Setting Up Shop: First, Make Room


Goodbye 1970 something or another! Well, almost. 

The new studio is located in a small addition to Gray Gardens that was built sometime in the 1970s. At least I assume it was the 1970s given the windows, fixtures, and fake wood paneling. Unfortunately, the paneling stays for now. No bother. With a new floor, trim, and a few fresh coats of paint things are starting to shape up. And besides, who cares, I have windows! No basement, no cubicle maze Menarts building. I have a private studio with natural light for the first time in 6 years. No complaints from me. Ok, ok, maybe a few small ones here and there. Nonetheless, I am super excited to transform this roughly 12' x 17' room into an awesome personal print shop.

I love the challenge of building, organizing, and refining printmaking studios. Sure, it can be frustrating at times (budget, anyone?). Still, for me, designing a shop is an incredibly fun challenge, and the prize is a beautiful and functional playground. What more can you ask for?

I already have a lot of plans for this space, but I am always on the look out for new ideas. So what do you say, do you feel like sharing? I do.

I will document my shop set up here on this blog. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and contribute your ideas for building a great print shop. If you have photographs of clever space and equipment solutions, or a lengthier tutorial you would like to share, send me an email and maybe I will add it as a guest post. Let's have a conversation and see what we can build together. Remember to subscribe to the blog , you don't want to miss any potentially brilliant ideas.

To start, here are a few photos to show you what we have accomplished so far in the new space.


Faux wood paneling, shag carpet, boob light, and what do you call that color on the wall? I've been going with pastel mustard, but that doesn't seem quite right. It wasn't so bad when the entire interior of Gray Gardens was painted this color, but as soon as I changed the paint in one room it was clear the pastel mustard, like this carpet, had to go. Now I am slowly eliminating it room by room.


Removing the carpet revealed a 3" - 6" gap between one of the walls and the floor. Ok, actually, we already knew it was there, but it sounds so much more dramatic to say we discovered it. Seriously, that gap was so big I was worried the cat could use it as an escape route. After the demolition, we did discover the gap was the result of what we politely call "creative carpentry" (i.e., What in the hell were they thinking?). 


Don't forget, this is a studio | printshop. It needed a new floor, but it had to be something that could take a lot of abuse, and most importantly, it had to be cheap. Our solution was OSB and lots of polyurethane. We replaced the "creative carpentry" section closing up that gap, and then laid an additional layer of OSB over the entire room. Considering the weight of the press and flat files, we wanted to make sure this floor was the most solid and level in all of Gray Gardens.

Personally, I love it. The OSB was $7 a sheet. Thats right, $7 for a 4' x 8' sheet. Polyurethane seemed way more expensive at $50 a gallon. Still, with 10 sheets of OSB and 2 gallons of poly, I got a new studio floor for under $200. I was able to put 4 coats of poly on the floor, but given a little extra time and money I would have used a third gallon. I'm not worried about it functionally, but I know that third gallon would have really made it shine.


When we first moved to Gray Gardens, the studio became something of a dumping ground for studio and non-studio objects alike. For a month or two, I worked from this little space I carved out while I dealt with more pressing issues around the house. (To be fair, this does look a little reminiscent of my grad studio by the time I left.)

Slowly, I've been relocating things to their proper places, and when it was time to paint, I simply moved everything else into the middle of the room.

RESTORE treasure, I can't wait replace the brass boob light with this track lighting I found. 

RESTORE treasure, I can't wait replace the brass boob light with this track lighting I found. 

And finally, fresh paint! The walls are still faux paneling, but the ultra white paint continued from the ceiling to the walls and trim blurs the edges and makes the room feel much less choppy. 


My next steps include lots of organizing and custom furniture building. It is going to be a tight space with a tight budget, but I am confident I can build a great shop working within both of those constraints.