Saturday, 23 November 2013

My New ARTHaven–Tidying Up and Getting Organised at Last

My cousin came to visit us today. She is a keen crafter, and I was looking forward to showing her around our new house and showing her the renovations, but most of all, taking her into my new ARTHaven and watching her turn a bright shade of green with envy! In advance of today, I knew I had to tidy up and try and get somewhat organised in there, so that she would get a proper impression of it as a working space, and not merely a dumping ground. Although there is still a lot of organising and sorting to do, it is all definitely taking shape now.

The office section probably needs more organising than the ARTHaven proper, but at least it is workable. After my latest tidying, this is how it looks now.

01 Office - Tidier!

On the right, you can see the magnificent bronze casting of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, created as an apprentice piece in my grandfather’s foundry works in the post-WWII years. It is one of my most treasured possessions and I have not been able to display it until now.

When we were clearing my parents’ house prior to selling it, I saved a lot of Dad’s things, many of which are going to feature in the album I am making about his life. I have collected together some of the objects that he made, and things that were precious to him, or which were of particular interest to him, and I have created a little gallery of “Dad’s Treasures” on top of one of my book cases. Some of these objects look very strange!

02 Dad's Treasures

There is a story behind each one, which I cannot go into here because it would make this post much too long! One day I may detail some of the items if anyone is interested. Suffice it to say that every one of these items has become precious to me, and reminds me of a different facet of Dad’s character, life and interests.

Moving through into the ARTHaven proper, here is how the main papercrafting area looks now, with Sheba (my Cougar cutting machine) on the left, and the display area to the right of the picture..

03 Gen View

I have now set up my video camera, and the two clip-on lamps which I had in my old ARTHaven – the lighting in the new room is extremely good, with LED spots all around, but I thought I would add these two PureLite lamps to help with filming and photography. Not having tried this setup in real life yet, I am not sure if it will be OK, or whether it will need some tweaking.

Here are some detail shots.

04 Video and Lighting Setup

05 Camera Detail

The video clamp with the flexible gooseneck came from Maplins (very cheap!) and I bought two right-angle brackets with camera fixing screws from the USA on Ebay. I have used one of the bases of the old video rig to clamp this arrangement to, to bring it slightly further out over the work area, and have had to add a bit of wood packing to correct the angle of the clamp. We will have to see how it works! The camera is a new one, which I chose on the recommendation of Lindsay the Frugal Crafter – she has this camera and gets excellent results from it. All I have done with mine so far is try it out, and I haven’t done any serious filming with it yet – it was bought for the new room, as a replacement for the old camera which was a nightmare to use because it kept making my computer crash. The new camera has an SD card instead of tapes, which is an improvement, and it will film in HD.

Moving on around the room, I have now set up my display area around the old fireplace. After fixing up the shabby chic shelf unit that I got on Ebay, I began to have second thoughts about 3 shelves instead of 2, because they are so close together that you can’t really use them for many items to display, but the unit is so attractive that I couldn’t bear to replace it! Instead, I have put some antique china pieces on the top shelf, some jars of paper flowers that I’ve made on the second shelf, and on the bottom shelf are some boxes and other small items. On the drawer handles I have hung various items received from online friends, and there are more on the mantelpiece below – those of you who have sent me things may recognise some of them if you look closely!

06 Display Area

Mixed in among these treasured gifts are some items I have made myself, including the binder on the right which I created for a craft show I took part in several months ago, detailing some of my past work. You can also see my small leather art journal with the “Tyger Tyger” page displayed, and pages from my Fine Art album (both works in progress).

This zone will be in a state of flux, with new work being added as time goes on, and the display changed. I have too many ATCs to display them all at once, so these are something which will get changed periodically. I am so thrilled to have an area where I can put out works where I can see and enjoy them.

Further on around the room are the sewing, textile and drawing zones. Yesterday I spent a long time starting to sort the cardboard boxes containing all my fabrics, embroidery materials and equipment, sewing supplies, crochet, etc. etc. There is still a lot to do. Some of this is now stored in the storage zone, and I am hoping to get some more Really Useful Boxes to house a lot of it – these look much nicer than cardboard boxes, and being transparent, you can readily identify the contents, and they are more durable.

07 Textile and Drawing Zones

On the work surface below the wall unit you can see a stack of three small vintage suitcases. These came from my parents’ house and I intend to store supplies in them – embroidery threads etc. They are all in need of repair, but I love the shabby vintage look of them.

08 Vintage Cases, Boxes and Fancy Yarns

To the left of them I have put my two German wooden buckets – I was originally going to display these in my new bathroom but found that I had more than enough stuff for in there, and thought I could use them as decorative containers in my ARTHaven. Here I have used them to contain some fancy yarns which are far too beautiful to keep hidden away in a box! To the left are two vintage boxes from Mum. The large one now contains all my decorative braids, and the one on top is a Chinese camphorwood box which at present contains some small family mementoes that Mum had collected over the years.

I decided that the whole final section of work top was probably more than enough for sewing and textile work, so I have designated the final zone as the drawing zone. Here I have put out my Zentangle album and sketchbook. On the shelf above are my pens and Inktense pencils and various other drawing bits and pieces, with the larger items like my dressmaker’s curve underneath in the floor unit. The curved metallic object just below the power point is the last remaining part of a lamp that Mum had for embroidery – it was in a seriously dilapidated state and had to be disposed of, but it had a magnifying lens (in the white bag) on a gooseneck. You can see part of my second retort stand with it, and when I find the upright for this, I will be able to mount this lens for fine work. I also have my dad’s glasses with telescopic magnifiers which he used to use for ophthalmic surgery before the hospital introduced their first operating microscope. Maybe I will be able to do my ultra fine 22+ stitches to the inch again!!

09 Drawing Zone

Finally, the storage zone, along the wall dividing the ARTHaven from the office.

10 Storage Zone

This still requires considerable re-organisation but at least it’s a bit tidier than it was! The cabinet on the left was in the original bathroom, and was moved through into here when the builders started the bathroom renovation – in the nick of time, actually, because after this, my hubby asked if he could have it for the garage, and I told him no – I’d already snaffled it up for my ARTHaven! (Considering that he grabs all the plastic Chinese takeaway boxes for his Man Cave before I get a look in, I felt justified in taking a stand over this cabinet!!) The cabinet is brilliant because the central, open part, has shelves which exactly accommodate that size of Really Useful Box – unfortunately these won’t go in the cupboards because the door occupies half an inch of cupboard space when closed, but it doesn’t matter because when they are closed you can’t see what’s n them anyway – which is probably a very good thing, given how crammed with stuff they are – bits of fabric, loads of old sheeting, rug wools, etc. etc.!

On top of the ex-bathroom cabinet, and running the whole length of the wall, is a huge deep shelf for storing large flat things like mount board, cutting mats for Sheba, etc. This is often a storage area lacking in studios simply because of lack of space, and I feel very fortunate to have such a lot of good storage for all sorts of things!

Even though there is still a lot of work to be done to get the room how I want it, it is now certainly a workable space, and having got on top of most of the rest of the house (apart from some odd bits of painting etc.), I can now start being creative again!

With this in mind, here are the art deco doorplate replacements I am working on – at present in the Heat Zone, but there is a certain fluidity between the zones, and I shall need to use this area for mixed media as well, I think.

04 Mould and Plates Made from Polyfilla One Fill

You can see the mould at top left, and the two I made from Friendly Plastic at the top. I have been experimenting with Polyfilla One Fill as a substitute (being very much cheaper) and although they are extremely light and feel fairly fragile, I think this will be a good option – they do not require any strength once in situ, and if I have any failures at the painting stage, I shan’t shed any tears over wasted materials! I shall probably melt down the Friendly Plastic ones and use the material for other projects.

The mat which they are sitting on is my new Presspahn ultra-heat proof mica mat – my original one is only A3 and not really large enough for my heat zone, so I bought this one which is approximately A2 in size. (For details of these amazing mats, please see the description in my sidebar.) You can see my melting pot just in-frame on the left. In use, this radiates quite considerable heat downwards, and was the cause of one of my (too many!) warping accidents to my self-healing cutting mats! I will also be able to do work with the soldering iron and other heat tools on this, and if I want to prevent the build-up of material and stains on it, I can always put a non-stick craft mat on top. The smaller Presspahn mat is now back under the non-stick craft mat in the Papercrafting Zone, protecting the surface underneath from my heat gun.

In the main work area, I have today resurrected the album I am making about Dad’s life – I opened up the box and showed the project to my cousin, and thought I would leave some of it out so that I can start working on it again.

01 Album Resurrected in New ARTHaven

Having the large moveable floor units will be great when working on this project, as they will provide me with a lot more surface to work on, and to spread out the materials.

When the room is properly organised, I propose to do a video tour.


  1. Looking really good Shoshi x

  2. Can't believe what a wonderful job you have done with your studio! when do the tours start?!

  3. what a great work area you have created. enjoy.

  4. So pleased it is all coming together - your art haven will be an absolute inspiration to you I am sure!! I have been working so much lately have had no time for crafting or blogging but.... as one does when you are busy, on a whim I decided to open an etsy shop (ashplant designs) last week with just 4 items in it just for a play really and I've sold 3 out of 4 items already (OK 1 person took a shine to all of them but they are still sales) Really made my week but now I want time to put more stuff in it - of course I don't really have it at the mo!! Lovely to hear from you as always, Cindy x

  5. Wow! this really is an amazing creative space - I love the mixture of modern with vintage treasures mixed in. Just watched your first vid too, really enoyed watching your creative process and how you kept on going through the ideas that didnt' quite work until the beautiful butterfly emerged!
    ps I keep an odd collection of strange-looking but precious bits and bobs too and I would love to know more about the objects you have on the bookshelf which remind you of your Dad - they look intriguing! :o)

  6. WOW Shoshi. Love all the thought you have put into making this work for you. I particularly love that you have surrounded yourself with objects that mean so much to you. Wishing you many happy hours creating. Hugs Helen x

  7. Amazing to see your ARTHaven in its infancy, Shoshi! Your cousin is probably still bright green, as am I! Beautiful display of your dad's treasures - what a lovely thing to do!


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