The Studio Saga: Part One

A jewelry studio emerges from a mess

For artists and craftspeople, the studio space is, well, personal. I’m sure that sounds like an obvious thing to say. But after spending eighteen years in the retail craft world, I know first hand that everybody conceptualizes their art – and therefore their studio – differently. Some people are messy – but boy, they know where every snip of wire is. Some people are super-tidy and organized, and they need that open, clean space for their brains to allow their creativity to flow. Because I am in the process of creating a studio space for myself, craft spaces have been on my mind. A LOT.

…your studio doesn’t have to be perfect-looking, it just has to be perfect-feeling.

One of my favorite places to browse on the internet is Ganoksin’s The Jeweler’s Bench Exchange. For years, jewelry artists have been sending in photos of their studio for all of us to see. It is fabulous! What a great place to get ideas for storage or for the use of available space. If you’re like me and you are on the fence when it comes to the messy factor (I am messy but organized and flip-flop from keeping things neat to mimicking a tornado), it also is a good reminder that your studio doesn’t have to be perfect-looking, it just has to be perfect-feeling.

So here is my studio saga. I have a feeling there will be developments in the years to come, so I’m making it a multi-part saga. Right now it involves the question: How do I create that perfect-feeling space out of my dimly lit “home office”?  I put that in quotes because my office was truly at the store for the past 12 years (same with my studio). Now, I no longer have the store at my disposal – with its multitudes of tools, supplies, stones, beads, filing cabinets, storage, and space. I have a 10 x 10 room, that we call a home office. It is actually a catch-all room with a desk in it. And a bed. And all the Christmas decorations. And file storage boxes. And the sporting goods. And… well, you get the idea.

I’m not sure I’m happy with every decision made a long the way, but I now realize the the studio is a living organism.

The first thing I did was get rid of the bed. Gave it away on Nevada County Peeps, a local Facebook community. The second thing I did was start tossing or re-distributing stuff that simply does not belong in the studio. For instance, the Christmas decorations are now under the bed in the guest room. (The guest room, by the way, is now in serious danger of becoming our new catch-all.) The third thing I did was start collecting everything that should be in the studio. The result was a different sort of mess. I obviously hadn’t finished the tossing and re-distributing part of my plan.

jewelry studio


So there it is. All my chaos posted for everyone to see. When I was finally able to see the floor, I was amazed at how little I threw away. Most of this mess just needed some good organizing or relocation to the guest room. (I’ll deal with that mess later, when I have a visitor!)

Day by day, little by little, still working six days a week. I managed to create the semblance of a space where I could make jewelry and do some paperwork. I’m not sure I’m happy with every decision made a long the way, but I now realize the the studio is a living organism. Parts of it will grow, parts of it will become unnecessary. I will work for some time and then decide to move this shelf over there, or hang my wire instead of filing it. I’m not sure I should have painted my peg-board black. I chose not to set up a jeweler’s bench partly because of budget but mainly because I like to sprawl out and a jeweler’s bench always seemed a bit claustrophobic to me. I might re-think that in the future. I need to work on the lighting. I’m concerned about ergonomics because my table is a bit low. All of these decisions are impermanent. The bottom line is, I now have a place to work. I did exactly that the other day and I felt like I was christening a ship on her maiden voyage! As my time in the studio increases, it will evolve with me and and with my work.  I am thoroughly enjoying the process!

jewelry studio

2 replies
  1. Cathy Johnston
    Cathy Johnston says:

    Just FYI, Tim has talked about raising my bench (old sewing desk) by raising the feet/bottom. Perhaps that could work or you. I’m deciding whether to put my bench near the window or on the opposite wall. I really think I see colors better without the light coming from the window but using my Ott lamps.

    • pkjd
      pkjd says:

      My workbench is a big folding table. I was thinking about using PVC pipes on each of the legs to raise it up. I saw a vendor in Tucson do it and seemed like a good, non-permanent option. I have my soldering station by the window and I use task lamps at the workbench. I’m really liking the natural light – and when it’s evening or cloudy, I just pull a task lamp over. Also, that soldering station doubles as my photo space (as long as I keep it all clean!) and the natural light for THAT is fabulous. I guess if it’s really bright direct light, natural lighting might be a drawback.


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