Perhaps the best thing to happen for me professionally, artistically, mentally, emotionally and a lot of other -ly’s in 2010 was the relocation of my jewelry studio to the Studios at 210 in the Benton Harbor Arts District. I started the process of moving in October, and have more or less completed it in December, although it will continue to be a work in progress as I assess my needs and make changes to improve how I am able to work in the space.
Although I have had a separate studio in the past at the Box Factory for the Arts, this is the first time that I have had all of my jewelry tools and supplies in one space. I had things at my studio, in my basement, in a spare room, in the garden shed, etc. It was a hindrance to my creativity, to say the least. I was able to capitalize on my experience in my past studio to thoughtfully organize this space so it would be most beneficial to my processes. In addition, as I was moving in, I very methodically sorted through boxes of supplies and other materials that had been thrown together and left that way, in some cases for years, so that I started out more organized at the outset.
This is the bench where I do most of my work. Above the bench are a couple of corkboards; something I had always wanted and now finally have the space to utilize. Now I have a space to pin things that inspire me.
This the part of the bench where I do most of my wire working. I photographed it in a typical mid-work state: Boxes of findings open, pliers where I just laid them, spools of wire out, my Blackberry within easy reach, multiple measuring tools…
I was inspired by my studio neighbor Vicki Cook to get a stump for my forging needs. The stump is very solid and absorbs the shock of the blows very well. Since it is isolated from my bench, it doesn’t rattle the items there or on the wall. It also makes me a better neighbor, as it is more quiet than hammering on my bench. The stump is maple, from a tree that was felled on our property at the time I was moving into my studio.
Around the corner of the “L” shaped bench is where I do fabrication, drilling, grinding, polishing, filing, and other processes. Two of my most valuable tools are at this bench, my trusty Micro Mark mini drill press that I have used for years, and my new Foredom flex shaft, which I just purchased this spring. I am still learning how to fully utilize all of which the Foredom is capable.
Above the bench is an original piece of artwork which I created a few years ago. The name of the piece is “Neith: The Creator Goddess in Repose.” I really like to be surrounded by the things that inspire me. She is beautiful above my bench.
In a moment of inspiration, I created a space for some of my oft used tools to be accessed readily. I think at some point I would like to utilize a pegboard on which to hang my tools.
Another really great piece of art hangs by my tools; A little ceramic winged goddess. I purchased her years ago – at this point I don’t even remember where.
Moving to the right of my bench is a shelving unit that holds a lot of my working supplies: Finished gemstones, books, catalogs, my jewelers scale, etc. This unit I purchased years ago when I was at the Box Factory.
I had purchased this set of drawers years ago and it had sat in my basement unused until I brought it to my studio this fall. I have filled every drawer with rocks, found objects, tumbled glass, rock slabs, etc.
The piece of artwork above is me, as done by my husband Brad Bigford. It is a painted relief, done in wood. The bust is paper mache, which I purchased from a rummage in the Arts District years ago. I frequently use it for display and photographing my work.
Here is drawer of beach glass and rocks.
Another drawer of crystals.
Various polished stones.
Another drawer of primarily coins. Like I said, all of the drawers are filled, so this is just a small representation of the treasures to feed my creativity.
When I moved into my studio, I purchased some new wire shelving units for more storage. It also functions as handy space to hang my jacket.
This is my “wet” bench. The tools here utilize water for grinding and cutting.
And lastly, moving to the right again – my new soldering bench that was a present for me for my birthday this December. It has a marble top that had been previously utilized at a bank. I just added a pickle pot at the end of the year. It is very small crockpot that had gone unused in my kitchen for years.
Above the bench is a metal picture of one of my favorite good girl gone wild icons of all time: Betty Page.
My productivity has increased exponentially since I have started to utilize my new space. When I am there, I feel very clear and focused, which is a contrast to how I felt when I was working in my cramped room at home. I am looking forward to my continued evolution as an artist in my studio.