Thursday, January 17, 2013

Growing Pains - Workspace Dilemas

OK - I've been at this jewellery making malarkey long enough to know that I'm not the only one whose workspace is a mess but the frustration is growing and I fear I am reaching the end of my tether. This is was it looks like most of the time these days not to mention the stuff that has spread around the rest of the house...


I've never been good at clearing one thing away before I start on the next despite the fact that it was my mothers mantra for most of my childhood years. I think the concept must be alien to a creative mind that has to act on an idea when it happens not after the washing, vacuuming or dusting have been done. This wasn't a problem when I was solely making jewellery but since I've been making components and become steadily busier, managing my workspace has become more and more stressful and despite constant reorganisation, I have finally run out of room.

I've just had a good clear up though so I thought I'd take you on a little tour of my 'bijoux studio' by which I mean the 9' x 6'6" third bedroom in my small three bedroom house that started life as a study and still has to fulfill that function too. It's actually quite difficult to photograph this room as you can't get enough distance to get everything in so my apologies for the less than brilliant photos.


This is my desk/worktable and this is where I have to do all my creating...metal clay work, jewellery design and fabrication - the sum total of available flat surface, with the exception of the floor of course. Beneath the table there are boxes 'out of sight out of mind' stuff (which means I can't remember what but I haven't missed it so who cares!) various boards, mats and assorted other miscellany. The draw unit however is one of the most important things in the room housing as it does 3 large boxes of art beads and a smaller box of Czech glass beads - I like to be near my art beads at all times!


Garden designers always recommend that if you only have a small space go vertical with your design and I adopted that principle a while ago, hence the cheap pine bookcase that stands on top of the desk. Nothing bespoke or designer here - everything is of the cheap and cheerful variety. This is home to all my findings, shipping documentation and all those bit and pieces that are useful to have at hand.


To the left of this we have my metal clay table with all it's associated tools and consumables. When I set this up the aim was that I would actually do my clay work here but as you can see it's been completely sacrificed as a depository for equipment and numerous pots of bronze and beads in various stages of completion. In any case it's too small for the quantity I produce now and the rather messy nature of metal clay means it's impractical to have other projects out when I'm working on clay so it all has to go away.


This trolley was bought to provide easy access to more of the tools and kit I use on a daily basis that were cluttering up the work surface. Pliers and cutters, punches, frequently used wire, hammers, files and part finished projects all live happily here. I thought I was being pretty clever with this idea until I saw my AJE colleague Jenny Davies-Reazor's studio and realised she'd cottoned on to it way before me. The floor is is usually littered with any number of boxes waiting to be 'sorted' - these contain beads from unsold jewellery that I recently dismantled waiting to go back to their relevant places.


The large bookcase houses the study element of the room with all my household files and a collection of art history books from my studies with the Open University a few years back. I have half a Humanities degree which I hope to complete at some stage. This area also houses three shelves of tools, equipment, more wire, boxes of beads, buttons, leather and linen cord.


 The next bookcase is mainly a bead store and home to my gemstone, vintage, seed and all other non art beads. The Chinese style cabinet houses my silks and the bottom shelf more tools and wire, molds, jewellery display and so on. On top of this another old  bookcase had been salvaged and commandeered for yes - more kit and favourite jewellery books and magazines.



Finally we have two rickety old TV tables which have been set up as a 'make do' drilling, soldering and pickling station - far from ideal but the best I can do in this space.


 In case you're wondering, my kiln lives in the garage along with all my enameling tools and equipment. This picture is an old one taken before it got used much because it's a complete mess at the moment and it's so cold at this time of year I only go out there to load and unload the kiln.


So you can see that I can organise and everything has it's place but even though it all looks quite tidy here, the moment I start work chaos will take over and I guarantee it will look like the first picture within 24 hours and I have to say it's beginning to get me down. The time I spend clearing up after every session is wasted time to me but I can't not make a mess.  I dream of multiple workstations where I can leave things be while I move on to another task. I'm about to start making stock for my first bead show and lord knows where that's going to go!

So, what to do short of moving house which isn't really an option...well I could take over the larger guest bedroom and tell visitors they'll have to stay in a hotel but I can't see that going down too well though and actually, I think I may have a better idea...

It's my birthday tomorrow and a milestone one in as much as I will reach an age where I can choose to start taking a pension from an occupational scheme I contributed to for a large part of my career. It dawned on me the other day that with this pension comes the option of a tax free lump sum and do you know what...I'm thinking maybe I might just take some of that lump sum and turn that cold, dark garage into a bespoke studio/workshop. I worked hard so I think I've earned it and it's crazy that the thing I love to do most and spend the larger portion of my life doing is all crushed into the tiniest room in the house. What do you think...good idea...you'll all support me on this won't you...?

Anyone know the phone number of a reliable builder....

Lesley
The Gossiping Goddess




































28 comments :

  1. Yes, Lucy's husband Harry.......and go for it Lesley, you have earned it.

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  2. Love that you are brave enough to show your mess!!! You are right, you aren't the only one that makes one, just one of the only ones that will own up to it!
    My space isn't much bigger to work in and it spills out into the living room and dining room for the big projects. I took in the Garage when we had to buy a new heater for the house. The installer put in new venting into that part of the house and we sealed off the doors and put in a little insulation... I still close it off for the Winter and the hottest part of the Summer, and dream of the day that I can Have a new wall with real windows put in place where the garage doors are... Good luck with your project if you choose to undertake it!

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  3. You're so right! With something which is so important for onself and takes up so much time... it really doesn't make sense to squish everything in the tiniest room! Took me a while to get into that idea. I have now a work / crafting room (for the work I bring home as well as for my creative stuff) which is also the smallest room in our flat... but... it is mostly used for storage! Because my partner (even if he love open and clean space and hates all cluttering!) wants me to make my things in the big living room. Even if a part of the room gets a mess... he just doesn't want me to separate and be alone in the small room too far away from him ;)

    I also have a probpem getting everything in order... and I am also always into several projects at the same time (at it makes sense, because some things have to dry, other to bake, etc... you can't wait until one project is finished, wasted time!).. and... oh yes... always a big mess! I don't like the mess when I see it... but while I am creating I love to be surrounded by everything, be able so see what is inside all boxes, just take things and combine them. The best ideas happens at random sitting inside the mess... not because of the mess itself but because I am able to see everything at the same time! It doesn't work that there is something stored away. I won't think of it at the moment I have something in my hand. So I came to peace with my mess. Clean it up from time to time. Store most things in open drawers in just one layer, so I can see them and just take the whole drawer out and back in again. All other options never worked for me and stopping creating is not an option ever :)

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  4. I definitely think you should turn your garage into a workspace for yourself, especially as its something you love and enjoy to do - you should have a space that reflects that and not one that can almost put you of crafting because you have no work area, or have to tidy up make room to do anything all the time!
    :)

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  5. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one Lesley! I think the mess just goes to show the passion & excitement of creating ;) I was just talking to a friend last night about getting my own workshop built in the garden, a plan I'm hoping to achieve this year (have a look at my pinterest board for some great storage solutions). You have to do it! I will be 110% behind you! :) And many happy returns for tomorrow x

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  6. You certainly have made good use of a small space by going vertical! And I like that idea of using a rolling table for having things handy while creating. My 'studio' is our dining room which has absolutely no storrage so I have no real place to put all my tools for easy access. Thanks so much for sharing. I think you deserve a brand new built for you studio. And by the way...Happy Birthday!

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  7. I still cannot believe all the beauties you create come out of such a tiny work space! (Your first photo could be my workspace at any moment in time...including RIGHT now!) Life is too way too short Lesley - GO FOR IT! If I lived closer, I would pick up a hammer and do it for you (though I would have no idea what I would be doing!!!)

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    1. Patti - I fear that you and I taking our hammers to a building project would be absolute chaos but oh so much fun!

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  8. You already know that we all have a studio that looks that way ... my table is 'clean' for maybe a day, but the second I start another project I have bowls/ drawers/ tool boxes in every direction. You do work hard, and might I add, you make gorgeous, fantastic pieces. You deserve your own dedicated space given how much time you spend there!

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  9. I'm thrilled for you! Go for it - save a little back for travel. Please don't let the construction keep you from blogging! I really enjoy reading about your life.

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    1. No chance Duane - I'm sure it will give me much to write about!

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  10. WOW! A whole room for beads! I have a small 3 shelf section of a linen closet! I say do what makes your heart happy!!!

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    1. Oh Kristen now I feel really greedy :( but then you do work with tiny beads to make your beautiful creations...am I convincing anyone here... :)

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  11. I think you deserve anything you please!! You design and create your studio. Make it the kind you have always dreamed of. You only live once and you can't take it with you when your gone!

    You dislike your tiny little room, but I would be grateful for that much space..lol.
    I currently have a small corner...someday I will have to take pictures and show everyone. Talk about packing stuff in...whew..some days I forget where it is..hahaha

    Happy Crafting
    Tracie

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  12. Heck yeah! I think that sounds like a perfect idea! I had to chuckle through this whole article, Miss Lesley, because I think that you and I are twins somehow. My studio looks just as 'lived in' and my ideas about working are much the same, especially "the moment I start work chaos will take over." I once told my mother "Creative minds are rarely tidy" when I was told to clean up my room, or else. The 'or else' kicked in on the spot! You have inspired me to make the most of my space. I plan to pull everything out of my studio this weekend and put it all back, neat and tidy, in its place and reconfigure things so that I can pull out my TORCH and maybe start making something with it! Wish me luck and focus and perseverance!
    Enjoy the day.
    Erin

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  13. Wow, you're so tidy! Not quite enough energy to read it all today but I will come back :0)xx

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  14. I'm with you! Having a heated workspace, where you can corral everything together, and have multiple workstations? That would be awesome!

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  15. Go for it Lesley!! You only live once. And creating is what you like the most, so it doesn't make sense to do it in a tiny space when you have the opportunity to create a wonderful new workspace.
    If I would have that choice.....I would do it in a minute. And if you have build your new workspace....can I move in your tiny one, LOL. To be honest, that's the size of my complete living space.

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  16. Go for it! We all deserve our own space. I am in the process of organizing my work room, and I wish I had taken photos of the room before I started. I'm still not finished, but I can walk in the room now.

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  17. I feel your pain! Your space looks great and you have organized things so well with what space you have. I LOVE the "Really Useful Boxes" and how well they stack and are good quality (and made in the UK ~ love that!). Thank you for sharing your creative space!

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  18. Honestly, I did pretty good at putting away stuff when I was done at first(largely because I still have small children at home). Until I started making my own components... That's when it all started falling apart! I don't have space to manage a 'creating' space, plus a 'putting it all together' space!! So it all goes on top of itself & creates an enormous mess! =) I think when your beading and creating become central to the rest of your life, then you need to provide a space dedicated to & created for it, and it sounds like you've reached that point.

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  19. I really love how you organized everything. I understand having limited space and trying to stay organized and I just went through a clean up myself at the beginning of the year! I say "go for it" on the studio w/your pension check - absolutely!! And, we'll expect pics of that when it's completed, too!!

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  20. I think you've done a great job with the space you have, but how wonderful it will be to have a space that was designed for you! If you decide to go for it, I look forward to seeing the pictures! Good luck and have fun.

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  21. It looks fab, very organised! And yes you should definitely go for the garage option if you have the chance. Make sure you get heating put in though!

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  22. Leslie, You should go for it. We never know how much time we have and as important as jewelry work is to you, you should have a proper space to do it in. The freer you are to create the better your work will become. You may not get another chance like this so take advantage of this. Don't feel guilty for what gives you so much pleasure. You worked for the money so you should spend it on something that gives you pleasure.

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  23. My room looks like your 1st picture. I started reorganizing in early January, but then my efforts just fizzled out. You are inspiring me to get back to work!

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  24. It's a FABULOUS idea!! Do it! (and I work on tv tables like yours too!)

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  25. One of my favorite quotes- "You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star." Nietzsche I come up with the most ingenious ideas out of the pile of rubble from things that have tumbled together. I have a one bedroom apartment and have dedicated my dining room as my studio, but it just won't stay put. My friends joke that I have a studio with a bed in it.

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