Friday, February 21, 2014

Underneath It All

 Erin had asked about seeing a tour of my clay studio, and just so happens I have recently cleaned and purged the whole thing, so I thought it would be the best time to show it, before I mess it all up again.  My studio is in the basement, and while this was not really my first intention, it has worked out fine for now.  If I continue to work in clay I would like to have a separate, free-standing studio away from the house, but that's a dream for another time.

If you enlarge these photos you can probably see things much better; there is a lot crammed in there.  Of course, you can see my wheel in the foreground.  It is positioned so that I can see out the door when I have it open in warm weather.  I like to look out over the front yard and I can watch out over the chickens too.  Almost in front of the wheel is 2 kilns and storage shelves for finished ware or bisque.

 As you might expect, firing the kiln does heat up the house.  This is nice in the winter but not so nice in the summer.  I can open windows in the summer though, and have fans, so this helps dissipate the heat some.  The big metal cabinet to the left of my wheel is where I store dry glaze ingredients that come in smaller quantities, glaze making equipment and small stuff like that.  Of course, the floor is concrete so that helps keep things clean; easy to mop.

Just past the kilns is the sectioned shelving I built.  This holds most all my stained glass stuff; tools, glass etc.  I also keep just miscellaneous craft supplies, furniture and firing supplies for the kilns and all that.  Over to the far left is the wood burning stove that heats the house.  It is not exactly the type designed to be used in this fashion (with the ductwork and all) but hey, it works.  For now anyway.  When I build the rest of the house I imagine I'll have to break down and buy an actual furnace type heater.  My bedroom is directly above the stove too, so it stays nice and toasty warm in there.  No cold tootsies going to the bathroom!

Chigger's bed is right there beside the stove too, so she and the cat, have a nice warm sleepy spot if they want it. Chigger likes to sleep outside if at all possible (better to bark at anything that might come by) but she will come in here when it's real cold or rainy.  There is a dog door on the other end so they can come and go as they please.  And in case anybody wants to accuse me of abuse, as so many are want to do these days, I keep the floor swept and mopped so Chigger is not exposed to glaze chemicals or spills on the floor etc.

Behind the big metal cabinet is my work table and wedging table.  This is where I measure out my clay and get it ready for throwing.  Or work on hand built stuff.  All those buckets and stuff underneath are glazes or glaze material.  I have some large metal shelves on the other end of the basement where I store the pottery in progress.  I keep it down there, away from the wood stove, so I can better control it's drying etc.  If clay dries too fast in will crack or warp so there is some technique to it.  There is also a big utility sink on that end for the obvious reasons.  That sink is wonderful, even if I didn't have a studio down here. 

The basement is partially underground but the north side is above grade and we put in lots of windows for light.  Some on the west end too.  That helps make it a nice enjoyable space to work as I can see outside and enjoy the woods and flowers and all.  These are all casement windows too, so I can open them in nice weather for ventilation.
So, that's about it.  There is not much to it really.  I do have some more stuff crammed here and there in the back section of the basement but it's hard to photograph anything there.  I have a nice slab roller back there and that's where I store all my clay (usually around 800 lbs) and a few other things.  Like I said, in the best of worlds I would have a separate building for my studio with rooms and very organized storage and work areas but you have to work with what you've got.

 I added this photo after another artist asked me about venting the kilns.  I should have thought to include that to begin with.  All kilns should be vented, especially if they are anywhere around living quarters.  Venting not only removes the harmful fumes (like sulfur) released by the clay as it fires, but it also helps the kiln fire more evenly, acting as a downdraft.  Most fumes are not really released until the temps get pretty high, and it often gets too warm in here for me to work before that time anyway, but everything is still vented to the outside.  Fumes could pass up into the living areas of the house and plus, Chigger and Callie do go into the studio when the kiln is running and this makes sure they are not exposed to the fumes.


ErinFromIowa said...

This is even better than I imagined. You have a sweet set up Annie. Thank you for showing it to us. :)

ignatz said...

LOVE seeing artist studio's...they are all so very different....your floor IS very clean....nice, organized and tidy space...thanks for the tour.

ignatz said...

Do you vent your kiln fumes? I don't see anything. I didn't realize for ages the perils of not venting....I used to work at my table with my back to kiln and would only leave the room when it smelled funny. Apparently there are lots of particulates or whatever that spew into the air....when we vented off our porch, temporary kiln room, the little plants near the vent outside looked dreadful. Just wondering, not criticizing, maybe worrying just a titch.

pamit said...

Very nice workspace...the windows really give it a "studio" vibe. I like imagining that my bowls (which I use everyday and LOVE) were made here. "If I continue to work in clay"...are you contemplating another medium, like sculpture, stained glass which we know you are also awesome at? --Pam in CO

Floridacracker said...

That's an awesome workspace!
Why am I not surprised at that?

Kenneth Price said...

Wonderful place to make things! Thanks for the tour.

edifice rex said...

Hey Erin! thanks! well, it's much smaller than I would like, and kinda cramped, but it does work.

Hey Page! well, in a small space especially you have to keep it pretty clean or it can lead to health problems, as you know. And yes, I do have a vent system (Enviro-vent, I think?) on the kilns, you just can't see it from where I was standing. Where I went to school they were pretty rigorous on teaching us about that stuff.

Hey Pam! Yes, your bowls were made here! And yes, I'm not sure that I can continue to work in pottery for a lot longer. I may have to go to a medium that's a little easier on the back.

Hey FC! thanks! on both accounts.

Hey Ken! You're welcome!

Ed said...

I dream of having a workshop like that some day. Currently my shop is only that big after I pull the cars out!

JO said...

Your set up is really nice and everything has a place. Like you said work with what you have. When the time is right you will build your studio.

Island Rider said...


edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! that struck me as kinda funny when I first read your comment. I don't think of it as being that big; in fact, it seems kinda small to me. lol! Perspective I guess.

Hey Jo! yeah, I have a spot cleared already up the hill where I would like to build a welding shop/ studio kinda thing. Maybe one day.

Hey IR! thanks!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks for the workspace tour, Annie. And no we would neve think yiu would expose Chigger and Callie to any dangers there.