August 03, 2012

Creating Work Spaces

For a little over a year I've slowly been renovating my place.  I started by repainting the closets in the master bedroom and then went on to the two bathrooms.  In September I tore out the bedroom carpet and replaced it with laminate flooring, as well as putting up new paint there too.  I'd hoped to get the same done to the living room before Halloween, and was able to do so with a little help from a friend but didn't get the room back together in time to have a party like I had hoped.

Now it's August and I'm still not quite done, although after months of messing about and procrastinating, I finally finished the kitchen and hallway painting in May.  I've only got one room left to paint, but it'll likely be a while until I get to that particular mess.

One of the troubles with being a collector-of-nerdities and practitioner-of-many-hobbies is storage space.  Even though my place is more than big enough for a single person, it's not big enough for said person and all of their assorted junk.  Books, movies, papers, games, miniatures, collectibles and all of that stuff starts to require an ever-growing amount of space.  Time to downsize those collections, most notably the toys!  In addition, trying to work on all of my assorted hobbies in a single work space is simply not feasible.

So in the process of my home re-organization I decided that I would try to create some dedicated work stations for some of my various hobby activities.  After having spent the last few months making terrain and painting miniatures on my dining room table it quickly became apparent that I needed a space to paint.  Ideally that spot would be one where I wouldn't have to endlessly move things from kitchen counter to kitchen table to top of the fridge and back again.  I also wanted to reclaim my dining table and kitchen space for the actual preparation and enjoyment of meals, without worry about plastic and metal shavings, residual glue, flocking or modeling sand becoming an unknown ingredient.

A hobby table was starting to sound really good, but I decided to make it extra complicated by requiring that it could also be used as a space to draw, either digitally or in the good old-fashioned pencil-and-paper way. That meant that the table needed to not only be able to store my paints, brushes and in-progress miniatures but also incline or be able to accommodate an inclined drawing board as well as a laptop and drawing tablet. pressure there.

My first thought was custom building something using modular parts from Ikea.  I even went as far as pricing out and buying some parts to try creating what I needed, but it quickly became apparent that I couldn't do everything I wanted without it either being very expensive or very complicated.  Then we made an impromptu stop at XS Cargo over the Canada Day long weekend, and my problems were solved.  Behold my $20 hobby desk!
Not exactly a stunning work of art I admit, but it serves far better than I could have anticipated.  I'm able to store all of my paints and other less-used materials on the keyboard tray.  They're easily accessible but nicely out of the way.  A simple lamp from Ikea provides enough light to work with and the recently added Citadel Paint Station+ is deceptively useful (even if it did cost more than 3 times what my desk did).  The paint station's smaller footprint forces me to focus on one or two small projects at a time, while also having room to keep the paints I'm using on them close at hand.  The palettes have actually allowed me to try my hand at mixing paints, which I seldom if ever did in the past...but I think now that a wet palette will be the way to go.  The whole thing slides neatly under the rear shelf when I'm not using it, keeping the desk looking relatively uncluttered, and is portable should I want to take my current project out to the kitchen or the deck for a change of location.
All of my basing materials, flocking and extra other bits are stored in a few containers to the right side, which does make them a little less convenient to get into but they're neatly organized and stored, which is a compromise I'll happily make every time.

In regards to drawing, the small back shelf serves double duty as a support for my drawing board, thus giving me the inclined art surface I was seeking. My drawing tools will all be placed off to the right but still within easy reach.  You may ask why they're on the right; it's because I'm left-handed, so rulers, erasers, templates and such are all better placed on the right whereas pencils and brushes live on the left.  I have a small three-drawer cabinet that will be going on the right hand side (where the blue containers in the picture are).  It will give me a little more table space and look better than having containers lying on the floor.

My laptop and Wacom tablet also fit on the desk should I need to do any digital work.  The upper shelf is a little narrow, but is large enough that I'm comfortable putting my MacBook up there while I'm drawing.  The only thing missing here is my scanner, which is connected to my desktop in the other room.  I don't use it that often and didn't feel it necessary to have at this particular workstation.  Scanning something in the other room and sharing it to the laptop is a simple affair and helps keep this work space simple and effective, although I supposed I could put it on the cabinet.  Hm, I wonder if the scanning software will work on my Mac...probably not.

In the future I'll share my 3D animation and recording studio set up with you kind folks...but it's in that room we talked about earlier, and I'd hate to show you that unsightly mess just yet.

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