Studio Renovation

I’ve been in the midst of studio renovation hell for going on 4 months now, and I’m finally able to catch the occasional glimpse of the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel… at least the construction part is done. My own effort to organize and move in as opposed to getting distracted by art projects and just making more of a mess is an ongoing motivational challenge.

I set up my studio several years ago when I was creating sacred space – designing and constructing personal altars – and working with mosaics. I developed a sensitivity to the chemicals I was working with and had to take a break. I discovered digital work & paper arts and began to collect a whole new range of tools & supplies, thus rendering my old organizational system inefficient, to say the least. Recently, it became pretty obvious that my original system was not working for my current mediums. My collection of ephemera, beads, tools, inks, paints, etc. – not to mention the scary rubber stamp collection – had completely overrun my workspace. Please refer to helpful visual aid in the form of the dreaded ‘before’ pictures…

Studio Before

I decided that if I ever hoped to find anything without a 3 day search or to work on a flat surface bigger than a postage stamp, I needed a major reorganization. I needed custom storage. I talked to my already over-worked handyman about doing some cabinetry, shelving, and lighting work & also building me a new and bigger workbench. I was thinking it would take about a month, but after several setbacks – including one mis-measure that resulted in the need to redo 96 custom stamp drawers – it turned out to be more like 3 months.

By this time, I was getting really cranky because all of my tools and materials were packed away in the box collection that had taken over my junk room. Unable to make the art I was accustomed to, I resorted to taking metalsmithing classes. In the end this only served to worsen the problem, as it required that I acquire a new assortment of tools.

I am currently in the process of unpacking my stuff and trying to organize my new & improved space in an efficient and pleasing manner. I begged and nagged my handyman for weeks to get me to the point where I could move in and now I seem to be stalled in the process. I have discovered that my plans in theory are not all great in execution & have had to rethink several brilliant ideas – sometimes after getting a whole category of supplies put away. I have discovered that I have duplicated purchases more than once because I couldn’t find an item or forgot I bought it in the first place. You would think this process would discourage me from adding to the chaos, but sadly, pretty new art toys can still turn my head. I don’t care to count how many times I have declared a moratorium on new purchases only to find that one absolutely essential item I cannot live without & must have right away. I’ve also had to pause in my efforts to make sure I had certain projects finished in time to make deadlines & there was the trip to Portland…

I have many friends asking how the studio is coming, and I find myself feeling nostalgic about those months when I could blame the lack of progress on construction delays. I have made some progress, though. The boxes are half unpacked now, and there is a narrow path in that junk room that you can almost walk through – if you’re very careful. Perhaps I’ll be completely moved in before Thanksgiving… that would be the perfect thing to be thankful for!


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