Friday, November 9, 2012

Questions I Ask Myself While Setting Up My Studio

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

I am in Alto, NM setting up my new studio and thought I’d like to share with you some of the things I’m thinking about while setting it up.I ask myself some questions and then set it up from there.

First and foremost will I be teaching in my studio or elsewhere?
In this case I’ll be teaching in my studio. So I need to look at what my students will need. Since this is in the mountains, they will need a place to put their coats, boots (it snows here), purses, lunches, and tools.  They will need a workspace.

How many students can my studio accommodate and how will I place/make working stations? Where will I sit to demonstrate?

I think I will set up my bench in front of the built-in counter top with drawers and have my students sit in front of me. I plan to put in a counter top along the right side of the room with flex shafts attached as polishing stations.

My studio doesn’t have heat, so I place this fake fireplace space heater in the room and I made a space next to it for hanging coats. In the future I will make some cubby holes for storage for purses etc.

What will I teach?
I will be teaching metal smithing and metal clay classes, so I need to look at storage for tools, books, chemicals, soldering stations, and a place for my kilns. I have a casting kiln and a PMC kiln both run on regular 110 current which is readily available. I need to store my chemicals in locked cabinets. One cabinet will be for flammables and the other for acids. I use acids for plating and etching. I also need to install a fire detector and next to the entry door a fire extinguisher placed at around 4’ off the ground for easy access. Nothing should ever block the fire extinguisher.

The soldering area will be in the far corner where I can open cross windows allowing for venting. Since I am renting this place I cannot install a vent system. This room has windows on three sides. If I need to vent for soldering or for the kilns, all I will need to do is open opposing windows, and place a small box fan on the window sill with it blowing outward.

For fire proofing, I will place some left over granite on top of the counter top. Solderite board works great too. I will attach some backer board or Hardie Board on the wall behind the soldering areas to fire-proof them.

That's my plan so far. As I set up, I will continue to think about these practical and safety concerns and adjust accordingly.


Lora Hart said...

Great post Janet. I'm setting up a new studio too, in a rented space that has no outdoor access. Which means no windows for venting. I won't be teaching soldering to students, so only have to worry about myself when thinking about fumes. But, since I am my own best and most valuable asset, the fume problem has been worrying me. I'm going to buy a small venting fan and jury rig a carbon filter to it to use while soldering (which I don't do much of), and run the kiln at night when I'm not there. I go to the studio every day, but am hoping the fumes dissipate overnight so they won't be a worry.

I'll look forward learning about your other plans as they develop.

kamani74 said...

Thank you Janet,
I too just bought a new house in Florida and am in the process of setting up a teaching studio. I have a tiny budget, so I have discovered the Habitat for Humanity Re store for purchasing my cabinets and countertops. Very reasonable and some really nice custom cabinets show up for next to nothing. I also was lucky enough to acquire a beautiful teak table and chairs for the students to work in metal clay at. It has two extension leaves and becomes about 10 ft long if needed. It was less than $30! But I love your ideas for the work surfaces for soldering and firing.
I have three big windows so when I am firing I have cross ventilation , but sometimes the fumes waft into the rest of the house. So I have to figure out a better way to extract them. I have used doors and put cabinets underneath for support.The previous owner ran a 220 heavy duty outlet for a huge un necessary AC which an electrician friend re wired into 2 heavy duty 120 V outlets for my kiln so I feel better about stressing the house electrics. Thanks again for your ideas!
Marilyn Cook

Anonymous said...

just a thought - I'm a newcomer to this and have taken some workshops. What didn't work was a very large, square table, which accommodated 2 students on each side. The problem was that to clearly and closely see what the instructor was doing, you had to crowd around either side of her as the space in front of her was 8feet of table (hope I'm explaining this clearly). I thought what would have worked better was a U-shape, instructor in the middle on the outside of the U. People could then see from each side and in front.

Janet Alexander said...

Hi Lora and Karmani,
Thanks for posting! I am long at answering these posts due to no Internet at the new house.
Lora, that is a great idea to attach a carbon filter to a fan. There is a fan available for stain glass soldering that will clean the air too.
Karnani, I love finding great deals like that! Thank you for mentioning it!
Anonymous, thank you for the input! I agree, make extra space, if possible, on all sides of the instructor's work area so everyone can squeeze in to see. Also, posting a small camera attached to a monitor works well too.

Thank you everyone for your input it really adds more ideas to the discussion!