Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015

I will never have the perfect studio.  There will never be enough storage of the right kind, enough light, enough supplies.  The tool I want will always be over there, and not right here.  My chair will squeak.

I would say I know exactly where 98% of my supplies are at any given moment, but I admit I wish I could find that thing I keep thinking about that I want to use right now.  I tend to do the zen thing in regard to objects that disappear:  I wait until they re-emerge.  There are several elements that keep popping up ("There it is. I'll remember where that is now") and disappearing repeatedly.  I tell myself they are needed more in another dimension, and when the time is right they will return to me.  Sometimes that works.  Usually I move on to one of the other ten projects I'm working on at any given time.  This is one of those lessons in acceptance that I hate so much.

As empty as his wallet.
The lovely people who make specialized studio furniture want us to know that the only reason everything is not absolutely right in our studios is we don't have their $2000 storage units.  Apparently at least a few people are taken in by their ads, because they're still in business.  All those tiny drawers, those little doors to put things behind.  This is intriguing furniture, like a finely crafted Japanese puzzle box.  But how would I feel if, after purchasing a whole row of these in a fit of insanity (did I swallow some Titanium White?) one of the solid maple doors got dinged, or I splashed some paint on a brass hinge?  And does this furniture actually hold supplies better than a plastic drawer unit from Target?  In short, is it worthy of my admiration, of my desire?

All tidy and well-labeled.
No.  The purpose of my work is to create, and I can do that even if all of my supplies are in one pile on the floor.  It's a step up to put them in cardboard boxes.  And having them in plastic drawer units, old desk drawers and metal filing cabinets, as I do, is working well for me.  At the right you see one of two walls of varied storage.  I found the green unit, which holds my beads, charms, sprockets and embellishments, at a local antique store for $80.  It was that inexpensive because the store sells antiques and didn't know how to price it.  The wood tower in the middle is composed of two sets of drawers from each side of an old desk. The desk was left in my husband's former house by an old girlfriend, making both of their losses my gain.  I stacked one on top of another, gluing them together and reinforcing with a steel rod (the drawer units, not my husband and his ex-girlfriend).  It has worked for me, holding glue, tape, brushes, pencils, and so on for several years.  The drawers need to be reglued, but I'll get to it.  The plastic storage bins to the right hold all of my paper supplies, stamps, inks, waxes, clips, note cards, etc.

I had to put waxed paper over the window because one time I looked up and saw a bird looking down at me. The bird at outside ground level made me feel suddenly trapped in a hole.   That was so disorienting that I couldn't let it happen again.  In order to combat the normal basement darkness, I had my handyman install a massive array of extra lighting and with the addition of task lighting I can work there in the middle of the night if I want to, which I don't.  The area is clean and dry and very climate-controlled.  The spiders are gone now because we spray-foamed the heck out of all the cracks.
Further storage, with supervisor.

The one essential thing that is missing in the studio is water.  There are no toilet facilities or water source.  I have to take all the water I use down with me in containers and bring up the used water when I'm done.  Then, because we have a septic system out here in the wilds of Ohio, I put all the containers of paint water out with the trash.  Even though it's acrylic and therefore essentially nontoxic, the paint in the water would certainly do damage to our septic tank, because acrylic is an adhesive.

No space is perfect.  But in the five years or so since I set up this studio I've realized what is truly important about any studio or workspace: The space is totally mine.  And that is pretty much it.  All other issues are so secondary as to be nearly tertiary.

You might be able to turn out a necklace or two at the kitchen table, but - for safety's sake if for no other reason - you can't cut bits of wire or set sticky things out to dry where people are going to be eating and playing.  A working craft/art area is not pet- or child-friendly.  It's not a public space, by definition.  The only thing a studio really needs to be, in order to be a success, is private.

Gustav Ignatius Turner ("The Goose"),
eater of plastic and tape.  
There are always challenges to my privacy.  Any workmen who need access to the furnace must walk past the studio area.  I only hope they aren't looking, or that, while looking, they cannot perceive my essential self embodied in the space.  It always feels like an invasion, but I haven't thrown a tantrum about it yet.

The storage and packing areas for our two Etsy shops are downstairs now, right next to the studio, separated by shelf units. That's the only place for that kind of thing, because one of our cats eats things he shouldn't.  The other day Spousal Unit "borrowed" some scissors from my studio for the packing area.  He "forgot" to return them.  Yes, I was outraged.  No, it will not happen again.  Now he has his own scissors.  My scissors are too sharp for him, anyway.