I am so incredibly thrilled to bring you the first in what I hope will be a fantastic series here at (Mud)Bucket. Today, figurative artist Lucy Bailey is welcoming us into her home studio to take a sneak peek at how a fellow clay artist works. (I am completely jealous of her incredible yard and view.) I am so thankful for her enthusiasm with this new project and hope her story inspires you to create a space of your own or deepens your appreciation of the one you already have.
So with out further ado...
Location: Outside of Columbia, SC
Studio size: 408 sq ft
Years worked in: 3
Number of studio-mates: One Chrysler Pacifica and one John Deere Gator
I can walk directly from the garage/studio into the kitchen and out to the front porch for lunch with a view.
Have you had studios before this one? No
How close is this space to your home? It’s space in my attached garage. Take a left at the kitchen and there it is. The kiln shed is about 75 feet from the garage.
How much time do you spend here? About 18 hours a week; about 40 during the summer when I have six weeks off from work.
My husband assembled a Rockler® table for my birthday and it really stands up to pounding out slabs of clay. Because it has casters, I can also roll it right out the garage door and work outside when I want. Metal trash cans altered for smoke firing can be set up just outside the garage on the driveway where they are safe to burn all night.
What is your favorite aspect of this space? My full-time paying job is that of a school psychologist. In order to have time with clay, my workspace has to be convenient to allow the efficient use of small chunks of time. I’m sure I wouldn’t be working in ceramics if I had to drive to a studio space; it just wouldn’t work in my life. I love the fact that I can leave a work in progress, slip into the house, visit with my husband, check my email, maybe work in the yard for a while, and then go back to the clay. So, the greatest thing about the space is that it is literally an integral part of my house and home life.
Any challenges you’ve come up against? The fact that my garage doesn’t have air conditioning is a challenge. In the winter it takes more willpower than I have on some days to go out there when the outside temperature is in the twenties, and in August and September I’m swimming in sweat within minutes. But the worse thing isn’t my personal comfort, it’s the effect it has on my work pace. In the winter it can take forever for clay to firm up enough for the next step and in the summer it’s all I can do to get a piece finished before it’s too dry to work with.
A tall shelf behind my office door houses work in various stages of completion as well as glazes and baskets of underglazes, paints, and supplies.
When we first spoke you mentioned that you've had to work really hard to find enough space for your work. How have you managed this? I use every nook and cranny within the house. Boxes of clay are stashed behind my desk and under my bed. Work drying slowly is moved from the garage to a shelf in the laundry room, and finally to shelves behind the door to my office, following the cool-to-warm flow of the house. I often use the kitchen counter for applying copper carbonate, cold finishes, and glaze. I keep materials for these tasks in baskets so the process is portable. It helps to have a very supportive husband when there’s clay paraphernalia everywhere!
What would a fantasy day in the studio look like to you? I would get my exercising out of the way in the morning, then work uninterrupted with three or four pieces going at a time so I can alternate between them. I’d have plenty of time for problem-solving and trying out new ideas while also working on my current series. I would take a break for lunch on the porch. Sometime in the afternoon I’d take a break to check my favorite ceramic blogs, of course!
A large shelving unit in the studio holds materials, supplies, finished works, and test tiles. Because my space is limited, I try to keep things organized and I clean the studio weekly.
What’s a real day like? During the week I come home from work, exercise, have dinner and then squeeze in an hour or so of clay before bed. A typical weekend day means juggling clay with laundry and other menial chores and errands.
If you could have one wish granted for your studio, what would it be? If you’re granting magic wishes, time is what I need, but I’d take air conditioning! Someday we may get a shed dedicated to yard equipment so more of the garage space could be used for studio purposes.
I have three work tables of varying heights, each with shelves underneath. Generally, I start pieces on the far table, rolling out slabs and building the basic forms. The middle table is best for long stretches of sitting and working. Leather-hard pieces needing detail work go on the top of the tall table.
Do you make a point of decorating your studio in anyway? No
Do you have a favorite snack while you’re working here? Diet A&W Root Beer and Quaker nacho flavored rice cakes.
What kind of music do you listen to while you work? I usually like the quiet, but sometimes I listen to a country music station.
The kiln shed houses my Skutt 1027KM and has some extra storage space.
Do you participate in any open studios events? No.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone creating her or his first studio space? Don’t let the fact that you lack an ideal space stop you. Get creative, make choices, and carve out a niche for yourself and just do it. I decided that keeping my truck outside instead of in the garage was an easy trade-off for setting up a work space.
A small back porch with a nice view is just at the corner of the garage. Sanding work, which I do infrequently, is done here - wearing a respirator, of course!
Do you have a blog or website we can follow you at? www.LucyBaileyClay.com
Thank you again, so much, Lucy... this was such a wonderful treat!
If you are interested in sharing a studio tour with (Mud)Bucket readers, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.