Expanding the studio

My family just returned from a visit to my husband’s parents in Ohio. We went out there to pick up an old wood lathe from my father-in-law. I fear that now that he has fully retired from carpentry, we’ll be moving his shop toys to Charlotte one long truck ride at a time!

The trouble with this is that we really don’t have anywhere to put large woodworking equipment. We weren’t even sure where the wood lathe would go when we returned. Having accumulated more than a decade’s worth of kid-raising debris, it’s been years since we could park our cars in the garage, nevermind use it for something as practical as a wood shop.

But the more we talked (and nine hours trying not to think about just how much gas a Chevy Silverado uses is a long time to talk), the more we decided it was time to convert the garage to a his-and-hers workshop. When I started making ceramics, I really only ever intended to glaze them. I wasn’t going to cast them, and I sure wasn’t going to make any molds. It wouldn’t take much space! Of course, making ceramics seems a bit like buying them; you find yourself in deeper, and by then it’s too late to turn back! So as my involvement has grown, the studio has seemed more cramped by the day.

What I most wanted to do was move the noisier and messier aspects away from my regular work space. The messy part is easy, since all I really need is another plexiglass-covered workbench where I can pour rubber and plaster. The noisy part is a little harder, because what I need is a permanent spray booth that vents to the outside. Small hobby booths – the kind that can be removed from a desk when it’s needed for detailing – vent down into filters below the work. That means there isn’t a lot of distance between the work area and the fan, so the noise is harder to control.

I could purchase or build a stationary booth, but there really wasn’t anywhere to place it within the studio room. And even if I did have a spot, installing one would required cutting a hole to the outside of the house. I could justify installing a utility sink in the studio, which – located next to the kitchen – should have been a dining room. If we ever needed to sell the house, the sink and counter could be converted into a wet bar without much trouble. It’s hard to imagine how I could turn a gaping hole, suitable for running ductwork, into an added feature in a dining room!

But a spray booth would easily fit in our garage-turned-workshop. So I offered to dig through the garage (braving snakes, as it turned out!), and pitch or donate everything not absolutely necessary (really, how many non-functioning, but surely-repairable, waffle makers does a family of four need?). I would do all that, if he would install a bench and a booth for me when I was done.

That part has been kind of fun, and a neat break between etching sessions. I’ve even found some treasures, like these old back issues of “minis!”, a newsletter I published back in the early 1990s.

My only mistake was discussing the specs for the different spray booths with my husband. I should have known that he would become convinced that none of the commercially available booths would really fix my noise problem quite as well as something specifically designed to reduce noise. I guess the urge to engineer things isn’t much different from the urge to color things!

I’m just wondering if he’d find some design reason to give the booth ornate, turned wooden legs. We do have a cool old lathe!

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4 Responses to Expanding the studio

  1. Mel Miller July 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    “minis!” magazine, oh my! I loved that publication so much.

    The same thing happened with my automatic hay feeder for Chinook. Surely we could build a better one than existing models! That sucker is sturdy.

  2. Carol H. July 28, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    Lesli, where did you find that blueprint for the spray booth? Was there more information that went with it?

    I never heard of “minis” magazine!

  3. Ramie July 29, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    I associate ‘spraybooth’ with work (ours is, um, perhaps 10’wide by 16’deep and 10′ tall), and so I sat here puzzled but amused, picturing you in that enormous space with a tiny ceramic horse. 😀

    The fans *are* noisy. They do make very quiet, rather large (120-200mm) fans to cool computer cases, but even the most powerful of them likely wouldn’t even touch the kind of cfm you need to vent a spraybooth.

  4. Lesli Kathman July 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    Mel, I’m glad you enjoyed the magazine. At it’s peak, I think we had something like 500 subscribers.

    And Carol, I’ll see if I can find where my husband got that blueprint. It was from an article that had a lot of good information, although (of course) he’s designing the thing completely different. :)

    I’ll see if I can’t take pictures, and post about the construction of the booth while he works on it. It’s probably something that a lot of folks would find useful.

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