I have been very busy in the studio the last few months and I count my blessings to be working in a place I can call mine. I cannot believe that a year ago, I finally realized my dream: build my own encaustic she-shed, away from the house, surrounded by the beautiful garden and close to the lake shores.
A perfect spot
We are very lucky to live in the wilderness, with the lake in our ‘garden’. We have access to a rowing boat, and many Sunday afternoons are spent swaying gently on the lake waters, taking pictures of the reflections on the surface of the water and the life and aquatic plants which hide below. We also have access to our own private woods, where I can go and hide at times when the business of life takes over. I have lived in the countryside for years now, I will never consider going back to the craziness and distractions of cities and towns. The wilderness feeds my soul and inspires me. The way the light moves on the lake, the sound of the trees or the wide array of colors in the garden feed my creativity no end. I have created this little sanctuary for me and my family, a place to love and create. Some call this a life of hiding; I prefer calling it a life well lived, giving space and time for inspiration and creativity . A place and time to breathe.
The design of the encaustic she-shed
Before I owned my own studio, I used to work in my house. I loved this space; however, there was always something else to do, cleaning, washing, procrastinating, instead of working in the studio. I needed to get out. I researched a fair bit the various options available. Yet the idea of owning my own woman shed was really ticking all the boxes.I was ready to join the she-shed movement which was sweeping the world, where women everywhere created their own space, their own cave, spaces to create and relax…why should it only be a man thing? It had to look unique, bohemian and most importantly mine. Here is the link to my research on Pinterest. It had to be custom-made for the encaustic process and most importantly be safe and healthy to work in. I contacted a company based in Ireland and we discussed together with the design of the studio. I gave them the size and shape I needed. It had to have 5 floor-to-ceiling large windows, facing South, the garden and lake shores, a never ending source of inspiration in my work. The wait was excruciating, however, 3 weeks later it arrived. I could not contain my excitement. The men quickly put up the flat pack walls and roof in less than two hours and left. We were then left with an empty shell. However, I had a clear idea what was necessary to have basic set up for an encaustic studio.
We started to work on it straight away.
Here are the various basic set up steps we took in order to have a fully functioning encaustic studio:
Getting started with a Basic Set-up
One of the most important set up in your studio is a proper ventilation system and a source of fresh air. Wax fumes can be toxic and should be treated with care. When we built the studio, we bought one good quality silent extractor fan, which removes fumes by evacuation of the air and filtration. In sunny days and during the summer, I also do tend to leave the window or door open so a good draft goes through the studio and leaves the air fresh. Plus, it is so beautiful to listen to the wind, rain or birds while working. For more detailed information, R&F Paints have a very helpful article on the subject posted here
A good size worktable is also necessary in order to keep your hotplate, a tool necessary to melt your encaustic medium, blowtorch, and other materials. A wooden table is a great alternative and make sure you do not have a plastic covering. It would melt under the intense heat from the heat gun or blowtorch. I ended up building three very large and long worktables. This allows me to have enough workstations for my encaustic workshops participants.
You also need to consider your electricity source, keeping in mind that a couple of hot plates and heat guns require a proper electrical setup; you do not want to blow the fuse box on a daily basis.
For safety and insurance reasons, it is also recommended to have a fire blanket and fire extinguisher at reach at all times. I also have a first aid kit for burn or other ailments. Do you know that Aloe Vera, one of the most common household plant does miracles on burns? Follow this link to find out more about the wondrous benefits of this miraculous plant. My aloe Vera for burns has set a permanent position in the studio.
Next blog post I am planning to go into details about the materials and tools.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need clarifications on the basic set up, and remember the most important thing when you set up your studio is safety, from fire and fumes.
To view my summer schedule of encaustic workshop, please visit this link
My next introduction to encaustic painting is taking place on the 1rst July, for more information or booking, please follow this link