Making a Studio Shop

 

The fact that I'm writing about a studio, my studio, is still hard for me to wrap my mind around. Not so long ago our house was filled to the brim with miscellaneous piles of cardboard and paper. Poor Dan had to work in a tiny cave surrounded by shelves of crafting supplies and books, while I worked in a 6ft x 10ft studio/office/printing area. Somehow we made it work, and it was doable for quite awhile, but it became readily apparent as time went on that something needed to change. 

Well, long story short, in mid-December of 2016 I learned that this little space was opening up. Rent was very affordable and I knew an opportunity like it may not come around again. So, Dan and I talked it over and decided to go for it, which was equal parts terrifying and thrilling. I had only just left my part-time job a couple of months prior and I didn't think I was ready for this type of financial commitment. But thankfully, with Dan's support, I found the courage to take the risk. 

Oh my...

Oh my...

On a frigid January day I became the official tenant of 221 S. Block Ave, Suite #6. This is what it looked like. The previous tenant (The Freckled Hen Farmhouse) had worked magic to make the space absolutely lovely, so I didn't quite realize what state it was actually in before I got the keys. Well, this was it. Not pretty. That very day a frozen pipe burst in the ceiling and flooded the space with four inches of water. Things were off to a bit of a rough start.

Despite all that, I was committed to making this space my own and was eager to get started. Once repairs from the flooding were done (my poor landlord) I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Sweeping, mopping, and wiping ensued. I bought paint. I bought more paint. I painted every single surface. That alone did wonders, as you can see in the photos below. 

I was going to stop there, I really was, but once I started to see such progress I starting thinking about what else might be possible. So I decided to build a wall. No big deal, right? A few pieces of wood, some peg board, easy peasy. 

Not to scale.

Not to scale.

Oh Leana. It is by the grace of God that this thing even vaguely worked. My friend Emily came to the rescue. She actually does know how to build things, so with her help, the wood and peg board did become a wall (even though I stripped about 15 screws in the process). The purpose of the wall was to partition off my storage area, where I have shelving for boxes, paper, etc. Lo and behold it worked, and continues to stand to this very day. 

My proudest moment.

My proudest moment.

You might think that after building an entire wall I'd be ready to call it good and move in at long last. No no. I decided the final touch this space needed was a mural. I mean, how long could that really take? A flower here, a flower there. One day, maybe two, tops. 

The initial sketch.

The initial sketch.

Well as it turns out, painting an entire wall is quite the undertaking, especially when you're using a tiny paintbrush on very rough concrete (do you see that paintbrush?). It took me about two hours to complete the corner you see in the photo above. But I couldn't turn back now. 

Not actually painting in this photo.

Not actually painting in this photo.

Had to stand in the most contorted way possible to capture this photo.

Had to stand in the most contorted way possible to capture this photo.

Once I accepted the fact that it was simply going to take a very long time, I put everything else on hold, knuckled down, and got it done. All in all it took about a week solid and was worth every minute. 

Now I get to look at flowers every day. :)

Now I get to look at flowers every day. :)

Finally, the space was nearly ready. By this point it was the end of January, and deadlines that had been put on hold were starting to loom. It was time to get this thing finished. I still needed shelves, which was a whole situation in itself (concrete is not easy to drill into as it turns out), but somehow, thanks to new drill bits and friends, it all came together. 

The shelves! 

The shelves! 

Opening day was February 11, 2017. The weather was strangely gorgeous for February, sunny and in the 70s. I was pretty stressed out up until the door opened (literally putting price tags on things ten minutes before people got there), but once the space was filled with friends and customers, I was simply thrilled. This tiny concrete box of mine had actually become a place, a place that was ready to be shared and lived in, a place where art would be made. 

A friend who came to the opening said it felt like the space was made for me, and I couldn't agree more. I work there just about every day now. On Thursdays I open it up as a shop. It's a wonderful feeling to have a spot for everything, both at the studio and at home. No more cutting paper on the dining room table or stacks of cardboard crammed into corners. It was a scary and stressful step in the growth of my business to tackle this project, but my, what a gift it has become. 


THE LOWDOWN
My budget for the project was about $1000, including furniture. Below is a list of some of the items I bought: