Where Do You Create?

By on October 9, 2015
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by Judy Ellis, Wirejewelry.com

Wire Jewelry Article for October 9th, 2015

Where do you create?

By Judy Larson

Today we have a great article from Judy Larson, one of our newest content contributors. Judy has been featured before with a few of her Jewelry Patterns, as well as being our 1st Place Winner in the Think Spring OOAK Contest. You can see her beautiful wire wrapped creation HERE!

Judy takes you inside her “creative space” – and shows you how she stays organized which helps keep her creative juices flowing!


Where do you create?

People are always curious to see my craft/work room. Everyone thinks that it must be huge and wonderful, but it is just my basement laundry room. Granted, it is large for a laundry room, 12×15 feet, but besides laundry, I sew and quilt, sketch and paint, scrapbook and make cards as well as create jewelry in that room. (I do my woodworking in my unheated garage only in the warmer summer months.) All the supplies I use for those endeavors are stored in that room so I have easy access to them. Sometimes I think I should separate the supplies into different rooms, but I find there is a LOT of crossover in supplies and equipment. So, everything stays where it is. Besides, I can close the door on the mess, which is great.

I did not always have a dedicated work space. For years, storage was an issue so tools and supplies had to be kept at a minimum. I used the kitchen/dining room table and had to clear it several times a day so we could eat. See-through manageable sized storage containers that would slide under a bed made storage and clearing easier, but still, that was not ideal. After a move, I was able to carve out a very small space for myself on the landing at the top of the stairs but storage was still at a premium. I would have loved to use a rolling cart with shallow pull out drawers I could move to wherever I wanted to work, but under-the-bed storage was still necessary as supplies needed to be put away, out of sight of curious little hands. If I did not have the space I have now, I would still be using under-the-bed storage boxes along with rolling carts. They are a great size, hold a multitude of supplies, are easy to move, and are easy to slip out of eyesight into a closet.



Note: My work room seldom looks like this as there is almost always a project of some sort going! Only one corner of the room holds jewelry making tools and supplies. An old partners desk that I rebuilt and refinished is the centerpiece of the room. I use the desk for all my projects, not just jewelry. It has lots of deep drawers for storage of tools and metals. My garbage can is located in the cabinet on the right side. Before I found this desk, I used a smaller one and stored the garbage can under the desk in front of the chair.

A note on chairs: So I can always sit at the right height for whatever project I am working on, I purchased an adjustable height chair without arms (so I can get closer to the desk while still supporting my back). When my daughter, Kat, comes to visit, she can work in a matching chair on the other side of the desk. Because the back of the desk is open, I can also clamp a variety of tools like my vise or bench pin there. I do not recommend carpet, but since this is a basement, the floors are cold. Cold and the arthritis in my feet do not get along. One benefit to the carpet, however, is that beads do not bounce all over if I drop them!


I built two tool racks to fit the top of the desk. They are simple and easy to make with just two dowels and up to 4 feet of 8″ wide ½” thick lumber with the base surrounded with 2″ wide lath. I found that my tools are less likely to get scratched or marred when not thrown in drawers or in tubs on my desktop. What you see is by no means all my tools (I am a self professed tool junkie!) but these are the ones I use most often.


Next to the desk is a tall shelf that is just deep enough to hold stacked boxes of most of my beads (I am obviously a bead junkie, too!) along with several bench blocks and rubber blocks, small jewelers vise I inherited from my father-in-law, who was a watchmaker, wood blocks for forming sheet metal, a drill, and the all important fire extinguisher, which hopefully I will never have to use.


WhereDoYo Create5

I have a weakness for rescuing beat up or “throw-away” furniture, which my husband calls “garbage”. The tall cabinet in the middle is the result of finding many old sewing machines that were in such bad shape they were being tossed. I saved the drawers and for years, stored supplies in them on shelves. Finally, I got busy and now I have a unique piece that stores wire spools, glues, bead stringing material, alcohol inks, leather, metal stamps, less frequently used tools, old watch parts, Swarovski beads, resin supplies and UV lamp, scrapbooking tools, art supplies-just a whole host of things. The rock cairn on top was made for me by a Canadian friend, Roland Hill. The neck mandrel holds a sterling neck piece my son-in-law Richie found in the sand while snorkeling on honeymoon in the Caribbean. The antique spool chest the TV and bracelet mandrels sit on was a garage sale find, but quite broken down until my father fixed it for me over 30 years ago. It has held wire and sheet metal, in plastic bags, ever since. The two cabinets below are from an old vanity. The drawers are the perfect depth for file folders or stacked plastic shoe box size storage boxes. One drawer holds all my metal clay supplies and tools.



I print out photos of what I make on typing paper and transfer all my construction notes. When there is a stack of paper an inch or so thick, I have them spiral bound at an office supply store. Sometimes I clip on templates, etc. so put the pages in plastic sleeves in a 3 ring binder. I do not purchase too many quilt or jewelry making books but I store all my notebooks and books in one place.


If you keep going around the room, you will first find my scrapbooking supplies, ironing board and fabric. The upper cabinets hold more fabric, as well as my torches and equipment and supplies I use with them, LOS and containers along with PMC clay and molds and stamps. A cabinet made by my great grandfather for Christmas in 1907 for my grandmother, who wood burned and finished it, using it for a music cabinet, now stores some of my art supplies. Through the years it has stored games, markers, crayons and coloring books, yarn and knitting needles, was a TV cabinet and most recently stored embroidery supplies. The washer, dryer, sink and water softener are on the same wall under a very small basement window.


And finally on the last wall in my laundry craft room, there is more fabric storage and the sewing machine cabinet my father made for me as a college graduation gift in 1972.


Larger tools like the drill press, large anvil and the kiln, etc., are in the garage. I do not have a problem with rust on any of the metal tools in the laundry room or the garage because I coat them with WD40 on a regular basis. When I do laundry, I turn on the dehumidifier.

My space is constantly changing and evolving as I find new pieces that seem to work better in the space, or I find new tools or supplies that I need to find room for. Your creative space will always be evolving, as well. Mine did not happen overnight-after all, I have been “collecting” rocks, beads and tools for over 60 years, and my space reflects that.

What does your creative space look like? How to you store your supplies? What “find” can you re-purpose?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this wonderful article by Judy and that it will help inspire you to get your creative space set up to find your inspiration!

Happy Wrapping!

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  1. avatar

    Deborah Carlson

    October 9, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Judy, I love your cozy workspace and all the handmade, or sentimental pieces that you have made functional.Every piece of furniture has a story to tell.

  2. avatar


    October 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I love your work space and the stories that accompany the various cabinets and work surfaces. I especially love the old Singer sewing machine cabinet drawers you’ve reclaimed and re-purposed! I have only been in my current Craft Studio (affectionately called “The Crap Room” by my DH) since 2010 when my son moved out of his bedroom into his first apartment. I quickly outgrew the space and have been fighting to make the room actually work rather than just store ever since. I recently bought a Queen Anne styled writing desk to replace a desk that was entirely too large for this former bedroom. Evolution of space occurs whenever I can work on it or in it for more than 15 minutes at a time! I will try to channel your “less is more” in my endeavors!

  3. avatar

    Anne Bellissimo

    October 9, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Wow! Great post! I also do metal clay, beading, wire, metalworking and some paper craft and some glass and enamel. All storage nightmares. This has been so helpful. I don’t have to give up a messy craft–I just have to work smarter.

  4. avatar


    October 9, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I would love to have a work station. However, I take three Thirty one utility totes with me to all of my shows as I like to be able to customize on the spot if need be for my customers. So I would be constantly moving stuff in and out of bags. I craft everywhere, my bed, the couch, kitchen table and even during car trips.

  5. avatar


    October 10, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I enjoyed the tour of your workroom and feel like it could be mine too. I’m working on getting my stuff together enough to make a workroom. Recently moved and even though I thought I was organized I can’t find anything anywhere yet. But progress is always on the horizon. Thanks for sharing and helping me get motivated again.

  6. avatar

    Connie Nelson

    October 10, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I really enjoyed your article. It inspires me to be more creative in establishing “my space”.