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At last, my love has come along!

May 20, 2014 , In: General, Inspiration, Studio
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Well, OK, maybe that’s overstating it a little, but I finished rearranging my working space and I really did feel like breaking out in song at the end. I love it that much.



You may remember that in a recent post, I explained how my space wasn’t really working and asked for suggestions about how to make it better. Thanks to everyone who weighed in – several of you in Facebook chats, asking great questions! I spent three full days moving furniture, sorting and tossing, and rearranging all my storage, and I could not be happier about how it turned out. There are a few small things that still need to be done, most of which require a trip to Home Depot or Lowes, but it looks good enough that I can give you a quick tour.

Studio Redo-1
At the entrance to my area. The chair is at my desk, and the table to the left is a new addition, where I’ll be able to do mixed media work. To the left of the mixed media center, you can see the back side of my soldering station, which I moved to the middle of that long wall – and now I have access to all that great storage!

Studio Redo-2
Better view of the back side of the soldering station. I have my HEPA air filtration unit on the end (the silver box behind the fire extinguisher) and a fume extractor on top. Need to take good care of my lungs! The shelves underneath and on the cart (under the table) contain mixed media supplies – paints, paper, ephemera.

Studio Redo-3
Behind the soldering station is my metals area. That table under the painting is another new addition, which will hold all my large equipment. (It used to be behind my desk area, which was a serious pain in the butt to get to.)

Studio Redo-4
Continuing around the area, you can see the coffee station that Gail and I share (essential to the creative flow, I tell you!). I put that taller cabinet, which contains a lot of my glass, next to my bead storage and sliding door storage – I didn’t dare move those!

Studio Redo-5
Standing in front of the glass storage, looking back at the desk area.

Studio Redo-6
And a little closer. It feels much roomier, I think because I removed the equipment table from behind my chair.

Studio Redo-7
My metals area. Sigh! I just love it – everything is within reach, and yet there’s tons of room to lay things out. Underneath the soldering station, on the metal’s side of things, I put up hooks and hung all my wire coils up where I could get to them easily. And you can see that the kiln is still there, but the huge table it was on is gone – this is much more accessible for enameling and small glass work.

Studio Redo-8
A better look at the equipment table. You can see that the rolling mill (left) has been bolted to a piece of wood which is clamped to the table. I have to do that with the arbor mill and the bench shear, but need to get the wood first.
Studio Redo-9
I have (from left to right) metals storage, enamels storage, and glass storage underneath this run of tables – it’s all on casters and pulls out for easy access. Hanging over the back of my metals chair, you can see my bench apron – it’s going to be mounted to the table under the vise, so it will cover the enamels and glass storage, but it swings out for easy access to whatever is behind it. It will keep all my hammers close at hand. (I broke the hinge trying to install it and need to get a replacement. Ugh.)
Studio Redo-10
Another look at all the awesome storage under the soldering station, on the mixed media/office side of things. I am so happy to have a dedicated space to work on non-jewelry things!

So there you have it: a completely reworked space that actually has more working surface area than when I started. I literally giggled when I took these pictures – it makes me that happy. Of course, it won’t stay this clean for long. I have a zillion deadlines that slid last week while I was working on this so I have to buckle down and get to work… STAT!
I hope this studio tour inspires you to take a second look at your studio. How can you optimize the space and storage you have? Is there some one storage-related investment you can make now that would be a game-changer? (For me, it was moving that soldering station and adding two more tables around the perimeter of the area.) What would make your workflow better and your space more enjoyable to work in? What’s stopping you from taking that step?
Looking forward to hearing about what changes you make in your spaces! 
Until next time –

Francesca Watson

Francesca Watson got bit by the jewelry-making bug in 2008, when she and a few girlfriends took a simple stringing class at a local bead shop. Now, she is co-owner of The Makery, a working and teaching studio and gallery in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio where Francesca creates and teaches metals, wire and enameling full time, and indulges an emerging interest in mixed media. She and her husband Nick have been married since 1989 and have one grown daughter.
  1. Reply

    Looks great Francesca! Glad you figured out a plan that works for you. I need to do the same. But I think my plan involves getting rid of lots of stuff 🙁

    • Reply

      Yeah – it's a lot of work but purging turns out to be a really good (and cathartic) thing, though. I can't even tell you how good it feels to work in this space.

  2. Reply

    wow wow wow – Can I please come live with you…haaa. On a serious note I think you have done a fab done, having an entire room to myself for jewelry work is still a fantasy for me let alone having so many tools and supplies

    • Reply

      Divya, I started out at my kitchen table, like most folks. Take it one step at a time, and focus on how to set up creative and useful storage for yourself so that pulling things out to get to work doesn't seem like such a chore!

  3. Reply

    Awesome! We are looking to move, last time I swear!, and part of what I look for is room for me to set up in and get off the kitchen table!

  4. Reply

    A maid would make my space easier to work in 😉 Great job. Looks beautiful.

  5. Really wonderful space to work in. I have been moving my workroom around for the past two weeks, trying to figure out what I want and need in my tiny space. I think the purging idea is what it is going to take. Maybe storing those things that I just can't turn loose of in another part of the house? My biggest problem is the recycle stuff that I keep. Any ideas on that? I collect metal pieces to use in jewelry; copper, brass, aluminum. anything really that I can find I save to use in bracelets and pendants.

    • Reply

      I'm not sure how small your place is, but investing in good storage options is essential. Keep the stuff you use most often close at hand, preferably in open containers or drawers so you don't have to do a lot of work to get to them. If you have open shelves, keep things neat and easy to see by collecting those bits and bobs in Mason jars – you can get them in bulk very inexpensively, and I love how they look grouped together on a shelf. If they aren't your thing, try baskets with lids and use them to collect plastic organizers with similar items – it will help you to keep things organized if you keep like things together. The baskets keep things looking nice, but you can use inexpensive food storage containers inside them, in whatever shape and size suits your needs. Finally, don't forget the space underneath tables and high up on top of shelf units – those are great places to store things you don't need to get to every day.

  6. Reply

    Your work space is awesome. I keep rearranging my space, but haven't really achieved the functionality that I'm looking for.

  7. Reply

    Loved the Studio Tour!
    Chris Kaitlyn

  8. Reply

    Loved the Studio Tour!

  9. Reply

    Your space is awesome! You found such great was to optimize!..there is so much at your fingertips, and yet it still looks roomy and light! I'm currently sharing space with my hubby…I keep looking at his side, wondering when I can begin 'the take-over'?!? 🙂

    • Reply

      Hahaha! Yup, I went through that – my husband was eyeballing my studio at home (he paints), so I just gave it to him and opened a gallery! LOL! 🙂

  10. Reply

    Awesome job! Looks like a very usable space now. I cleaned mine but still working on storage. We are supposed to be adding an addition which will give me new studio space, though not large. That will be a treat if the contractor ever gets moving on it.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Carol! The awesome thing about building new is that you can think through all the things you want (extra electrical plugs?? water??) and put those in during the build. I am finding that limiting the amount of wall storage helps keep the space feeling open – too many high shelves and I start feeling claustrophobic! Good luck on coming up with a space that works for you!

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