There is no such thing as a finished studio

img_2572I’ve been meaning to write-up this info for a long time, as much for my own memory as to share with you.  Every artist and craftsman knows the importance of having a dedicated space to work, and how hard it can be to find such a space.  Whether you have those concerns yourself, or just enjoy the misery of others, you might find my journey of interest.

Early days

I did my first stained glass inside, in a spare bedroom upstairs, but when I got into lampwork I knew that I would have to move my operations out into the old shop in our backyard.  The shop was originally an 8 by 12 foot building (I’ve taken to calling it room A), with a high-peaked gable roof and a loft accessed by a primitive wooden ladder.

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Panorama of room A (pre-cleanup)

The previous owners had covered the original roof with a new metal roof, extending the roofline to the right and adding a room with a cement slab floor to the right of room A, which I’ll call “room B”.  On the far side of room B they built a screen porch, which we’ll call “room C”, also covered by that new metal roof.  With an uneven brick floor, minimal framing and ripped screen, “room C” was hardly a room, but it was a covered space, with our cedar perimeter fencing running along the back side.

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Panorama of room B from the doorway to room A. The blue glass door in the far corner leads to the porch, room C.

When we first moved in (long before I had an interest in glass) I just moved some scavenged work benches into room A and B, stashed the rest of our tools and outdoor/shop stuff on the makeshift shelves and in piles in room C, and made the best use of the space I could.

Panorama of room C, just a screened porch (with torn screen).

Panorama of room C, just a screened porch (with torn screen).

Once I started thinking of a dedicated space for glass work, I realized that it made sense to reorganize rooms A and B, widen the doorway between the two, tear out the old shelving and build new storage and work benches. I also ran additional electrical circuits and lighting, and installed some additional insulation so that I could more efficiently heat the space in the winter.  And since summer lasts longer than winter in the south, if I was going to insulate I might as well consider adding air conditioning as well.

That was over two years ago.

The first phase to was to rip out the crappy makeshift shelving, do some drywall repairs (particularly to the sagging ceiling), and run additional circuits and install lighting.  Once I started poking around I realized I was practically going to be starting from scratch, because the drywall on the back wall was not installed on the typical stud framing: the sheet rock was just nailed directly to the cedar fence that ran along the edge of our property!  The shop actually had no back wall in the classical sense, since there was no framing behind the drywall.  So I had to frame out a new back wall, install exterior sheathing on the outside, and  drywall on the inside, with insulation in between.  While I was doing that I framed out a space for a window AC unit large enough to cool the enclosed space.

The ceiling was sagging, because the joists were spaced irregularly and over 24 inches apart, so I had to install a lot of blocking on 16 and 24 inch spacing so that I could nail up 4×8′ sheets of drywall.  Of course I had to plan out the lighting, and run the wiring for that, and then I had to put up all the drywall.   And I needed to maintain access to the area until the end, so that I could install insulation in the ceiling.  Luckily the shop has it’s own 200A electrical service, with plenty of open spots for additional breakers, so there was plenty of capacity for additional circuits.

I got finished with room B (well, almost finished) just in time to set up my torch and homebuilt annealer and do a bit of torchwork before I took my second bead making class (over a year ago).  I was able to fuse smaller items and do lampwork, and had a decent bench space for coldworking my fused work, and I was able to get a good bit done.

At some point in this process I found a Skutt 1414 kiln on ebay for $600.  I got in touch with the seller, arranged to pick it up (almost 3 hours away) and lined up some helpers to load and unload it.  Since I didn’t have the room or electrical capacity for it (50A, 240VAC), I had to store it for over a year.   More on that, and my other recent work, in the next post.