Posts Tagged ‘siue’

Make Your Space

April 28, 2022

Make Your Space

Last month I rambled on about Launch Pads. You may have said: “I love that idea but do not have a shop or studio to do that in.” No worries. Use your kitchen table. Most people have access to a kitchen table in one form or another. My very first apartment did not have one but it did have a “fancy” French passe-plat, between our kitchen and our 20 sq.ft. “dining area.” That may have been a bit too fancy. Maybe, I should use the German word Durchreiche which still pretty translates to a “hole in the wall with a small shelf.” Does not matter- when I had my first place, this is where I would work on projects up until the time that I bought a Mid-Century coffee table at a rummage sale for $2.50 (in retrospect, I should have kept that).

Throughout my life, I have always found a place to launch my projects no matter where I lived. Even in the military, I had a 10”x24” bookshelf that I used as my space. Writer/artist Austin Kleon cited Author Joseph Campbell writing about “Bliss Station” with everything set up so that when you have the time between kids, work, life, you can immediately pick up where you left off with your project. My drawing professor, Brigham Dimick, at SIUE would initiate each semester by having students choose a drawing table and pin board to perform their work at. We were instructed to take everything that is dear to us and pin it on our board. We did not have to draw it, we just had to recognize our dedicated creative space.

Of course, making a bliss space in which to place your launch pad will require a bit of organization. I think about this always. Organization is not an “end all.” It is a type of kaizen, a constant learning and adapting to meet your requirements. I still have my original tool box. In my first apartment, it was my EVERYTHING tool box, a few years later it was my hand tool tool box, then my plier storage. Now, it is my model scratch building box. Spaces. Containers. Tools. They can all evolve as you go through life. During my (still) epic search for the perfect space, I have written pages of notes based on other people’s views of organization. As a creative person, there is always the fight between space and objects. Marie Kondo preaches controlled minimalism, Austin Kleon delineates “organized” tools, messy supplies, Adam Savage from Mythbusters and YouTube believes in keeping everything, just have your work areas open. I often play his Tested shows while working in my shop. James May of Grand Tour says to take more of a manager position and keep nothing. Watch his shows like Toy Stories on Amazon. They are true entertainment!  One of my most respected graduate professors insisted on 8 clean workbenches and a 50 foot wall of well labeled matching totes for supplies and research materials. (More on that larger-than-life professor later) I guess that I am a mix of all of these influences. We each look at other peoples spaces and steal what works for our own.

As currently can be displayed and dispensed, I am not 100% into my Bliss Space. I enjoy having a computer near me for referencing/writing, I enjoy my climate controlled Finish Shop for physically working on projects, but also like my garage where I can make dust, get dirty, and store project parts in totes. Ok, at this point, I am not sure if this is helping or not! In an attempt to rescue this post, I will provide some things that definitely work for me.

Top 10 things I have in my workspace: (In no certain order)

Identical storage totes. This sounds simple but when Aunt Mary sends you some mementos to dig through, or you pick up a bargain at a rummage sale, mis-matched totes are a bane to organization. I go with the clamshell totes like the USPS uses that are available here, and sometimes home stores. I admit, I do have some Dollar General versions that are a couple of inches shorter but I can live with that. For larger items on the bottom shelf, I use the Commander tote from Lowe’s. 

Pallet Racking. You have to have somewhere to store items. I am a firm believer in the Extreme Garage steel storage racks from Menards. Pro tip: If you buy two sets, you can separate horizontal bars and span them 18 feet long!

While shopping at Menards, you can Save Big Time by purchasing their lock-together Small Parts Storage by Performax. These babies can lock vertically, horizontally, or be spaced about your studio to organize small bits that would otherwise be lost in a flappy dust covered box under your workbench.

Since we are in the area of small parts storage, one of the best gifts I ever received from my wife was a two sided hardware cart with 72 plastic bins! I have used and reused these for years to adapt to what I was working on. You can get one here at Harbor Freight.

Cutting mats. It does not matter if you are doing printing, modeling, collaging, or anatomical dissecting, you need a good cutting mat. I have multiple. The small ones can be placed on a Launch Pad for whatever current project. BTW snap-off razor knives always accompany each cutting mat. 

Cork Stripping. You may not always have space for a cork board like I did in undergrad, but you can line the bottom of your shelves, or a strip on the wall above your bench with aluminum channeled bulletin bar! This is one of my greatest upgrades ever. That stuff that the school put around the chalk board (or white board) in third grade is great for the shop! Whatever I am working on at the time, I pin references into the strip for the duration of the project.

Notebook(s) Should I have placed this earlier? I did say that there was no particular order to this list. Often, artists and makers like Austin Kleon will have one “holy grail” notebook to log their daily ideas, sketches, drawings, poems, random thoughts in. Not me. I have a sea of sketchbooks that I bounce around between. The important part is that you are iterating- somewhere.

Binders. Admit it- some projects take longer than you thought they were going to. I have an R2-D2 that I have been building for a couple of years. They require a lot of data, measurement, design references, and other tertiary information. Knowing this, I first created a binder for the project with clear references so that when I revisit it every couple of months, I can instantly see all of the relative data before I purchase any given part. 

Pegboard. After 40 years of making, I just purchased a 16” x 16” piece of steel pegboard. At my day job, the simple task of protecting and storing paint brushes was a daunting task. This one simple $15 purchase at Menards solved it. Now, in my shops, I have hundreds of square feet of pegboard but it does not always take that much. Often, you just need to find the right solution for a problem. Speaking of my shop, my finish shop particularly, the pegboard now has kind of a “feature” look to it, highlighting tools that I use often. I always remain flexible in pulling out all of the pegs and starting over. Nothing is permanent. 

I know I said “Top 10” but there is always one more thing. This time, it is graph paper (here). I maintain two large tablets of graph paper in my Finish Shop. When I get an idea, or I am ideating with another maker, I can quickly grab a pencil and explain my idea visually. If it is a good one, I can graduate the grids, and rapidly begin designing to scale. 

In efforts to not bore you too much, I have included many hotlinks. Should you find my blog insufferable, just skip all of my bullshit and click directly on the hotlinks to get a higher quality experience to improve the creative side of your life.

For more intimate pics of my making life jump to IG Sandcruiser13 where you will see behind the scenes shots that happen when I should be working.

Peace-

Sandy