Monday, March 24, 2008

Organizing Your Art Space by Stacy Alexander

Today, I'd like to talk about ways in which we can organize our work spaces. I have borrowed some suggestions from a writer on followed by photos of my own studio, Stacy Alexander's Studio 44:

Step 1:
Top your must-have list with a taboret. This rolling cabinet, designed specifically for art and drafting, keeps a variety of supplies organized and accessible. Available in heavy-duty plastic or hardwood and in a wide range of sizes and prices, these smart carts are the next best things to live apprentices. Some taborets have foldout wings on the top to create more work space; others have pivoting drawers or integrated easels. Shop online at and at brick-and-mortar art stores.

Step 2:
Set up one extra large multipurpose worktable in your studio. Cover it with replaceable, self-sealing plastic so you can cut on it. Regardless what medium you work in, you'll eventually be cutting something. Alternately, buy a large self-sealing cutting mat that slips behind a door when not in use.

Step 3:
Find copious storage space in flat files--the stacks of long, slim drawers found in architects' or engineers' offices. They provide superb storage for canvases, paper, mat boards, sketch pads and printing materials. Available in metal or hardwood, the units can be stacked and configured to fit your specific needs.

Step 4:
Store different mediums in separate areas if possible. It will help eliminate the tendency to grab your fine needle-nosed jewelry pliers to pull staples out of an old canvas.

Step 5:
Keep surfaces and work areas clean. Creative spasms get messy, but make only one mess at a time. There's nothing worse than oil pastel on your worktable getting all over a charcoal drawing, or spray-mount debris destroying a watercolor.

Step 6:
Install adjustable, good lighting over all work surfaces. Large, south-facing windows are a boon to any creative endeavor.

Step 7:
Hang nylon organizers with clear vinyl pockets. Some have small pockets only for paint tubes, while others add larger pockets for brushes, pens and sketch pads. Designed to hook over a doorframe, they can also hang on a wall hook near your easel. An added advantage: They're easy to hide in a closet if the room has to serve other functions.

Step 8:
Stick to a shoestring budget and still create great storage for art supplies. Muffin tins, drawer dividers, silverware caddies, earthenware crocks and plastic storage tubs can all do valuable organizational duty in the studio. Create an art cart similar to the ones teachers use in classrooms. Place casters on a nightstand or a small bookcase to make a movable storage piece.


I didn't follow the writer's exact blueprint for an organized studio. Here are some shots of my own work space:

This first shot shows where I keep most of my painting supplies. Since I work in a lot of different types of media, it is important to keep things organized for easy access.

Studio 44 - Picture 1

The next photo shows where I keep my mosaic tesserae, grout, adhesives and other mosaic supplies:

The following picture was taken from the perspective of looking toward the front of our building while standing at the rear garage-type door. The white bins in the foreground hold broken tempered glass. The shelves in the background hold assemblages ephemera and the large plastic tubs above hold textiles. The stairs lead to the upper floor which is our living quarters.

This shot is another taken from the same perspective. The stacked blond wood you see is a series of glass cabinet doors upon which I make tempered glass mosaics. The old, dark wooden shelving system next to the doors is an antique drying rack where I store flat work.

Next, we have a photo of my beautiful, solid wood drafting table. This piece was made entirely by hand...even the screws that hold it together. It is my pride and joy.

The next picture was taken from the perspective of standing near my drafting table looking toward the back of the studio. The white bins hold ephemera such as vintage photographs and tiny bits of metal for collage and assemblage. The table in the foreground is my sewing area. A big tub of handmade paper is sitting on top of it in the shot. You can see the sliding garage-type door and a Darjit! sculpture hanging upside down near the top of the door. You can see an old screen door near the sliding door that I use to go across the bottom of the door. I usually work with the door open and this screen keeps my dog, Tad, inside. His bed is nearby so he can keep an eye on passers by in the neighborhood.

Last, but not least, we have my work tables. This area was constructed from some handy solid wood doors that my neighbor discarded. I make big messes when I use the epoxys necessary for the tempered glass mosaics projects, so I cover the surface areas with heavy paper. That makes clean up a breeze....sort of.....not.


freebird said...

You have such a nice large area for your studio. How wonderful! I have a corner of my bedroom. When I sew, I spill over to the living room.

I sure understand the point about one project's left-behinds infecting a new project. It's happened and I keep hoping I've learned my lesson - till the next time! I can imagine several work stations helping with this so in my exuberance to start something new I wouldn't be so inclined to take chances.

Pauline said...

You are right about keeping organized. I like to scrapbook and I find that I am more creative when I do not have to constantly search for my gluestick or marking pen. Everything has its place.

That said, I agree that you can organize even on a shoe-string budget. I do not have a lot of room, so my supplies are kept in a big box. Inside this box, I have used shoeboxes, ziplock bags and school folders to further organize my materials. It is not ideal, but it works pretty well.

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