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Tidy Studio…

Last mid-week I had to make myself stop working at the metals bench & begin the process of cleaning the studio in preparation for this weekend’s Vashon Island Artist’s Holiday Open Studio Tour. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the preparation… after the messy chores are completed!

I love having my workspace tidy & clean & organized spare following the months of ignoring the dust residual from just casual sweeping-up during projects like building the new displays & the grimy grit of even the smaller amount of polishing the studio has seen, since most of the polishing was done this season by the foundry.

The place cleans up really well & I did a more intense job of it this time, so the glow it took on came from that deeper attention. While I have never been one of those who has a precise place for every little thing & have everything in that place, I certainly have had to develop some patterns of careful organization to keep all my parts usefully at hand while still out of sight. Each of these reorganizations adds to my studio’s fabric & system. Even so, I often see the joke that I seem never to be able to easily find things afterwards for all that effort!

Waxing my old wood furniture is a joy. Many of these pieces have been part of my working spaces for decades. I’m pleased to have collected them early on & they have served me so well, traveling with me in my various peregrinations. I have other, less interesting surfaces as well, of course, painted wood & Formica… in addition to the abundance of concrete as floor & walls. All benefit from the attentions of brush, broom & rag… becoming good therapy even as the process abrades & dries ones hands. I chuckle remembering the old dish soap ads about cracked skin & broken nails I saw in my youth.

I’m ready now, Mr De Mille, for the close-up of my thumb’s painful pad still deep cracking open three days later…

Over many years of experience inviting folk into my workspace for Open Studio I have learned to practice not just cleaning surface but also paring down to the most spare story I can. It becomes a fine game to remove all but the essential parts most necessary to show how I work . Of course I usually work with my tools in clumps & piles only I can sort out, but that clutter would only hinder the 2 minute version I must be able to concisely tell about how the lost wax casting process works while I have a dozen folk playing in this narrow space.

So I get to embellish the newly opened surfaces more freely then, fresh with new opportunity to evolve my story much more clearly. I groom trails, with examples as I can, to draw various kinds of attentions along… samples of work in various stages, exemplary collections of tools, illustrations or objects I’m researching & those I’m simply enjoying for texture or color or form. This becomes showtime

I’ve been claiming new space from the area closest the entrance to the studio which no longer is needed to store the garden tools, which have their own sheds now. I finally got rid of the unused water softener, so now there is clear space for a new workstation I’ve been planning & will explain another time. I loaned my polishing box to the foundry for this production season, so I cleared that workbench of the drill press, other motors & the vice to expose a surface useful to serve the drinks & nibbles, away from the crowded center of the studio, as has traditionally been the layout.

I had to scrub the wall & I covered the outlets with a backdrop of craft paper, bringing the wooden puzzles brought from Venice some years ago down from their home in the dining room window sill. They brought a very subtle holiday mood befitting the occasion. I don’t go in for much traditional color or tinsel these days, although I might add some gold stars for next weekend…

Unfortunately, because both days we had wet, cold weather, there was no crowd sufficient to test that theory of arrangement so well as I might wish. I am pleased with way the table evolved, hoping for many reasons that next weekend will see a fair party develop at that end of the studio.

This, then, is my visual celebration of the studio at its most presentable…

Still it rains…