23 January 2011

studio story

Oh it’s been a long long time since I dreamt about this. My own studio. It’s finally done! Hurray! Like many of you might have experienced doing up your house yourselves, it takes time and effort, doesn’t it? As much as we love DIY (especially my hub :), sometimes it drives you up the wall as it seems never ending. Money isn’t friendly to us either and life has priority. So the transformation of this ‘old garden shed’ had a bit of a slow start and quite a history by now. But look what we have done! We are so impressed. 

This post is very personal and long to read, but hope the story can be shared with you. Or you can just flick through the images to get a gist of the transformation. Here we go!
This old garden shed was at the front of our house that we had just moved in. The house was lovely but old so lots to do, hence this garden shed was left untouched. At that time, I was working up my career as a senior social worker. Although I loved the job, my creative dream of working with clay was hidden away somewhere behind.
At the back of the garden shed, there was an old coal bunker filled with junk, but it looked to me as a potential space. My hidden dream of having a studio had begun to grow more and more. In winter, we started to design the roof over the garage in order to replace the asbestos. This plan extended to include the shed next to the garage and to build the studio! Yes! We started to design the whole area, lots of idea came and went, but it was exciting to know things were going to become real. 
We did the roof job during the summer. Framed, boarded and felted. Spent many evenings after work until it got dark, sometimes until 10pm. I’ve leant so much DIY skills, how to use tools and how not to fall off the roof.
Next job was concreting the base floor. Also we dug 1m deep between the shed and house to connect the pipe through for the electricity and water. Oh it was hard work. 
Then Britain hit a torrential rain that caused floods in to the shed’s entrance. Going to need a sump. Another job, more digging... :(
But a good news arrived at the end of year. I got a new job as a pottery workshop instructor at the local craft centre. Back to the clay world. Hurray! This gave me a huge positive spirit for all of these hard work.
Summer year after, we started to frame the studio. Boarded, shiplapped and painted the outside wall. Built entrance doors, placed gutters that collect water so that can be used for gardening and pottery. 
It was also the year of change for me. My new job led me to the need in my self development. I decided to go back to a degree course, along with my job. I was uncertain and this was a huge leap for me to take but I am glad I did. 
It was the year of achievement. We did absolutely loads. Started off with digging sump (still digging!) in late Spring. Yorkshire stone path been laid in front of the studio entrance. In June, another leap for me. I started this blog without knowing much and posted about the studio building. In return, I received kind and encouraging comments, which helped us lots. Thank you so much all. Let’s look back quickly what we did...
Extended the roof above the entrance, no more drizzling rain. Laid insulations on walls and ceilings, then covered the surface some in plaster other in wood panels, all surface a little by a little... took us ages, but was worth doing. My hub’s wonderful handmade window frames x 4 completed. Great! Electricity connected. Water connected. Light fitted. Found old pieces of glass, which we used for the back windows. At the same time, I continued to search more treasures in the back of the garage that slowed me down the main job... but finally all windows fitted.
Meanwhile, I applied for my first ever craft fair FLARE. For that, I was working under the gazebo. By Autumn, studio building had to be postponed as I had to give up working under the gazebo. brrrr....
Back to studio building. First thing we did in a new year was emptying the shed again. Finished off the edge of floor, sealed and painted. Took ages to dry in the cold weather. Walls and ceiling painted. Sink fitted. Made a settling tank. Drain sorted. Extra shelves and a bench table fitted. Right, it’s the time to put things back in, including my old table and wheel. 

Then finally here we are. Slowly but surely we have built the studio by ourselves. I have never done this much ‘labour intensive’ DIY and my husband has been SUPERSTAR for everything. It did not happen without him. I am so grateful. (Now his turn to chase his dream of music room, which is starting to form slowly :) So what’s next? I will be creating again for the new semester and forth coming events. Now I am waiting for a kiln to be delivered. Soooo exciting!

Thank you so much for keeping up with my story. I will continue to post my stuff in this site as much as possible to share our hope, dream and happiness. xm


  1. Anonymous23/1/11 17:49

    Looks great Makiko!! Congrats. and Whew!! :-)
    -Nicole (fellow flyer!!)

  2. You have both worked so hard - well done on getting there. Hope it proves to be an inspirational workspace for you!

  3. I am so excited for you! What a great space, even better because you both worked so hard on it! Enjoy!

  4. This is such an accomplishment and a dream I would like to achieve someday. I can relate to this post completely, especially the part about 'doing up your house yourselves, it takes time and effort'. I think your work is wonderful and looking forward to seeing your future creations Xxxx

  5. How wonderful-I read every word and felt like I was on the adventure with you.
    Congratulations, you and your hubby did an amazing job. It's beautiful!

  6. Wow what a project! But it looks great, and I'm sure it's wonderful to have your own space. :)Thank you for sharing!

  7. Congratulations, you should both be very proud!! xx

  8. wow what a lot of hard work! SO excited for you, Maki. Great things will come of it. Looking forward to seeing what you create in it. lots of love xMoyra

  9. Your studio looks amazing, well done both of you! :) I can just imagine how inspired you're going to feel in that studio, you must feel so happy and proud of all the hard work you've both put in :)

  10. Hi Maki, this is so funny. I just recently finished my studio as well and it also started as a garden shed! You can see the before, during and after pics here: http://nomadicnotebook-patty.blogspot.com/2010/12/yes-its-done.html
    I am just finally starting to get out there and have some fun. It is sooo wonderful to have a personal space where you can set it up how you want and do work that you love. So happy for you!!!

  11. well done!! for completing your castle! (is this japanese expression??)
    that would be my dream!!

  12. Dear Maki,

    Congratulations on completing this mammoth task...and for following your dream...Wishing many hours of inspired creating in your wonderful "hand made" studio. xxx

  13. Woo hoo! Well done. Having done the same a couple of years ago I know it will make a huge difference for you. Its a great step. What a year to come! x

  14. Anonymous24/1/11 22:22

    stunning isn't it?

  15. Maki, this is awesome!! It looks gorgeous and such a cozy place!! Congratz and well done!! Have a lovely merry happy week and love to you!!

  16. Wow! what a super sweet creative retreat ... at home!

  17. I am soo happy for you. You are doing your dream!! I believe you will have wonderful times in your studio. Wish you the best:)

  18. Anonymous26/1/11 22:11

    Wow! Looks truly amazing and well worth all the effort and hardwork. I am so thrilled for you and wish you many wondrous and blissful times creating here.
    Hugs xxx

  19. Anonymous27/1/11 15:01

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I have had 2 studios and due to moves had to leave them and I am now back to square one. I love love love your story - what a pay off!!! Best wishes for many creative days in your beautiful space - congrats!

  20. Wow, what a great work! Your studio looks great. Enjoy working in it.

  21. Looks great Maki! What a project! Enjoy!

  22. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone from me and hub :)

  23. Hi, Maki. It's a really nice studio !!
    Congratulations !!!!

  24. Yumiko-san. Arigato-ne! xm