Hello Dear Reader!
Suffice it to say I have had many "squirrel!" moments of distraction and have not gotten back to writing here as soon as I had expected/planned/hoped/intended. Your patience is appreciated as I continue to work out rhythms and systems for being an effective blog hostess. (And a special thank you to blog sister Kathie for encouraging me this morning to do another installment!)
When last we met, I promised to tell you about what I’m actively doing to bring more joy into my life (legacy strategy #1). In a nutshell, my professional life has been in a cocoon during 2020. I'm coming out in 2021!
First and foremost, as a jewelry artist of 20+ years, I've never had a studio space. I've always created jewelry ad hoc on my lap since 1999 when I began. I like having the TV or an audiobook going in the background while I create (tell me a good story!). This has meant working wherever the TV lives in the house. But this has also meant the area around my chair in the living room is a hot mess most of the time... It's also limited my tools since hammering, soldering, drilling, etc. are not easy to do on a lapdesk.
Around September or October my dear spouse suggested we build out an actual studio space for me (does she rock or what?!). She assures me this was not feedback, swearing my mess doesn't bother her, but she wondered if I'd like to have a space of my own for my business, Wait, you mean that's an option? I could have that? Really?? Yes, please!
Originally this was conceptualized as a mezzanine platform built above the living room/office area of our A-frame home. They have mezzanine kits and an architect friend was helping us make sure we could add the weight safely. To make a long story short, we ended up pivoting instead to converting our guest bedroom into a studio that can serve as a guest room as needed (one day we will have visitors again). One of the key requirements was to make it fast and easy to shift back and forth between studio and sleeping room. Much of it will be mobile (on wheels) so we can move things around readily. We aren't hosting a lot of company right now (Covid19), but we live in the forest and during wind storms we actually sleep in this room. Another desire was to re-use as many of our existing furnishings as possible, and I've made many trips to our local Re-Store to supplement (they're like a thrift store for building materials).
Over the last few months, we have been making this dream come true..
- We’ve entirely resurfaced the former bedroom which hadn't received any updates in the 8 years we've lived here. We replaced the old carpet with bamboo floors (we laid flooring together before and it was fun to dust off those skills and get in the groove again!), painted all surfaces, installed clean pine baseboards and a new ceiling light fixture.
- We’ve purchased and built a pull-down murphy bed. That sentence makes it sound so much simpler than it was. This was the biggest expense and we went round and round on whether to buy something or build something from scratch. We ended up buying something online, with a million thanks to my handy spouse for putting it together!
- I located an old flat file (architect) cabinet! I've dreamed for years of having a flat file cabinet for storing my materials in shallow format. This cabinet was built by a local architect ~40-50 years ago and was fairly basic. It's wood (I strongly preferred over metal), was priced right, sourced on Craigslist right here in our little town and has great bones. Also, it is HUGE so we had to slice it in half horizontally to get it into the house! We added new pine frontage and long handles on the drawers, so it's just beautiful now. I still haven't moved all my stock in here -- I'm waiting until my workbench is ready, but I can't wait to be able to open a big drawer and see so many options at once. (You'll find a before and after image at the end of this post. We still need to install metal trim around the front corners, but what a transformation already, right?!)
- My desk now has the unique distinction of being on skateboards! It has locking wheels so I can reposition it around in here as desired, and roll it completely out of this room when we have company come to stay. I want the room to feel comfortable and welcoming for guests, and want to be able to function outside when company is in residence.
- I have a display wall set up for completed jewelry. This has been a revelation! I love that I can spend time visiting all my beautiful little jewelry friends and enjoy them until they go out into the world to their forever homes. The wall needs lighting, so that concept is getting some of my daydream, creative time. Currently I'm thinking I might like the wall behind the jewelry to glow (like a backlit panel). For now, the displays are up (shallow, ornate, wood shelves with tiny nails to hang the goodies) so I can still enjoy my little lovelies as I continue to dream on the lighting project.
- I have a chair in the corner when I can sit and plan, daydream, sketch, talk on the phone, lounge with a book, and where the kitty can nap comfortably. We are one of those animal-centric households so kitty must have a cozy a place to hang out with me! I've spent lots of time dreaming about my IDEAL lounge chair solution, but for now we've moved an extra IKEA chair in here that was crowding up the living room. I'll spruce it up with some colorful cushion covers made by an enterprising Etsy sewing artist. Boom.
- I have a permanent photography station set up on top of my flat files. Historically I have *not* enjoyed taking pictures of my work, and with one-of-a-kinds every item must be photographed multiple ways for online store listings. This photo cube solution offers consistent lighting, making it relatively easy to do snapshots any time of the day or night when the need or mood strikes.
- And (drum roll please) I will have a workbench, also on wheels. An actual jewelry workbench! What a revelation! We are (I'm using the royal "We" since my spouse is doing most of the construction) converting an existing storage cabinet by building on a $5 used tabletop at the desired height. In the image for this post the table is propped on top of the cabinet with 2x4s as we tried to get the height right so I can either stand or sit. The front section of the worktop will fold down (like a folding leaf tabletop) so there is space to walk around the murphy bed when the bed is down (a clever accommodation for a small room). My workbench is located right at the wide window with prime natural light. The landscaping outside will also get some attention in the coming months since I'll now be looking at it a lot! Functionally, I still want to be able to work in front of the TV by evenings/weekends, so I've picked up several trays during my thrifting forays. I can prep projects on the trays as mobile stations, but now I can also have projects-in-process in here without making my area in the living room look like Pig Pen Lives Here.
- The key design visual in the room will be a line of rainbow-colored glass vases (more thrift store finds) with plant cuttings. You can see them in the image in their draft iteration -- originally they were going to sit on the wire shelf, but they were too heavy, so instead they'll hang from the ceiling over the workbench, backlit by the window. They're the first thing you see when you enter the room! This is a beautiful feature a designer friend thought up, and boy am I excited about the visual. 100 feet of fine steel cabling arrives today and I'll be putting my jewelry skills to work (who knew beadalon and crimping were transferable skills?) to fashion a more discreet alternative to traditional macrame hanging plant holders. Fun project ahead!
It cannot be understated what a joy it has been that I can design all of this My Way. Any color I want! Any style I want! Mine mine mine! My spouse and I have different aesthetics, so it's fun to have a room where I can lean into the delicate, feminine, frilly details I love without concern for how I'm "infecting" our shared space. 😉 She had her own business and workshop it the past and remembers how validating it was to have total control over her creative space. I haven't gone too crazy... yet. The 8-year-old in me wants to paint the walls top to bottom in full rainbow gradient with lots of baroque stencils, shimmery pearl paint on the ceiling, bright floral carpets and throw pillows, a teal velvet bean bag and pink furry slippers. LOL!! Formerly noted designer friend is helping me find ways to express my love of texture and color (with the rainbow glass vases, for example) in a way that I won't find exhausting and overstimulating to work in. 😀 Thank goodness I have such loving and talented people looking out for me!
Let it be said to one and all that my spouse has been a paragon of patience through all this. On top of suggesting a studio space for me in the first place, and being incredibly supportive in my business evolutions in general, she is one of those uber-handy types. I dream up how I want something to look or function and she goes off to figure out how to make it happen in 3D. Am I lucky or what?! I like to think it's a creative outlet for her too, so these projects have been (mostly) fun for us both. It's keeping us busy with while staying home more through the pandemic. (In truth, we are already a pair of homebodies, so this just gives us a socially acceptable excuse to stay home more!)
So now you're caught up on the birth of my studio dreams into reality. My very own Prismflash Studio.
...But wait, there's more! Quite a bit more. But honestly I think this is long enough for today, so I'll pick up the thread next time.
Thank you for rolling around
in the mud with me (or standing on the sidelines keeping me company if you
prefer to stay clean) as I bust out of this cocoon. 😉
I'm so very glad you are here. <3>