Thursday, May 24, 2012

Virtual Studio Tour - Laurie Weiss

Soon after I moved into my house, 17 years ago, I converted one of the bays of my oversized garage to a studio.  The previous owner restored old cars and had the original garage hauled down into the woods where it now serves as storage. 

1.        What sort of artwork do you do?  What are you currently working on?
I am a book artist.  I make journals, both custom and some standard, including travel journals, wedding albums, guest books, baby books, etc.  I also repair cookbooks and bibles, and bind family histories. 
This week I’m working on part of a collaborative edition of Dark River of Stars, a limited edition collection of Valentine’s Day poems by Oregon’s poet laureate, Paulann Petersen.  The edition is for 50, but I don’t make them all at once; just batches of 7-10 as they sell.  You can see more at
2.       How does your studio need to function?  Give a brief description of your working space.
I had one of the garage bays cut off from the rest and put in a wall of cabinets (higher than normal for a tall person standing).  I converted the old fluorescent lights into track lighting so I could put pendant lights over my work spaces. 
I keep one of my craft tables open in the middle of the room as an extra work space.  It helps me designate work areas: the back end of the built-in cabinets for gluing and sewing, the desk for piece work, and the craft table for cutting/tearing down parent sheets of paper to smaller sizes or for paste paper and stenciling.
3.       What do you love about your studio?
Because I need to keep text paper clean for books, I tend to keep my studio pretty clean and organized, with stuff for only one or two projects out at a time.  I love all the storage in my studio, for paper, leather, embellishments, etc., so I can keep the surfaces relatively clear.

  My newest purchase is an antique letterpress cabinet that has both drawers with cubbies for embellishments and flat files for my smaller (<20”x30”) papers.
Also, the light from the large sliding glass door and the skylight is great, even on gray days.
The space has electric heat, but I find I mostly use the wood stove in the winter.  It’s great for getting the humidity out (helps the glue dry) and keeping the room cozy.

Finally, I love the view out into my front woods.  The setting is very relaxing.  (That’s Oz and Buddy minding the driveway.)
4.       What would you like to change about your studio?
Not much.  I’ve modified it over the years, including the drying rack over the sink and the rack by the door for my book cloths.  I think I need to add a mini-fridge for snacks, since I’m often in there for hours once I get started on a project. 
5.       What would your dream studio look like?
This is pretty much it.  I sometimes wish it were about 4’ wider – I’d like to put in a standing Kuttrimmer to cut binders boards, but there’s just no space. 
6.       Do you have any organizational tips?
My dad always said “A place for everything and everything in its place.”  I try to follow that since it means I know exactly where what I’m looking for is.  I rarely get frustrated trying to find a particular item or tool (bookbinding uses a lot of tools).  Of course, for that to work, you have to have your storage organized and enough of it for everything.  When I’m working on a project, I haul out everything I need onto the craft table, but it goes back when I’m done so it’s right where it should be next time I need it.
You also need to keep the tools you use the most right at hand.  I keep a jar on my desk with most of what I use right there, and built a small shelf into the wall for those items I use most at that work station. 
Finally, adding the drying rack over the sink really helped to keep my work surfaces clean (and dry!).
My main suggestion is to look at how you use your space.  Walk through it and see what doesn't work first and make sure it's laid out best for the work you do. 

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