Before Picture

So, it's looking like I'm about to embark on a d.i.y. workspace build project. 

Here's the "before picture", knock on wood (but don't knock too vigorously - you might punch a hole in the wall).

Since my wife and I bought the first of our three downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado properties in 1990, with its two detached garages, the larger one (not pictured) has been primarily used as my workspace and, in the case of the smaller, leaning lunker of a garage pictured here, it's primarily been a storage unit. Despite its drastic need of a face-lift and its degrees-off-of-plumb walls and door, its roof has never leaked, and it serves quite adequately, not to mention conveniently and cheaply (free, in fact, unless you consider its minor contribution to the cost of the property and hence its proportion of the mortgage payment) to store my 2d painting panels, perhaps a sculpture or two, as well as eight or ten large bins of less-critical tools and supplies which would otherwise severely cramp my workspace, and various other items we're storing.

My main workspace, though roughly twice as large and in much better condition than the one car garage pictured, is less than ideal. Henceforth I'll refer to it as my studio, as I have since resigning from the art department of a small liberal arts college in 2016 to be a full time artist (and relinquishing the space I used there as my primary, though shared, shop/studio). 

First of all, let's talk square footage. Now I'm well aware that when I say I'm cramped with only 400 sf of space to work in, many big city dwelling creatives without dedicated workspaces scoff. Perhaps that's you, sitting there in your third floor studio apartment in Brooklyn or San Francisco. Perhaps you'd happily donate a kidney for such space. 

If that's you, all I can say is I've lived with the current studio situation for nearly three decades and feel like I've paid my dues in that department. Gratefully, for the most part. 

These days, when people ask me what I do, I usually reply that I'm an artist. If they press for more information, I'll often reply that I'm primarily a sculptor, and sculpture implies dimensionality. It (typically) has length and width and height. It (typically) consists of materials that, (typically) being 3D as well, take up L x W x H to store, not to mention, if we're talking materials like wood and steel - my materials of choice - machines and tools to convert them from their initial into their eventual form, each of which also require a given amount of L x W x H. Hence, for quite some time I've had to employ the self imposed rule: if something new enters the studio on a permanent basis, of necessity something the same size or larger needs to exit. 

It can be the equivalent of our appellation for our modest-sized kitchen: "one butt", especially during holidays when people tend to congregate in the best smelling room in the house. At a certain point my wife will ask everyone who isn't contributing to the enterprise if they'd please move into another room.

Only thing is, the "turkey" I may be "basting" in successive washes of watered-down acrylic paint in my studio is often large enough to feed our 20 or 30 holiday guests from Thanksgiving through New Years. Not that they're invited to stay that long. Nor would they find the food edible.

Point is, comparative to the scale of the work that's being produced, and even more to the point, the scale I'd like to work at, my studio's simply too small. 

Even the times when no sculpture is dominating the space, the most basic tasks require me to move two or three or ten things - most everything is on wheels by necessity - so that I have enough room to, for instance, maneuver the table saw, with its 48" side extension, from the periphery to the center of the room, turn it diagonal to the walls, set up the portable infeed/outfeed rollers, and have just enough space to rip a 4' x 8' panel without its encountering the wall on either end of the cut. Then reverse the process. Takes time. Time's money. 

Besides the primary lack of space issue, I could rattle off a list of other minor gripes, but I'll spare you. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

As to why I've begun this blog:

I know a few people who've tackled similar projects, both for workspace and/or ADU (additional dwelling unit), or house addition purposes, and have survived. They've been sources of inspiration.

Also, once I began to think more seriously about the possibility of saving money by making this a d.i.y. project, I started watching YouTube videos put out by a number of people who've not only built their own garages, workshops, or studios, but recorded the process for the express purpose of showing others how to do it. Again, inspirational. 

And so, in a kind of "pay it forward" way, I truly hope this blog will inspire even one person who, like me, perhaps hasn't ever undertaken a renovation or addition project of this scope, to think maybe... just maybe... I could tackle something similar. 

Alternatively, it may confirm the wisdom of not doing so. Let's hope not.

Oh, did I mention I'm hoping to build around a 1000 sf space primarily with reclaimed/reused materials? For under $30K, or app. $30/sf., not counting my labor?

Only time and further posts will tell...

In closing,

I assume some of you reading this are doing so for the same reasons I was watching a lot of YouTube videos recently: to get information from others who've undertaken projects like the one we've just begun to. If you have any questions or comments related to the build project, please make use of the comments section below, and I'll do my best to respond. And please share this with anyone you think might be interested!


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