When I started this series of posts about organizing my husband David I explained that his storage needs were unique in many ways. The fact that he needs easy access to nearly 100 (and growing) different mounting templates is one of those unique needs. The templates are created so customers can easily mount his kinetic sculptures at the correct angle. And they take up a lot of space in this workshop.
Here is the before photo......
All those sheets of masonite leaning against the wall are the templates. I suggested storing them vertically under one of the workbenches. The particular workbench in mind didn't make the cut and was sent to the transfer station in pieces. But then David suggested creating a new "packing table" and incorporating the templates in there. After a series of design changes what evolved was a key element in the reorganization of his shop.
Here is the new packing table...
The back side is divided into storage slots. Each template has been given a colorful tab label which extends off the short end. The templates are arranged alphabetically, and just like at the dentists' office, the colors are aligned with the alphabet. This allows one to know at a glance if something is misfiled. There is extra space designed in for future templates and see that brown envelope? That has the supplies for additional labels in all colors to easily continue the system.
This took care of the template issue but as David worked on the idea of the packing table, he started adopting my philosophy of storing supplies and tools near the place you use them. He designed in a removable top under which the packing paper is stored.
When he is packing, the box goes on top and he can quickly pull out packing paper and crumple it up to fill air space. In the previous shop setup, the packing paper was always occupying 6 square feet of the prime workbench. Excellent solution!
And then he attached some peg board baskets to the end of the bench to hold the various tools needed for packing....
These had no home before, and now they do so we can always find them! Such an improvement.
Interested in why anyone would need all these templates? Here is a sample set of kinetic sculpture instructions showing the template behind the sculpture. It is our technique for helping customers correctly location their sculpture.
The excellent craft fair is hard to find. Paradise City does it again and again. Yesterday, David and I traveled to Northampton, MA to visit the annual Paradise City Art Festival. Oh the things we saw! Definitely hurt the pocketbook! This show happens every Memorial Day weekend and if you have never visited and you like fine American Crafts, it should be added to your to-do list. They also have a fall version- Columbus Day weekend. ( Marlborough, MA in March and November, also)
David and I have been attending craft shows since the'70's and we have a system. We arrive at the start of a day, go to the back and work our way forward. Especially at a show that can be as crowded as this one - you can avoid the throngs of other collectors. We take a program and circle the booths that have things that catch our eye. We quickly peruse the entire show. Yes, we are experienced and we have seen the work of many of these craftsman for years. We then go get a cup of coffee and discuss what we still remember, what stood out so much that it is still fresh in our minds. From that we build our "To Buy" list - that combined with a look at our budget. Then we go and buy!
Yesterday we bought more than we planned, and are excited by all of it. Today, I photographed some of it to share with you.
Yes, I have a thing for bowls. I have many handcrafted bowls - copper, ceramics, wood. Yet I always fall in love with more. Many are purely decorative but these will be functional. And they come in so many glorious colors. I can see a growing collection of these. The two above came home with us, but check out some of the variety below.
They have a line of wood & something jewelry with a clean design element. I purchased a pendant made from Hawaiian Koa and Mother of Pearl. Last year I bought a necklace for my mother-in-law from this same team out of wood and silver. We also purchased a birthday gift at this booth but I don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipient.
And then, for the garden...... Two pieces from James Takaki of Iron Arts Studio.
Our home is a showcase for the crafts we have been collecting for years. It has reached the point where adding more means removing something, except outdoors. We have 26 acres of space to fill there! We purchased a dragonfly and hummingbird in iron to grace the garden!
Our last purchase didn't come home with us. Jon will be framing it and sending it on. I have seen the photographic work of Jon Olsen at gallery shows but this is the first time I've seen him at a craft show. He does amazing photographic work with a minimal approach to the New England landscape. We general don't buy much wall art (because of David's sculptures) but occasionally something makes us change our mind.
We just loved this winterscape of a Vermont hillside.
All-in-all a very wonderful day for collecting. Don't miss the next Paradise City Art Festival.
Do you have a noteworthy craft show in your neck of the woods? David and I are planning the "Great American Road Trip" and are looking for terrific shows between Connecticut and California during September and October. Know of one? If so let me know.
We have done lots of different things to improve organization in David's workshop. Rolling carts are one thing that has made a huge difference in productivity for David. It all started with one short cart. He had mentioned sometime ago that it would help if he had a moving surface to roll along with him as he completed tasks on each of his sculptures.
A quick Amazon search yielded this very functional cart. He added the plywood top surface.
David set this up and moved the items he uses ALL THE TIME into it. That is now their permanent home and he spends much less time hunting for them. Also, he can wheel this collection to whatever part of the shop he is working in. Side benefit - I can find things when I share his work space for my projects!
I have been buying a huge stock of Sterilite clip containers from our area Walmarts and we have been improving on the organization with these multi-sized containers. David added a grouping to his cart for additional organization.
I tell you, we probably should have purchased stock in Sterilite before we started this re-org. I keep going back to the store for more.
After the original short cart, David decided to try a tall cart for holding his parts in production. He went back on line and ordered this one. He was especially pleased with the quality and the large wheels.
This one also worked well. He found his shop was better organized as he stored his ongoing projects on rolling shelves. He rolled the pieces to the tools and started seeing savings in time. His flat surfaces were also less cluttered because pieces in progress weren't collecting there. Less time was wasted moving parts and clearing surfaces.
David now has 5 carts on wheels, the one short one and four matching tall ones. We design cart "parking spaces" in various locations around the studio.
Talk about organized! Huge improvement! (Note- more Sterilite containers.)
Because David needed to keep working while reorganization was under way, we selected our tasks based on areas of his studio not being used much by the current task at hand. We identified the back storage corner as the first area to tackle. We figured that organizing this space would help free up some center floor space to allow additional moves. The back corner had become a no man's land.
This corner is a storage area. David stores boxed sculptures, supplies for new sculptures, packing supplies and the generator in this corner. Much of it is either very large or awkward in shape. I recommended building shelving units designed to fit boxes in two layers. The advantage of this would be easier access plus maximizing space. It always seemed we needed the box at the bottom of the pile in his original storage stack. With this plan, David has direct access to any box.
Once we laid out the space, we realized two layers of boxes would fit plus an added smaller shelf for odd items. This is a workshop so the shelving units were constructed simply out of 2x4s and plywood. The result is strong and functional.
David built two storage units in this corner. The back one includes a "garage" for our generator. The generator is wheeled outside when we have power outages (all too frequently!) and allows work to continue. Between uses it is stored inside and previously, all the air space above it was wasted space. With the new shelving system it now is accessible, customized storage.
The space was designed to fit the specific shapes of the things David needs to store - his boxed sculptures, the generator, and supplies. Anything leftover was considered a bonus, and occupied as we rearranged the rest of the shop.
He stocks a large variety of dowels, shafts and other rods. Using PVC, we created organized storage for all of that paraphernalia. We separated it all, estimated maximum space required for when he purchases a new batch, and purchased a variety of PVC piping for the different volumes needed. End result is very organized and congregates a variety of different storage systems that had previously been scattered through out the shop into one clean, organized area.
This back corner was upgraded several months ago and the new arrangement is a huge improvement. We then moved on to workbench moving. I'll continue with other areas of the shop in future posts, so stop back frequently.
My laundry room renovation was a big success. It turned a truly awful space into a very functional and attractive space. After it was completed my husband David asked if I would consider designing a similar upgrade to his studio/workshop. What? My husband asking me to help organize his space? I am sure there is many a blogger out there that dream of such an offer. While his space was in much better condition than my former laundry room (it did have sheetrock and a ceiling!) it had become over crowded and hard to work in.
But first, a little more of an explanation because our set-up is definitely unique. David is a kinetic sculptor. He has been designing and building kinetic sculptures full time since the mid 1970's. His first shop was in the space that is now our family room. Back in 1992 I told him we needed more space for the family and it was time for the shop to move out. We spent some time considering the options and decided that it made the most sense to build a structure on a separate building lot.
It has the bones of a regular house but is used instead as a studio/gallery space. With this arrangement we can sell off the studio as a house at anytime we need to. It made more sense than to build a studio on our house site. I designed and we had David's studio built. David was in full production and he stopped work here, moved everything up to the studio and started work there without ever having time to consider work flow optimization. And for over 20 years, things have just evolved in his shop.
Here are a few before photos:
You can tell by the pegboard and little drawers that David is basically a very organized person. The problem wasn't so much a lack of organizing effort but more one of grouping tasks.
Below is a view from the front looking back.
And the same area from the back looking front. Too many things didn't have homes.
His workshop is a space any DIYer would love to have. It is spacious and well equipped. In fact the spaciousness becomes a problem. Time is money and when you spend a lot of the day walking back and forth, you loose efficiency. And things got lost. David would put a tool down and lose time trying to find it later. An intervention was welcomed!
In the back was the "Everything Else" corner and it was totally lacking in organization. It was arranged in the "stack it on top" method.
We start by discussing how he works and uses the space. We categorized tasks and types of storage. We talked about what worked and what didn't. I redesigned his space and did up a proposal in iDraw.
You can't really see the details but the dusty jobs are grouped together, assembly tasks are grouped and power tools were placed near their assigned tasks. Dust collection is improved and lots of enclosed storage is added. David approved the idea which does keep changing as we work. That is a requirement when doing a project with David. He is an inventor at heart and he is always considering other solutions.
David decided to go ahead with the re-org but we knew he had to be able to keep working as we moved things around. Over the past few months, when there are breaks in his schedule, we have completed portions of this project.
I will share with you a variety of the changes we have made and new photographs of the evolving studio over the next few posts. We are still upgrading. Stay tuned!
Today I am trying to create in someone else's house. I am finding that more challenging than cooking in someone else's kitchen! I am at my daughter and son-in-law's home waiting for them to arrive home with our new granddaughter, born two days ago. This is my third grandchild and I am still awed by the miracle of new life. I decided to create a welcome home banner for Zoe. My original plan was a quick trip to ACMoore for supplies but timing was too early so I searched in the house, found paper, ribbon and a stapler and went to work.
I had a banner swing from the trim work before they arrived home from the hospital.
It was a challenge working. I had a tiny corner of the counter available and used the kitchen floor for layout.
But my creation wasn't the most beautiful of the day........
I went for a walk in the woods with David and we happened upon an old gnarled apple tree on the edge of the swamp in full bloom. I love apple blossoms so we hiked back to house, got some pruners and returned for a couple of branches. The apple blossoms were a perfect addition to my new denim table runner that I just completed out of recycled jeans.
I have a collection of rocks prepared just for this type of off-balanced arrangement. I took a metal flower frog and epoxied it to a flat rock. Each of the branches was then forced down over the metal tines. It was still extremely top heavy so I added additional flat rocks on top. It allows for some creativity in arranging branches.
I had leftover sprays of blossoms so I made a few arrangements for our sun room as well.
And then I took photos.......
I love how they look in the house. No doubt about it - they add to my style which seems to be an eclectic mix of scandinavian, oriental, and rustic country! Is there one word for that style? How about International Country Flair or Global Country? Eclectic Country? Suggestions anyone?
Yesterday I shared with you the photographs of our recently completed desk for David. It is a funky, beautiful piece of furniture and it was easy to make. Today, I'll share with you how we did it. It can be done with hand power tools!
Our goal was to create a functional surface for working with two laptop computers at once. David wanted it counter height so he can stare out the windows as he designs. We knew it was going to be located in the kitchen area which serves as the office space for his gallery/showroom. The space is small yet functional and the desk, which is visible from the gallery needed to be a statement piece unto itself.
The actual design of this piece was then dictated by the incredible slab of live-edge birch we found for sale at a nearby Woodcrafter's Supply. Luckily we have a pick-up truck!
The slab was rough sawn. That means that hours of sanding would be required to make this into a piece of furniture. Here you can see the saw marks across the grain of the wood.
We don't have access to a planner and we also wanted to leave the character of this slab intact. We set up the slab on two folding tables in the garage and I started sanding with the belt sander Dave gave me as a birthday gift last year. DIY'ers like unusual gifts :-)!
I sanded in two hour sessions over several days. I smoothed out the worst of the saw marks with 50 grit paper and then repeated it with 80 grit paper. I sanded both sides.
The edges still had some sections of birch bark which I chiseled off and then I also sanded the edges trying to preserve the character including bug trails.
I switched to the hand orbital sander and continued sanding with 120 grit and then 220 grit sand paper. It smoothed out beautifully but I was shaking in my dreams once complete! It took hours and hours and hours of sanding!
Next, using a skill saw and a guide board ( forgot to take a picture) we cut one edge square and cut off a section for the support leg. We knew the height we wanted. We then needed to put the desk in place to determine length and best direction of the slab.
David helped with all steps requiring moving the planks around. They are VERY heavy! He attached a temporary 2x4 to the wall as a bracket. We had some choices about location on the wall and wanted to know where the studs were.
First placement! It is all balanced here. We determined that another 6" needed to be cut off for best sizing in the space. We also determined the desk looked best with the notch facing out and the sides tapered down. The slab has a significant twist to it that needed to be mitigated with positioning.
We crafted a marking tool to help us cut the top of the support leg to match the bottom of the slab. We needed to match the bow. This tool is a small dowel with a nail through it. It scored a cut line along the leg.
We debated about using a hand-held saber saw or the band saw to cut the top of the leg. Either would have worked. We opted for the band saw to reduce sanding but you could easily choose the other if you don't have access to a band saw. We created a support structure using a rolling cart and a stack of cardboard to support the weight while cutting.
Meanwhile, David created a custom wall support in place of the temporary 2 x 4. This was made out of three matching lengths of 1 x4 pine stock glued together.
We used the miter saw to square up the ends of the wall support. Holes were drilled through this block from top to bottom for threaded bolts to slide into. On the bottom David drilled large holes to allow for a recessed nut. This system would hold the desk tight to the wall. You'll notice this desk has no cross supports. We are relying on the rigidity of the wall and the weight of the pieces to provide the needed cross support. (Again, I forgot pictures but if you scroll down there is a photo of the finished wall bracket.)
We needed to start worrying about keeping things square and level. We created a support system using odd pieces of furniture to hold the base square and in place.
Next we added standard adjustable feet to the bottom of the leg. These little fellas allow for later corrections and small adjustments plus keep the wooden leg up off the floor. This helps in cleaning.
We decided to attach the top to the bottom with threaded rod epoxied into place. Dave put little nails with the tops snipped off into the center of the hole locations on the base and then we lowered the top in place. This marked the center of the holes on both pieces. Dave drilled holes into the bottom of the top and into the top of the base using a jig to keep square.
The holes are designed for a 3/8" threaded rod to slide in. We tested the holes, making sure it fit together.
David used 5 minute epoxy to glue the threaded rod in place. At the wall end, the threaded rod was glued into the bottom of the top slab. At the leg end, the rods were glued into the top of the leg.
Once the glue dried we once again tested everything. Yes! We could get it all in place and it was strong. We applied glue (5 min epoxy) to the leg end threaded rod and added wood glue to the wood surfaces. We lowered the slab into place for one final time and allowed the glue to set.
And finally it was time to poly. Although I love an oil finish on wood, I am too practical to want to live with it. This is a desk in a kitchen. Low Luster Benjamin Moore Polyurethane was our choice.
We needed to paint the pine wall bracket to match the wall so we temporarily repositioned the desk, painted the bracket Navajo White and I polyied the desk. We had been patiently waiting for this moment. We knew this particular piece of wood had a beautiful wood grain, and we knew finishing it would accentuate it. We were excited to see how much. Yes, the poly did a wonderful job in increasing the beauty.
All sides of this plank were finished. It is just as beautiful from the bottom looking up.
Here is a photo of the wall bracket. The visible holes are screw holes for attaching it to the wall right into the studs. What you can't see are the vertical holes that have the threaded rod. Nuts are inserted into holes in the bottom and it is securely held in place. It can be unbolted and moved. (Not in the plans!)
The poly dried and the color was gorgeous but all the brush strokes were visible and distracting. Apparently I hadn't used the correct type of brush.
So I sanded down the desk again (One would think I'd have had enough of sanding!) with the orbital hand sander using 220 grit sand paper. The goal was to sand off all the high spots and reapply the poly, this time with a foam brush recommended by our local paint store. I also added extender to the poly to allow it to dry more slowly. That did the trick.