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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.