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Pack for an Artist Residency- Montana Residency – Part 1

pack for an artist residency

During the month of October I was an artist-in-residence at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana. How do I pack for an artist residency?


It is always a daunting task figuring out what art supplies to bring with me. Working with fabrics makes it a little bit harder than just bringing a box of paints and some canvases. I have to bring a sewing machine, ironing board & iron, cutting mat and cutting tools, rulers, threads, etc. The hardest part is narrowing down which fabrics to bring. It’s not like I can just mix a new color if I don’t have one. Since I like to be inspired by the location, I don’t always have an exact plan of what I’ll be doing and know what colors I want/need.

This is the third artist residency I have attended and they have all been in remote locations. The advantage of that is that I am in a beautiful natural location. The disadvantage of that is that the nearest small town is usually 15-20 minutes away and a larger town even further. Therefore, I need to bring everything I think I will need because I can’t just run to the store to get it (or I can but it would be a long drive). That is where the packing comes in.


I have a packing list of items. The list gets saved and that’s what I start from for the next residency. Adjustments have to be made each time because of the situation/location. For example, for this Open AIR residency I did all my own cooking. However, at the last residency I was at, Brush Creek Foundation, the meals were provided. So, I didn’t have to worry about bringing much food, other than snacks, or cooking supplies.


Starting with a previous list, I added special items that were needed for the Montana residency. I was warned that there might be bears in the area. Therefore, I added a bear bell and bear spray to my list. Also, since there was no water source in my cabin, I added a water jug to the list. Weather is always a consideration for each residency. Adjustments to the list are made for the seasonal changes.


As for supplies, I try to bring something as a backup to the fabric work, just in case I don’t have the fabrics that I need. I always have a sketchbook and pencils. Because I knew a bedroom would be my working space, I brought a folding table with me (along with table risers) to be sure I had a space for cutting fabric. For my previous residencies, I included a large piece of felt that I could tack to the wall to use as a design board. This time I had a portable design wall made from insulation foam that I was able to fit (barely) in my car.

pack for an artist residency

Some of the other art supplies I brought with me:

  • acrylic paint and brushes
  • large drawing paper pad
  • marker paper for paint
  • pre-fused fabric scraps
  • fusible webbing
  • solar fast paint
  • plain white fabric
  • cradled boards for mounting fused pieces
  • embroidery thread for hand stitching
  • and much, much more!


In addition, I brought an extra desk light (OttLite) which ended up being extremely helpful as the lighting in the cabin was low.

pack for an artist residency

Since packing the car was like playing a Tetris game, I took pictures during the packing process with my phone. After five weeks at the residency, I was able to look at my pictures and figure out how I had gotten everything into the car. That saved me time and frustration.

Below is my temporary studio setup in the cabin.

And that’s how I pack for an artist residency, at least this one.