Studio Saturday: Inspire My Surroundings

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments!

As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner. Last weeks winner is Dale, Congratulations! You have won a heart tile bead bead from Lynn Davis. Send us an e-mail with your address and we will get it right out to you.

Cindy Gimbrone opens up her jewelry making studio today after a bit of a hiatus….

I’m in the process of cleaning and re-organizing my jewelry making studio/office. It’s a big chore – but the time has come. I was reading a blog the other day that said your studio should be inspiring. Since I was sitting in my jewelry studio, I took a look around…..

I don’t think the blogger was talking about my studio – white plastic is much like the British-roots cuisine my mother used to feed us – bland. So, in true DIY/recycle/reuse spirit, I tramped through 4 different second hand stores today looking for something to help me organize my studio yet inspire me. I came across the ivory female bust. Although she isn’t a container of any kind, I love her look and brought her home.

So dear readers, today’s question is – what DIY/recycle/reuse ideas do you have to help me infuse inspiration into my jewelry making studio/office decor?

Please share your ideas by leaving a comment and be entered to win a free surprise bead from me! I look forward to reading your ideas!

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24 Comment

  1. Christine Damm
    February 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I am incurable flea-marketer so I have many cabinet-type pieces in my home that most other people passed by. They are old, have some character and can be made very ‘inpirational’ with the addition of paint, collage, etc. You can even mount smaller ones on the wall after you’ve removed the legs! I personally can’t live without a bulletin board of some kind near my workbench to tack up photos, inspirations, sketches of new work… There are tons of old, interesting frames out there or even old mirrors. You can crisscross pretty ribbon across the space and just tuck things in without worrying about tacks. And I use old milkglass containers and canning jars for my tools. So you can have order AND character, and all of it cheap– with the addition of an artistic touch.

  2. Pamela
    February 21, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Do you have a window in your studio? Much of my inspiration comes from looking out the workroom window. We live in town, but we have bird feeders out and I have the different color combinations of bird feathers to create from. We built a goldfish pond right outside the window so there is always something beautiful to gaze at. Outside your window you could make a bird feeder out of recycled bottles or milk jugs, set a bench with a few pots sitting on their side, make long straight hanging piece from shiny beads and hang on a shepherd hook……..look out your window and find your inspiration!!!!

  3. Alice
    February 21, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    My ‘studio’ is my dining room table, so everything I have there must be portable. We use it about 5 or 6 times a year. Because of this, I don’t really have any cool ideas to help with organization as all my beads are stored in tackle boxes. I often dream of turning my daughter’s bedroom into a spectacular studio, but since she is still in college she comes home often and I’m not quite ready to boot her out of her room.

    I love that ivory bust. It’s a great start to an inspirational studio.


  4. Lisa
    February 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I too and trying to redo my studio. I recently took old glass spice jars and used silver sodder (for stain glass) to cover the top. I hope to line a ton of them on my shelves by color.

  5. Libby
    February 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Yes, thrifting is such fun. I also check out the freebies on Craigslist for unusual/unique items that you might not want in your living room but are perfect for the studio. Also pottery can be used in many ways, wooden boxes, cigar boxes, little wooden fruit crates, a chunk of aquarium decor, a big seashell….anything to entice the muse to come play. I love the bust you found – she’s just perfect!

  6. Janel
    February 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I love finding beautiful bowls, dishes and glasses at second hand stores. When I pull beads for a project I keep track of them by arranging them on my desk in the containers. I also use the dishes, etc. as props for photos.

    Good luck in organizing that studio! For me staying organized is the big challenge.

  7. Gail W.
    February 21, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I have a small extra bedroom that I use as a studio.I have a pegboard,to hang jewelry on.Also beads strands,so I can see some of what I have.My computer is here,next to it a bullatin board& plenty of tacks,so if I print something,I can keep track&not lose it.I have several dressers,drawers labeled-stringing,Wire,fabrics,etc.Then,a bookshelve,a rolling plastic cart,with my gemstones,etc..And finally,a daybed I picked up at a yard sale.

  8. maryharding
    February 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I found an old set of wooden carpenter’s drawers at a very small out of the way flea market. They are in the process of being reworked into a place to store my beads. I have also seen old oak wooden tool boxes that inspire me. They would look great with your glass beads. I also like wooden type setting trays.

  9. Ann Rishell
    February 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    If you live near a university they may have a surplus division. I lived near Michigan State University and their surplus was great! The public was only allowed in 2 days a week, but the bargains were inspirational! I got steel cabinets with shallow drawers for holding slides, Steelcase office chairs for $1, and glass lab beakers for holding markers and seed bead tubes. It is all rather industrial, but that is my style.

    So check your local university’s website…

  10. baglady
    February 21, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I have white plastic too and I agree, its not very inspirational. But, it is clean looking and easy to keep track of everything- so it does have its advantages. I also have some old library card catalog pieces with lots of little drawers like the white plastic but in old light birch. I like to be able to see my beads when I’m designing. Nancy

  11. baglady
    February 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I have white plastic too and I agree, its not very inspirational. But, it is clean looking and easy to keep track of everything- so it does have its advantages. I also have some old library card catalog pieces with lots of little drawers like the white plastic but in old light birch. I like to be able to see my beads when I’m designing. Nancy

  12. baglady
    February 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I have white plastic too and I agree, its not very inspirational. But, it is clean looking and easy to keep track of everything- so it does have its advantages. I also have some old library card catalog pieces with lots of little drawers like the white plastic but in old light birch. I like to be able to see my beads when I’m designing. Nancy

  13. Sharon
    February 22, 2009 at 5:54 am

    I’m a white plastic rolling bead box kind of gal, and it can get boring, but I did set up an old pine coffee table in my studio and draped it in a rich, but inexpensive, sheer sage green silk fabric, then set my favorite stones, fetishes, and books on the table. I also added a flowering plant and candles. It’s a rather large coffee table!

    I look over at all my favorite things and get refreshed, touching the stones, browsing through illustrations…it brings back memories and experiences and I get a shot of inspiration. Now I need an ivory doll bust to complete my collection!

  14. Connie
    February 22, 2009 at 7:09 am

    haha! I was hoping YOU would give ME some tips! I have white plastic, but i also have huge open shelves and several fabric covered foam core boards that are up right all over the room and on top of things – some even hang from the ceiling. I have lots of pushpins for them, and I just pin up my works in progress and any ideas I get from magazines and quickie sketches i like etc, all over these boards. I am an immense art slob and the messier it is the more creative i get until i have about 10 projects going at once and i have so much stuff out – a “crapalanche” and i can’t find what I need!…then i clean it all up, reorganize….and start building the mess up again! my workspace has 16 foot ceilings and i hang lots of things from the rafters. i like organized chaos.

  15. Carolyn
    February 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I love the easy organization of the white plastic. I’ve done a few different things with mine over the years.
    I’ve used bright colored table runners, scarves, even curtains to cover the tops of the dressers, usually tying a couple together this way. One day when I got tired of seeing the clutter of what’s in the drawers I got some great wrapping paper, purple with small gold hearts, and lined the fronts of all the drawers, and the sides if they showed. Big project, but sure glams it up.
    I’d also love to see you hang your latest masterpiece on your bust and photograph it.
    Some of my inspiration also comes from displaying my three latest creations on some nice leatherette necklace busts. I put them on the dining room counter so every time I walk in the room I get a new vision of them.
    I also have some old typesetting drawers that are pretty cool…although my idea for them was that they’d fit on my bookshelves, they don’t (1″ too long) so now I’m trying to figure out how to use them. They are old wooden shallow drawers for the metal type faces, they’re about 1″ deep, by 32″ X 16″ and have lots and lots of compartments. These would be kind of cool on top of a couple of your dressers with various beads in them. I’ve also thought about hanging them on the wall and seeing if I could figure out a way to use them for display.
    If you’d like a photo of them let me know. Actually if you’d like a few of them I’d be happy to sell them for what I paid (I kind of overbought) $15.00. I’ve got one propped up in the corner just begging me to figure out how to use it. But I can’t bear to take down the fun funky colorful oil painting of two joyous women dancing.

  16. Heather Powers
    February 22, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I keep my beads in the small plastic boxes, not very creative either! But I do collect small ceramic dishes from artists that I use to display my favorite beads. I also use small vintage dishes that I’ve found over the years. My favorite are tiny white lotus bowls that hold little stashes of inspiration. My clay is stored in old metal index card files and my bullentin board is a find from an old office building. My studio is always way too messy to worry about decorating though!

  17. Cindy Gimbrone
    February 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    So many wonderful ideas!

    Yes, there is a window in my jewelry making studio/office. It’s on the second floor and looks out onto my neighbor’s roof. Still, the indirect sunlight and occasional pink sunrise sky is inspiring.

    I have lots of small little dishes and such to put projects but I can’t pile them up to store them very well. So I bought the small stackable drawers. Yet they’re so bland.

    Has anyone ever tried to paint plastic? Is there such a paint? Might be something to try.

    Keep the ideas coming! I really like the idea of a pegboard – I’ve been considering one for awhile – I could paint it too or cover it with paper/fabric?

    My creative juices are flowing!


  18. Patty
    February 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I think that the Home Depot type stores are now selling paint that works on plastic (think lawn furniture), so you might be able to spray paint it.

    I take great pleasure in using some of my grandmother’s Fostoria glass dishes to store and display some of my beads and supplies. The footed dessert dishes are especially elegant, and can also be used for taking pictures of finished work. I love thinking of her when I look at these things.

    I also found some wicker drawer units at a local import store, which I use to store gemstone beads and silver findings. It’s more decorative than functional, though.

    Good luck getting organized, Cindy!

  19. halinad
    February 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    We have several stores that are liquidating near us, and I went to see what they had the other day. I have just moved , and am setting up my studio in the garage (large alcove, yay!!). The store had many clothing display tables, display shelves, spin around containers that used to hold shirts all kinds of great things. I took home a large 6ft by 3 ft knockdown table with a great formica top, and 4 cubby shelves that will fit on the table (which I am painting some great colors). These liquidation sales are great places to look for the basics such as storage, or work stable or even displays. I can’t wait to get set up again!


  20. Valerie C.
    February 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    My mother-in-law and my husband go to second hand store’s to find interesting shapes, size’s, and color’s of contains for me to put my loose beads in. They have done a wonderful job. They have found things that can be made into earring display’s and neckless display’s to show off my creations at shows as well as in my studio. It makes for a very creative booth and studio. I set up part of my studio into a booth of sorts so that I am able to sell finished pieces out of there when I am not at a Flea market or a show of some kind.

    I become very inspired when I sit in my studio with never ending ideas. With pictures of old jewelry and fantasy magazine’s on my walls and music playing in the background. Music is very soothing and calming for you and your customer’s even it is Led Zepplin. I try to keep my studio appealing for customer’s and for my self as an artist.

    I think it is very important to keep your work space decorated for inspiration and to keep changing decorations around or changing up altogether. Do what ever keeps you inspired and happy.

  21. perlerouge
    February 22, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I use the same storage box and I am often in the Swedish department store, and have transparent plastic boxes for my beads, good luck

  22. sharon
    February 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    i find that if i take a good hard look around my house(and/or my mom’s or relatives!), i can usually find something that is not being used or can be put to better use. i also pick up baskets and old wooden boxes at the flea market. i like the eclectic mix of old and new.

  23. Anonymous
    March 8, 2009 at 3:45 am

    The first thing I'd do is use my white vellum papers or tracing paper [that’s quite opaque too & more cost effective], cut to fit drawer fronts and frame them out with color-coordinated embellishments – i.e. border/background stamps, brads, seed beads, etc. For larger items that do not fit comfortably in your drawer system, use spray glue and attach fabrics to different size boxes, pails, empty coffee cans, etc. – use the same fabrics or coordinating fabrics to not only line baskets but also make sure there is enough to cover them as well. You can then attach a contents label to each container. Another cost effective solution is to use different size mason jars. Again, labeling them and using fabrics to glue to the lids. The jars can be placed on a shelf in a double row making sure the row in the back is placed higher than the front for easy access via viewing the labels. Hope this gets your creative juices flowing…. Donna {PeaPodPeony}

  24. Little Bird Jewelry & Gifts
    March 8, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I like to cut up old magazines. I pull out the pages of an ad that contains cool color combinations (it can be for food or perfume or makeup or whatever)or interesting subject matter like butterflies, cut them out and tack them to my bulletin board hanging over my workspace for inspiration. Sometimes I make a collage with them and that inspires me!

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