Hey all! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you guys here on the blog - but I’ve got a gameplan together and you should be hearing from me more regularly. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (which you totally should be) I’m sure you saw that I have big plans for 2016. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Amy, it’s already February, you’ve totally missed the whole New Year’s Resolution thing.” You’re right. But I’ve spent January getting my plan together for the year. So while I did not have this magical plan right on January 1st, I decided to take the month of January to plan for the rest of the year and establish some good routines. A few of those things have been getting more organized in my studio life, planning out blog posts, creating a guest post/collaboration submission form and lining up some free things to give away during February! The first of which you can check out here, and if you want to be notified first about the rest, opt in for emails on that spiffy purple bar at the top of my page!
So without further ado, here is my list of the three most important tools in the studio:
1. Drafting desk: This is the desk that I have and I love it. I am a coupon aficionado so I got a really good deal on it! If you’re looking for something that’s a reasonable size and pretty good quality, I would definitely recommend it.
Why I love it: It’s the perfect size for me and the top piece is adjustable. The surface adjusts two ways: I can adjust the angle of the surface and the height. Personally, I prefer a higher desk, so I just leave it at the highest setting. It has decent storage in several different places and little pen holders that I use to store pipettes for the Pebeo paint I’ve recently been obsessed with. Also, I can break the whole thing down and fit it in my tiny little hatchback whenever I move (which is soon!). From an aesthetics perspective, I’m a big fan of the light brown tabletop because it looks oh so lovely in pictures!
My advice: Find the desk that works for you! If you need a giant table to cut fabric on, I’d recommend checking out something like this trestle/table top combo from our Swedish friends, but if you need something that can bridge the gap between desk work and art work, I’d recommend a hybrid like mine that will serve both purposes. Goodwill or the Salvation Army are both great places to go digging for a well-loved desk that just needs a new home and has a more affordable price tag!
Easel + Lamp
*Disclaimer - I was given an Ott Lite Easel Lamp for free as compensation for writing an honest review about it on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. I promise I will never recommend a product I don’t love.
2. Easel and lamp: I am SUPER proud of my easel because I built it myself (sassy hair flip girl emoji) and it is so sturdy! As an artist who lives in the 2D and 3D world, having a solid easel is essential. I can create a fiber piece almost anywhere - seriously, when they’re in the beginning stages I work on them on the train on my way to work. But if I want to paint, I have to commit to working in a specific space. I feel like as a “real” adult, I’ve graduated from my high school days of monopolizing the dining room table and an easel was a necessity. After doing thorough research, both in person and online, I realized I could make a much cheaper one that would be far more durable than any of the ones I had seen in stores. I followed the tutorial I linked above and it took me in total about two and a half days. I chose to seal each piece with shellac before I assembled them so that way it was a little protected from all of the inevitable spills and paint splatters in its future.
The lamp that I have is AMAZING. Remember how I said you guys should be following me on Instagram? Fun fact - most of the photos I post were taken on my iPhone underneath that lamp. This fancy lamp is designed to emulate natural light so that it is less harsh on your eyes and shows the colors more brightly. Until I got this lamp, I’d been piecing together studio lighting with an assortment of clamp lights, work lights and Christmas lights that I’d accumulated over the years. It’s a pretty odd assortment, and the room I work in gets GREAT light in the morning. I mean killer. Sadly, I am not even close to being a morning person. I need at least one cup of coffee before I want to talk to anybody. So I don’t really get up before work in the morning to paint in the beautiful natural light. Most of my work occurs between 8-10pm but with this lamp it looks like I’m working in that lovely 7am light.
My advice: figure out what your easel and lamp are. What equipment makes you feel like a real grown up capable of making art beautiful enough to share with the world? It could be a real table for your sewing machine or a sturdy pedestal that suits your sculpture carving needs. Either way, find that thing that makes your studio a real one and give it a home in your work space.
3. Organization: This one is a struggle for me. I’m great at organizing my schedule thanks to my favorite planner, but organizing my space is always a challenge. I started small. The first thing I did was organize my wall of paint. I sorted them all by color and laid out a grid using T pins and I got colored binder clips and even if the floor is a disaster, I have a perfectly organized wall of paint next to my super sturdy easel. On the wall opposite what I consider the “instagrammable” side of my studio, is a large shelf that has an assortment of storage bins ranging from small to the large-ish and about half of them are labeled. The other half are just filled with yarn, so labels aren’t really necessary. My favorite box on that wall is the “Danger Box” and it’s filled with all of my scissors and other sharp tools. Honestly, my system could use some improvement and doesn’t make much sense to anyone besides me, but it works.
My advice: Your system doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to work. The hard part is figuring out what works for you. I recommend starting small. Pick one corner or one shelf or one material that you’re going to organize and just focus on that. Or put in fifteen minutes a day for one week, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done if you start small.
What do you do in your studio that works for you? What are your tools you can’t live without? Tell me below!