I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it...Picasso

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Big Renovation - In The Beginning

The commitment to go through every single piece and thing in my wet studio (as opposed to where I make jewelry and anything else that does not require water which I call the dry studio) was a major one and something I was not going to do unless I was comfortable with the idea of growing with my business.  Dark, sometimes dank and completely unattractive the space I had cobbled together was one that I could work in that got the job done.  Ugly as it was, once I settled in and got lost in the work, I didn't really notice that it was a dusty as the lonely trail down there and a little like sitting in the rooms that hide under the double doors in the sidewalks of NYC.

A little history...  This work space started as a little area for me to pursue a hobby that I had taken up when my son started school, to occupy a little free time with something artistic and creative.  Having come from a life in the performing arts, shutting off that part of myself all at once when my son was born was a shock to the system.  I needed to get some of myself back.  Ironically, my first workbench was the Ikea changing table we had purchased on Long Island for our Queens apartment where we lived when Dakota was born.  When we moved on from Brooklyn to Rockland County, I tossed all the baby furniture - except that changing table.  It looked to me like it could be re-purposed in a creative way.  I am a prophet.

At the onset of this project, we were cursed by an oppressive heat wave with days in the high 90s and up to 100 degrees on one of our work days.  The very first thing we did before beginning any work was run to Home Depot for a small window air conditioner that we installed in a small window in the dry studio.  May I say it was the best $129.00 we spent on the whole renovation?

I began the photo record of this process after I had started the clean up and move out process so understand that though it was nasty down there, it was neat (anyone who knows me knows that anywhere I am could be filthy but I am neat as a pin).  I wanted to show you the rawness of the space I was working in and how rustic my environment was while trying to create something beautiful.

Here you can see the raw concrete walls and the catch-as-catch-can clutter of supplies.  The grey cement sucked up all the light and was dreary as a hole in the ground - which actually it is as it is the foundation of my house!

The rack to the right in the photo holds all the boxes and trays of my shards, glass, tiles and the small objects  that I use in my piquet assiette work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piquet_assiette).  Many of those boxes held materials from some of the first work that I did years ago and hadn't been even considered for use in about 10 years.

To the right of the plastic cabinet in the background is my sink and to the right of that, the culmination of all my waste water pipes and sewage drain.  The large garbage can on the left is my slop bucket where I dump waste water from my tools and bowls when I clean the concrete and grout from them.  If you allow all that to go down the sink, after a while you will cement your pipes closed.  The table is my main and favorite work table which was a roadside pickup.  I love that it is round.

The table that the boom box is on is the mother of my work, the changing table. On top of the bookcase is a jumble of broken chairs, future armatures and other assorted, collected detritus. The clip lights have been a part of another cobbled together system that has been my lighting grid for several years now

My dear, supportive husband took a week off from work to help me with the major construction parts of the renovation and this is him, up on the ladder, stuffing some of the insulation that was falling down on my head back into place.  There are those beeeuuutiful concrete walls again.

The unloading process was arduous and a lot more stuff was put in the trash because when you have to pick it up and move it, you really begin to question its value.  On my first pass, I think I tossed about 8 or 9 full contractor bags of stuff.  In the moving process I may have doubled that.

My husband in the emptied out room preparing the walls and floor for sealing.  The big hole you see is a crawl space we use for storage but frankly, at night there are any number of vampire/zombie type creatures that could emerge from that darkness.  Please notice the insulation once again and the piece of tape dangling there, the remains of an effort to keep it up where it belongs.

After a long 10 hour day one last look back at the mess that will be there for us tomorrow to deal with.  Covered in dust and sweaty from hard work in one of the multiple, oppressive heat waves that  have set upon us this summer we went upstairs for a shower and a glass of Big Ass Cab.


  1. I feel virtuous just reading this, Neely! Can't wait to see what happens to the space!

  2. Yikes, that's a lot of work! Can't wait to see what it turns into Neely.

  3. Wow. This might be the inspiration I need to get my space (with NO construction) in order. Can't wait to see more!