The Biggest Project of My Life (Thus Far)

Studio, sweet studio.

This will likely be the first of many posts about our ongoing endeavor to transform our backyard out-building/garage into a screenprinting studio, so I’ll first provide a little bit of background. As I mentioned previously, I spent many nights in high school and junior high hand-hand painting t-shirts and hoodies of various bands that I enjoyed (read: was obsessed with). In college I took a screenprinting class at the Craft Center and immediately became hooked on the medium. After taking the class, I volunteered at the Craft Center, taught summer camp there, and eventually landed a job as the Screenprinting and Textiles Student Manager. All the while, I had access to the screenprinting lab and equipment.

Eventually, I left school and the Craft Center (another tale for another day), and since haven’t done much printing. Many people successfully set up home screenprinting operations in their bathrooms, which I think is awesome, but I’m the first to admit that having access to a studio totally spoiled me. At its core, screenprinting is a versatile process – some DIY printers make their own screens with embroidery hoops and glue on mesh while giant commercial printers put logos on thousands of shirts, mugs, pens etc. using an industrialized process based on the same principals. What I want for our home studio falls in between those two extremes.

The studio before being painted, after the wooden shelves were removed.

The studio before being painted, but after the wooden shelves were removed.

Bug bought the house that we both call home in the summer of 2007. He didn’t undergo much of a house hunt, instead our friend Kay informed him that there was a house for sale in her neighborhood and we went to an open house. A week after we first stepped through the door, he was signing papers. There were many reasons we fell in love with the place – the neighborhood, the dark wood floors, the newish kitchen appliances and bar, but I saw the most potential in the garage. The houses in our neighborhood were all built in 1947 – there was a wood shortage in Central Texas after the war, so the homes, even the interior walls, are built out of cinderblock and concrete. Most of the homes have detached one car garages and at some point, a previous owner installed power and water in what would later become our garage.

When we moved in, the garage was more or less a storage space; it’s located behind our house, down our side yard, and can no longer be driven to.  The walls were unfinished, partially painted cinderblocks, there were some thrown together wooden shelves along one wall, and an old, strangely plumbed sink in the corner, and hook-ups for a washer and dryer.  For a year or so, we used the space for storage and laundry, but its promise as a studio always lurked at the back of my mind.  Last year, I decided (for a number of reasons, to be discussed at length later) not to return to my full time job and devote more time to projects (of many sorts).

The studio as of 4/29/10 - walls painted gray, turquoise shelves not yet hung, 4 color press front and center!

Starting in earnest at the beginning of this year, I began amassing supplies, equipment, and materials to turn the garage into a useable studio.  Some of the biggest tasks so far have been removing the wooden shelves (they were screwed together and bolted into the walls), demolishing the built-in sink and stand, purchasing and moving a stacking washer and dryer, painting (the unfinished cinderblock sucked up paint like a sponge), installing a window unit air conditioner, and generally moving lots of heavy stuff around.  Two of the biggest projects, plumbing and putting all of the electrical wire into conduit, are looming.  Although we’ve got a lot of work to do, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the space is slowly transforming into what I envisioned it could be when we first saw the house.

I’ll take more detailed pictures soon, and will discuss specifics about certain parts of the project.  Right now I’m just excited to turn the space into a creative sanctuary that will harbor all the tools and equipment for screenprinting.  Truly the headquarters of ATX DIY, the studio will also be home to numerous power tools, general workspace, and stuff for various other projects.  I really want to share the studio with friends and fellow DIYers – I envision teaching workshops to would-be printers, providing open studio times, working on joint projects, and much more.  I want it to be as much a fun place to hang out as an effective art studio.  We shall see.

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Comments ( 2 )

Nice studio. What else is going into it? I really like the bird painting. You need to repost the close up of it.

Mom added these words on Apr 29 10 at 5:44 pm

We’ll have a four color press and a one color press for screenprinting. We’re in the process of installing a utility sink and a washout booth (also for screenprinting). Some general tools/saws live back there too. There’s a microwave that I plan on using for soap-making and such. We’ll be getting a workbench for general projects – soldering, stained glass, etc. I’ll repost that pic soon, in the meantime, it’s on my Facebook.

Emily added these words on Apr 29 10 at 10:50 pm

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