. “My basement has seen a lot…”

Finding time to work with three kids at home can be tricky, but Stena devotes every Tuesday night to her work. Also, Stena has created a crafting group amonst her friends that meets to create together and work on their own projects in a friendly and supportive environment. “We relax, work, laugh, and sometimes drink some wine…”

One change Stena would like to see in her space is more natural light. “I am stuck in a basement, and I have almost no natural light in the daytime.” Even still, Stena receives load of support from her loved ones. “My husband does not understand my thought process when I create stuff, but he will make me things I need to be able to create more easily.” He has so far created her a work bench and is working on more shelves for her items to keep them from boxes stored on the floor. He even had her father-in-law re-wire and re-light her work area and kiln (what a sweetheart!). “If he wasn't suppostive of me and my work, I would not have a work space at all.”

Find Crazy Busy on Etsy: