Studio Tour

I have always wanted an art and craft studio. Space is rare in our small home so there wasn’t really much chance of having a studio when my kids were young. I often worked at a table in my bedroom and stored my craft materials in bins and boxes all over the house. Finally, when my son left home I took over his room and turned it into an art studio of my very own. He came back during winter break, but now he has moved into his own apartment and this room is all mine now!

I’m a big believer in recycling and repurposing, so instead of hiring a handyman to create workbenches and cabinets, I made use of what I had or could find second-hand. Someday I do want to have my husband build some benches, but for now this is working very well. I’ve considered getting a new floor, but honestly that ugly vinyl flooring is very functional!

I’ve been involved in many crafts over the years and have collected an impressive amount of diverse materials. Although I mainly work with polymer clay now, I’ve designed the layout of this studio to be useful for my many other hobbies as well. You wouldn’t believe what’s stashed in this little 10 ft x 10 ft (3 m x 3 m) space. Welcome to my studio tour!

View A: My Main Work Desk

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View A: My desk and claying space.

I found this very heavy desk discarded at the curb many years ago. It’s very, very sturdy and it has a great Formica top that stands up to all sorts of abuse. The top didn’t have a lip on it to attach my pasta machine, so I got the bright idea to attach a shelf to the side with standard shelf brackets. That also gave me the advantage of a larger work surface. I keep my mixed up clay in plastic floss boxes on the desktop. They sit under a board on risers (actually a shelf with feet made of cut off closet rod). On top of that are several plastic drawer units which hold clay tools, molds, cutters, rollers, and other miscellaneous things. On the wall shelves above are bins with various brands and ages of unmixed polymer clay packages. I tend to buy just the primaries and mix my own colors.

The paintings you see in these pictures are special to me. My grandmother painted the American southwestern ones. I painted the blue Monet copy when I was in college. Someday I would like for the upper area of this room to be an art gallery. The small prints in the corner were purchased from Robin Mead Designs.

View B: The West Wall

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View B: Storage on shelves and the grinder table with knitting storage.

In this view you can see more storage on shelves on the wall. This includes paints, resin, finished jewelry, and some of my ever-present cobalt blue glass. I have a ton of that stuff, but most of it is in storage.

The small bookshelf unit is a really handy size. It is filled with photo album boxes that hold my yarn collection. You see, I used to have a fairly obsessive knitting habit and I still mean to get around to using up all this yarn. Honest!

See the framed cross stitch piece in the center? I developed a serious obsession with counted cross stitch when I was working on my master’s thesis. I have found that during very stressful times in my life I tend to immerse myself into crafts that are very controlled and precise. I suppose the predictability is comforting.

Having two trash cans, by the way, means that I tend to just throw things in that general direction when I’m busy working. Some day I’ll buy a big trash can, but honestly they take up a lot of space!

View C: The Cutting Table and Workbench

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View C: The cutting table and workbench with storage below.

Did you know that I spent many years as a seamstress? I taught myself to sew the summer after high school and spent a good 20 years being fairly obsessed. I sewed my own clothes for years and also made clothes for my babies. Nowadays I don’t do much sewing, but the machines do come out for mending and alterations on a regular basis. My girls love that I can fix anything and make anything fit them.

Anyway, the cutting table is a fantastic general crafting resource. I use this table for all kinds of things where I have to spread out and make a mess. The gridded surface is very handy for measuring things and I use my rotary cutter on it to cut up hangtags, cards, and other packaging material for orders.

On top of the table in the corner is my netbook, that way I can check email real quick (without getting sucked in like I do at my desk). I also listen to a lot of music and podcasts while I work.

There is a lot of stuff stored under the table as well. There is a plywood board to be used when soldering my stained glass. A small ironing board. A glass tabletop for when I need to work with anything sticky. The winter heater is stored under here. Then there’s my glass grinder, lots of spare fabric and sewing supplies, my entire bead stash, an easel, and a stool so I can sit at the table and work. I used to use this table when I did craft shows and I still had the table skirt from that. It is attached to the table with velcro. The table is just a standard 6ft folding banquet table, but it is raised to counter height by inserting the legs into PVC pipes to act as risers. The light is a standard inexpensive shop light, about $12 at Lowe’s. It’s plenty bright for general illumination.

I also use this table to take photographs of my work. I have two inexpensive clip-on lamps for lighting and I set my work on a piece of white foam core board that I have sitting behind my chair. I clamp the lamps to the shelves above the table and adjust as needed to get the best light for what I’m taking a picture of.

View D: The Door

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View D: The door.

I love my door. I love that it closes. And locks. So I can hide in here when I don’t want to be found. Mothers will understand that. It also means that I can lock the cats out if I am working with something delicate.

On the back of the door I’ve put up some dry-erase Contact paper and some corkboard. I keep meaning for this to be a place to have a to-do list and editorial calendar for the website, but I find that notebooks and paper work better for me.

You can see my tripod in the corner and more art on the wall. The cat litter boxes are really hand for keeping bulky things. These hold some assorted stained glass scraps and one bin has a whole bunch of copper and metal scrap bits that my dad found in a box at an auction.

View E: More Storage

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View E: Storage shelves.

Let it be known that I think plastic shoeboxes are the greatest invention since sliced bread. They hold a lot and they can stack on top of each other, allowing you to organize a phenomenal amount of stuff in a small space. You can see into them, too, which means you never lose thing. (Okay…seldom lose things.)

On the bottom shelf there is a vintage metal milk crate that holds sheet glass. The next two sections above that hold scrap glass and glass tools. The two upper sections hold boxes of sewing supplies. This is where I have zippers, seam bindings, velcro, pins and needles, various notions. On the top is a bin of origami papers and books, believe it or not. Yeah, I did that too.

View F: My Thinking Chair

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View F: My Thinking Chair.

I found this IKEA PS Armchair at our local Salvation Army for $27. What a bargain! It is insanely comfortable and serves as the control center for my world. When I’m not sitting in it, though, there’s a fair bet a cat or a child will be.

The rolling carts in the corner hold my fine art supplies, colored pencils, brushes, etc. They’re topped with some spare particle board that came from a defunct desk. Notice the inexpensive clip-on lamps. I need to do a post about those, but they’re what I use to take photographs of my work. I’d like to rely on natural light, but it’s not predictable and this room is north facing. Using standard swirly CFL bulbs gives me all the light that I want and I can usually do any necessary color correction in software.

View G: The Sewing Cabinet

Art studio craft room of The Blue Bottle Tree.
View G: The sewing cabinet.

I’ve had this cabinet for 20 years and it’s served me well. It holds my sewing machine and serger (both Viking Husqvarna) and lots of miscellaneous sewing supplies. On top of that is an inexpensive shoe organizer from WalMart. It allows more small bins to stack up holding my jewelry findings, my rubber stamps and stamp pads, and various textures and bits that I most commonly use with my polymer clay. The little drawer units hold washi tape, pens, spare glasses, and all sorts of bits and bobs.

View: Getzger Cat

Getzger Cat, a blue Abyssinian, lying on the floor of the studio of The Blue Bottle Tree.
Getzger is a constant source of amusement and companionship.

You might have noticed a rather silly looking animal in the above pictures. That’s Getzger. He’s an Abyssinian, which is a very active and busy breed of cat. True to his heritage, Getzger never resists any opportunity to get in the middle of what I’m doing. He’s getting on in years now and is getting creaky but that doesn’t stop him patrolling the house, back and forth, and following me into every room. Some days he hobbles and limps, but he is always there. He’s a good guy. He’s also very wise and has contributed some interesting ideas about art.

So there you have it. It’s certainly not a fancy studio but it has lots of room, lots of light, and it’s very functional. I feel blessed to have it and love that I can get busy working when an idea strikes and then leave it all out when I need to go do something else. It’s great having a place for everything, too. No more stuffing things in bins under the bed or behind a chair. It’s not finished, by any means. I think a studio is always evolving as our needs, interest, and art change over time.

I have a Pinterest Pinboard about studios that has some good ideas on it. And I am always looking for more studio tips and tricks and organization ideas. Tell me, do you have a studio of your own? I’d love to see pictures of it. Post links in the comments below.

24 thoughts on “Studio Tour”

  1. How lovely Ginger – thanks for sharing your space and ideas – I love it that nothing has to be expensive! You wouldn’t believe how much we have in common girl – other crafts, sewing (I have three cabinets of a fabric stash), storage ideas…etc. I am blessed to have a basement (yes, the only one I know of in Arizona!!) with a living area and small kitchen and I’ve taken over all of it just for me – yay!! I’ll post pics on my facebook for you – hugs, Michele

  2. You have a lot of things in your studio. I would like to open your box with paints, resin, … Did you use tripod when you take picture your jewelry? You have a lot of light in your studio. I don’t have, but I need to add some light in my workspace.

    1. Sometimes I use a tripod to take pictures, and I always do when I’m taking pictures for tutorials. The room is north facing and onto a porch so the natural light is actually quite poor. But the overhead and shop lights really help. If I need more light in an area, I use those cheap aluminum clip-on lights. They’re so handy. I found that I had to have the clip-on lamp over my desk…the shop light wasn’t enough. But then I have old eyes, too. (And that’s just getting worse.)

  3. This is an extremely AWESOME studio. I’m have to say I’m very envious. I look forward to when we finally get our new house (in a year or so) so I can actually have a studio too. Right now I have shared space in my husband’s office. We both love your layout and really enjoy your photos. My husband says his favorite photo is of your Shop Cat. Our cat shares our work space too… btw, would cat hair qualify as INCLUSION? 😉 Thanks for sharing Ginger.

    1. Well, I’m envious of having a new home. Your husband would love Getzger. He’s a real man’s cat. Make sure you check out the link to Getzger’s Facebook page, too. The pictures show why he’s so much fun. You can see him being blessed by the priest (he goes every year), meeting a ferret, riding in the car, pumping gas, going to Walgreens, and lots of sleeping upside down pictures.

    1. Thank you for saying that. My inner 13 year old looks at this room and thinks that it’s neither character-filled nor charming and cute. But you’re absolutely correct…it’s functional!

  4. I love your studio Ginger! So clean and bright.. *sigh* I did chuckle about all the supplies for different mediums though. My favorite saying is, “I’ve tried just about every art/craft and have the left over supplies to prove it”. My sewing machine is in the bedroom, seldom gets used now, but I did make my daughter’s wedding dress a few years ago. The cross stitch and embroidery supplies are in a plastic tote in the basement. I don’t knit, but I do crochet…

    1. My mother calls me a dilettante, which I never thought was very flattering. But I am one. I get completely immersed in a new craft and it’s all I live and breathe…until I find something else to do. I suspect many of us visual creatives are like that. And no, we can’t throw away the old things because you never know when you’re going to take up mixes media assemblage and all those bits and scraps will make their way into ART. Right? Am I right? LOL!

  5. Loved seeing your wonderful studio. Well thought out and visually so pleasing. Lots of new creative work will coming out of there, I’m sure. Beautiful paintings from both you and your grandmother. You come by your talent honestly! Your crafting/arting background is certainly mutli-faceted and your seamstress skills a wonderful plus. Kudos on creating such a special and creative space,

    1. I think I’ve had this room in mind for a while. So when my dad put the windows in the front and insulated the room so my son could live there, I insisted that the walls be white and that new outlets be put in. I’ve been collecting bins and carts and stuff for a while. It will look completely different a year from now I’m sure!

  6. I loved your studio tour! It is so well organized and looks very comfy! Me to, i love plastic storage bins….. :-$

    1. It is comfy. I was really glad there was room for a thinking chair. A girl’s gotta have a place to sit and ponder thinky thoughts. And the dollar store has really great bins right now for back to school. Mmmm…plastic bins….

  7. Oh my you are the exception with your neatness aren’t you! Probably born that way. It’s more like explosions in my work areas and the more space I have the more mess there is. I am lucky to have lots of space though and even have to maintain studios in two locations. I find that I like the lampwork in that I can and have to keep my work contained in at one worktable. Sewing, collage and mixed media, forget it! even cooking is a whirlwind for me but I tend to work fast which results in a mess. I can’t even believe how much of a mess I make just packing orders!
    Last night I ended up on the couch with the coffee table in front of me making piles of polymer pieces which was nice as I didn’t have to sequester myself in the studio. That will be today when I do the painting of the pieces as I know that will be another maelstrom.
    Thanks for the tour, I think it’s about time I gave another tour of my areas now.

    1. HAHAHAHA!! I am NOT a neat freak! You just caught me when I just rearranged it all. It will descend into its usual mess soon enough. And I’ve only been in there less than a year, so there’s not much time to collect crap. When Gary moved in five years ago, I ditched so much of my stuff, too. I went through this minimalist kick, which was necessary with five people and four cats living in this tiny house. I make a huge mess when I’m working, especially when I’m in the throes of a great idea. But I will say that I tend to clean it all up between projects. If I had more room, I would have piles. I am a piler.

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. thank you for sharing all the great pictures and your storage ideas. I really enjoyed your tour. Gives me a push to clean my studio up. And YES plastic bins are the bomb. I think I am the plastic drawer queen if Idaho. LOL Not only in my studio but all over the house.

    Chris

    1. Plastic bins are a necessity when you do mosaic! And you do tend to work all over your house, too, so bins make everything portable. How’s the bathroom surround coming along?

      1. Hi Ginger,

        The bath surround is installed. I still need to grout the seams and add the edging. The many trips up and down the ladder made my knee angry at me so I had to change direction for a little bit for it to heal some. So I am working on the toilet now. LOL LOL LOL I can do that seated. Hahahaha JOKE
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/50185661@N03/9242621487/

        All joking aside. Your studio post put the fire under me to clean up my studio. And we are having vinyl installed in a couple other rooms in our house so I wanted to move some books out of our master closet to the book case in my studio. This made me clear out the books I really do not need to keep any longer to lighten the load on the the studio floors some. This clean up process has already taken me three days. I am still not done. YIKES.

        The good part is when we went to town yesterday I wanted to buy some of those three drawer storage containers like you have on your desk. Knowing they are expensive I had my mind set I could afford 5 of them and make that do. Got to the store and they were on big sale and I bought 12. WOO HOO!! Now I have all my small glass and china bits sorted into them. I have 17 of them all together. The drawer boxes fit on my shelf on the wall and within my workbench shelf. Like both pieces were made for them, My husband was freaked when I bought 12 and came into my studio to look today to see where I put them and was surprised to see how they all fit. I am thrilled. When I finish I will add pictures to my flicker album.

        chris

        1. Oh no, I was a bad influence on you! Or good, depends on how you look at it. Rearranging is hard work. Fantastic news on the storage units. They are very useful, though I find that mine balk with anything too heavy in the drawers. I would think keeping glass sorted would be hard. Mine’s all dumped in plastic shoeboxes. The toilet looks wonderful…I would SO do that. Maybe I will once the messmakers leave home. I always enjoy your pictures and look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to. Thanks!

          1. Hi ginger, I agree on the plastic three drawers. I need to not put too much glass in them. I have small plastic litter pans for the larger pieces of glass and they are stored on shelves. i just keep refilling my smaller drawers as needed and paw through the pans for bigger pieces. But they also sit on the shelves like drawers so they really work well. I can not imagine them being used for litter pans. They are way too small. LOL Probably why I got them at the dollar store.

            I added pictures of my finally cleaned up studio to flicker. Can’t wait to get back to glass work. Had to put it all on hold while we got the new flooring in sewing room and hall. YES I have two working rooms but sewing room also doubles as guest room and office. We rarely have company.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/50185661@N03/

            Chris

            1. Okay, going to Flickr to see. When Katie leave home for good next May, her room will become a guest room and hopefully office for my husband. Oh I would love new flooring in my studio and laundry room!!

  9. I really enjoy studio tours, and yours is no exception. I love the painting of the aspens and I believe I’m going to copy your touch of hanging art above my workroom windows.

    1. I saw a studio like that once on Colossal.com or such and immediately thought of putting the paintings up there. They’d been lying in a dust heap in the garage for a few years (since we repainted the living room) and I was really glad to give them a rightful place.

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