studio setup

Melissa complains about having to work hard. And lift heavy things. All in the name of jewellery

Yep, I’m still at it. Don’t be fooled people, setting up a studio is bloody hard work. It combines the physical and mental drain of moving house, with the decision challenging complexity of buying a mobile phone – before the days of the iphone (and if you found that relatively easy, try thinking of having to buy one for your mum, or better yet, your grandma) and the stamina necessary to run a marathon. Or at least a half marathon.

Monday I bought torches from AJS and Koodak. I could have got a cheaper gas only number from Koodak, but I liked the quality of the AJS setup. From Koodak I got a good little microtorch – based on the design of the famous Smith Little Torch but slightly cheaper. If you’re after the brand, Tool World downstairs (all this went on in the Century Building in the city) had Smith’s for pretty cheap, but I like shopping at Koodak, and got a good deal.

Tuesday I bought gasses. BOC South Melbourne got me fitted out with regulators for oxygen and LNG, as well as a rental bottle of oxygen and a 9kg swap and go bottle of LNG. Apparently jewellers don’t buy 9kg bottles, they like to get 4kg ones instead. Having hefted our BBQ gas bottle all the way to Richmond for a refill recently (we got the BBQ there, so we get a free fifth refill, and meanwhile ms neck injury 2005 has to escort the empties) I figured more pain but less often would suit me fine.

Mr BOC had a great sense of humour, and couldn’t believe that little me would want a whole 9kg bottle of gas as well as all the rest of his expensive equipment, so I think he went easy on me and discounted the oxygen regulator. In all I think I got a pretty good deal, which was confirmed by Vito back at the Monash studio yesterday who showed me an alternative price from a supplier who could provide the torches and regulators as a package. Had I but known… Anyway, all I know is that the package mob are in Preston if you ever want to seek them out.

Now I’m arranging delivery of the most complex item, the blasted sand-blaster. I went with Pan Abrasives as they had their PB250ES model on ‘sale’. Since signing up for that one I’ve been investigating air compressors, finally settling on the Peerless P14. It’s made in Bendigo, and is on a par price wise with the others (Ublast again had a Royce contender, and there was Machinery House’s Super 12) but it’s a slight bit better in terms of L/min free air delivery. Yeah, I know a lot more about compressed air than I ever thought I’d need to. The Peerless unit will likely be light on for what I need, but it’s the biggest you can get to run on 10Amp power.

I am perilously close to being able to solder something, I bought plastic containers for storing pickle, but forgot the chemical itself, as well as bricks/a mat to protect the workbench. (I had one, but it got busted in a move.) So I’ll be schlepping back into the city sometime to arrange the last bits. Meanwhile, I’ve been checking out how to actually set up the torches, and have come across a good (on the face of it), safety aware, description. Of course, I never remember to check Oppi Untracht’s books, so I have just found some more good advice in Jewelry Concepts and Technology, P409 + 410. (From here on in to be known as Oppi’s Bible).

Yessir, I’m pooped. And in this last week I’ve sometimes found myself questioning if it’s all worth it. But I’ve come so far, and I’m so close to being able to get to work…

Stu-stu-studio

Melissa’s art practice is no longer homeless. Hooray!

(Don’t blame me if you’re now singing the melody to the above; you’re equally culpable.)

Call off the hounds, I have secured a studio!

No pics, yet, but it’s in St Kilda in an old house which has been converted into artist studios. It’s not the Oak St premises that I had been waiting on, but it’s closer, bigger and has the added bonus that I don’t have to cart a bunch of heavy equipment up stairs. Speaking of which, I finally got my drill press this week too. I know, isn’t that a load off everyone’s mind?

still learning

Melissa is setting up a studio. She is learning how to do this, as she goes.

There are no pictures this week, as I’ve been gathering information, making drawings and planning. This gives me very little to show for a days work, but like when reading a book, sometimes all you have is what you learned. I find this infuriating, because I like to track my progress, and this means judging how successful a day has been by the volume of my output, be it drawn, made or written.

I have organised a fair amount this week. I have a space (almost) and a plan of the gallery for an upcoming show, which I drew to scale (I’m not in favour of not working to scale, nor plans made in Word) in order to work on the exhibition design. I’ve found a place to have a work bench made, in Mentone. I’ve spent time on forums looking for ideas and recommendations (it’s been all online since Monday, when going out into the world netted several outlets closed for holidays) and spent an age looking at my options for flexi drives, which left me completely confused. (Luckily, I remembered a friend who could help steer me through the mire.)

Along this convoluted journey, (that’s another thing that bugs me, getting side-tracked from my main goal for the day, despite the diversions being ultimately useful! Maybe…) I learned about the benefits of  citric acid pickle, from looking at other people’s studios. Actually, that brings me to another point.

I learn best by example; by seeing other people in action. Ben’s descriptions of his studio, coupled with the photos, I found to be really instructive. With luck, following other sidetracks will turn out to be equally informative.