The Stuff of Dreams

Ask anyone who makes stuff with their hands what it is they dream of most or what is their most precious commodity when being creative. I wouldn’t like to put a statistic on it but I’ll bet there’s a huge number of them who will say “a place where I can go when I want to make: somewhere that’s just for making, where I can leave my kit out and no one will disturb it or move it”.
This is the stuff of dreams for many makers of any discipline. A lot of creatives have to contend with their space competing with the dining table, the family toys, the car, the dogs, the washing, and the gardening tools. Very few have a dedicated space where they know their equipment and projects can be left out, their sketches and scribbles left undisturbed and their thought processes allowed free reign.
While I have been one of the lucky few to have a very small room dedicated to my creative pursuits in my house a change in my circumstances meant I unexpectedly outgrew it overnight. It was one of those true “John Lennon” times in your life. You know, those times when “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.
So, while I was busy contemplating my options, another set of circumstances arose that allowed me the opportunity to have a brand new studio built in my garden. I jumped on this before the tide could change again and suddenly found myself project managing the construction of a log cabin and all that goes with it

  • site of studio in back garden
  • Sooty checks out the progress
  • Studio will go here!
  • Groundworks start

I scoured the internet for a suitable product and settled on a company called Dunster House. There was some negative feedback on their site but mainly to do with the quality of the building process as opposed to the product itself. A simple solution seemed to be to get my own guy to build it. I’m glad I did as he really went the extra mile to make sure the cabin was “overbuilt”. He put twice as many braces underneath and even though they were tantalised, he treated them with his own recipe of creosote that seemed to involve various home generated products such as chip fat. I chose not to ask for details.

  • Logs arrive!
  • And up she goes
  • A bit more

I won’t bore you with the gory details of the build (just check out the pics) but suffice to say I lost the will to live long before it was complete. I think that says more about my patience than anything else. I think my main problem was that I had a very clear idea of how it would look inside and so couldn’t wait to get in there and do it. I set up a whole suite of Pinterest boards dedicated to the look of the thing and proceeded to scour eBay and local charity shops for items to fulfil this dream. I think I drove my better half potty. The strangest thing was that I took time to look around my house and noticed various items that weren’t being used to their full potential. It was as though I had always had this studio in mind and was waiting for the universe to catch up with me. I had wardrobes, mirrors, chairs, sets of drawers, clocks, and all manner of paraphernalia to add those finishing touches.

  • Chest of drawers stolen from my bedroom
  • My new chair!
  • inner sections brace the structure of the cabin
  • Check out those floor braces!
  • Started painting the outside while the weather was good
  • bit by bit...

I’d just like to take this opportunity to send out my heartfelt gratitude to all those friends, family and students who did come over and wield a paintbrush. I love you all, you are wonderful and your reward awaits you in the next life.
As for those who mysteriously developed summer colds I won’t name names but you know who you are and your reward also awaits you in the next life.
Seriously, it was a mammoth task. The blooming thing measures 11m x 5.9m and let’s not forget all those little grooves between the logs, phew!

  • Started painting the outside while the weather was good
  • Bit by bit!
  • by little bit...
  • Took months!
  • Insulation in the walls to keep us warm in winter
  • So much wood!
  • End section
  • Long view of the interior
  • This floor would make a great dance floor, apparently!
  • Child labour is not as cheap as you'd think!
  • Site foreman and project manager!

Before I could get all this stuff inside I had to paint it. Everybody thought I was mad, especially my mum (she hates white!) I think this was more a reluctance on the part of friends and family who knew they would be roped in to help with the job.

  • Open day cakes
  • Sample wedding dress on display at the open day
  • Mary-Jayne rocks the Land Girl Look at the Open Day
  • Artworks on display at the Open Day
  • Me and one of my star pupils!

Well, I’ve been in now for a few months. There are still a few niggly jobs to do but we’re almost there. My poor builder is thinking of bringing his sleeping bag as he seems to spend more time here than at home. There have been parties, (with cakes) weekly classes, summer school, full days and a glut of private tuition.

To be able to have everything I need on hand without having to trawl cupboards all over the house, under beds and even the loft to find it is such a blessing. It really helps with the creative flow. I get an idea and whoosh - start to make it. I can also put it to one side and get on with some work (I’m lucky that my hobby is also my job!) I can welcome clients and students alike without spending hours making room for them and, best of all, it looks exactly how I want it to.

  • IKEA hack cutting table!
  • So useful
  • So much storage!

There’s virtually no furniture left in the house but who cares? I spend so little time in there anyway now and the studio is far enough away from the house that I can’t hear my husband moaning about it.