Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Studio - at home or away?


I’d love to hear any advice/suggestons/experiences on working in a
"home" studio vs. a studio space outside of your house. I recently
returned to jewelry making after way too long in the corporate cog.
I’ve got a wonderful little space set up in my home, but feel that my
biggest battle/struggle is with being AT HOME (and alone) all the
time. I do get out, see people, errands etc. often, but feel like
separate place to do my work would be 10 times more efficient. That
of course, would not be free, so it is a decision to think about…
Any advice would be very welcome!

Thanks! JT

I have a studio at home, and you may find it difficult at first to
be efficient. But as long as you are focused and take on one step at
a time. example: I wouldn’t try to do all aspects of producing at
once if your expertise happens to be fabrication and not so much
stone setting line someone up and farm it out. Concentrate first
then branch out. You may get bogged down. Make the place pleasant
and comfortable. I have seen to many home/garage studios packed with
equipment it is just plane uncomfortable. All I do at home is carve
wax and make molds I know how to do more but my space allows me to
do these things.

I hope I was helpful feel free to contact me in the future if I can
ansure any other questions.

Mike Manfredi

Hi JT,

Welcome back to the jewelry community. It must feel good to be back
doing something so rewarding after the corporate environment (I know,
I was there for way too long, too!).

I think the answer to your question really depends on the
individual’s work style. I’m lucky, in that I have a home studio,
but also work with folks in a wonderful lab environment at our
community college, where I also work. Truly the best of both worlds.
I can isolate myself “without excuse” for hours on end when I’m
working on something intensely, or I can work in the lab in a more
social environment, and on a more fixed schedule.

The lab/group environment has some excellent benefits:

  • Shared equipment that is beyond what I could afford for my own
    private studio

  • Collaboration and idea-sharing when trying to solve a problem

  • Creative energy in seeing how others approach problems and design

  • There’s no excuse for not accomplishing something if you’ve
    gotten in your car and driven all the way there and unpacked your
    stuff. You might as well do SOMEthing! Which sometimes is just
    enough to kick-start those creative juices, and is always enough to
    keep you honest and working.

The lab/group environment also has some drawbacks:

  • That piece of equipment that is the ONLY reason you came in today
    is being “hogged” by someone else (of course, you’d be hogging it
    yourself, if you’d only gotten in 10 minutes earlier)

  • Equipment and supplies that occasionally “sprout legs” (usually
    ending up in someone else’s toolbox for a week until they come back
    in and sheepishly return it… but sometimes disappearing

  • Seeing other people pick up on your “neat” idea for a new way of
    designing something – sometimes things that you weren’t quite ready
    to “share” with the community

  • Figuring out where those darned Beginners might have put the
    whatsis, instead of putting it back where it really belongs! (It’s
    always the Beginners who get blamed, you know!)

The home student environment has some excellent benefits, as well.

  • Great commute, easy to find parking

  • Your tools are ALWAYS where you left them

  • You will never come in to find supplies you need missing (unless
    YOU haven’t reordered)

  • You can just get to work without the fuss of unpacking and
    repacking tools and equipment

  • You can leave pieces out for “casual” viewing as you walk by the
    bench. That can be a great way to solve thorny problems, as you
    "remind" yourself subconsciously of the problem and let your mind
    work through it in the background.

  • You can customize your work space to your style of working, and
    can take into account your personal ergonomic needs.

The drawbacks to a home studio?

  • It’s so easy to get to that sometimes it’s hard to get there.
    (I’ll just do one more load of wash before I get started… I really
    have to go grocery shopping - I’ll work in the studio when I get

  • You have no one else to blame when a tool goes missing or
    something you need hasn’t been reordered. No Beginners here!

  • It’s isolated from other designers, which can lead to
    self-referential designs (get involved in a design community/guild
    to help with this)

  • Your equipment resources are limited to what you can afford to
    purchase/lease… which, in turn, limits your designs to what you
    can accomplish with your own tools (not always a bad thing, but
    sometimes can be limiting.)

I’m sure we can all think of a LOT more to add to these lists, but
as you can see, it comes down to what YOU like and what will suit
your work style best.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

This is my fifth incantation for a studio. The first was a room in
my apartment. I had gotten an acetelyene tank from my supportive
husband, and never turned it on. I was so scared of the gas that I
never went in there.

We moved to a large studio about 25 minutes away from my house. I
was taking classes at an adult ed. It was in a large building
filled with artists using all media, but I was the only metalsmith.
I had my own walls in a small space with a window. I was in heaven.
I met all kinds of different artists, and I credit that experience
to where I am now. But after working a full day in my lab at
Harvard, I got there only in the evening and weekends. One night I
stopped looking at the clock and just worked until I got sleepy. It
was 2 am! We moved out of that studio when we bought our first
house. The realtor thought we were odd, as our purchase depended on
whether the basement was suitable as studio space!

We found a good place with a large basement. I was a Sophomore at a
local art college in Boston and could work at home. It proved to be
a quiet sanctuary from the college metals department. Understand
that I was at least 25 years older than these kids, and while I
truly enjoyed my time there, going out for beer at 1am wasn’t my

After graduation, what started out as a sanctuary, now seemed like
an isolated jail. I actually MISSED the people around me. I think
this was what began the seed for Metalwerx.

Now I have the best of all worlds. I am back to four walls around
me with a door to close if I need it. When the door is open, I can
hear all the laughter down the hall or one of my studiomates come up
and show me a piece which is in progress.

The point of this is, you have to know who you are as a person and
how you work best.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Hi Jennifer,

I also left the corporate world to become an artist, and I, too,
have a studio at home.

Because of my business background, I already had the discipline to
go into the studio and work. What I found out after a while, is that
I needed more discipline, to STOP myself at times. It is truly a
double edge sword and maintaining a BALANCE between work and play is
the key.

If I am in the studio for too long, it becomes unproductive. If I
schedule visits with friends, it actually becomes a “reward” to look
forward to. I work harder when I know there is something (fun)
scheduled outside the studio. It is so important to breathe in and
re-energize yourself.

Look at the advantages of working at home:

(1) NO COMMUTE!!! I don’t know how far away from home you worked,
but I’m thankful every day that I do NOT have to get into my car, or
get on a train, or deal with traffic and type A attitudes.

(2) You can take a siesta in the middle of the day if you are

(3) You can listen to your favorite music while you work.

(4) You can make your own hours (double edged, again) - I remember
a conversation with another artist regarding this. A customer was
discussing the advantages of setting your own hours - The retort was
"Yes, I can work a half a day every day - it just depends upon which
12 hours I want to work."

Balance is the key, and that becomes a dance …

There is the creative force which all of us deal with - especially
when there is a business at stake. There are days I walk into my
studio with a plan. Then I spot a stone that speaks to me (NOT in
the plan), and suddenly the day becomes all about that stone. I used
to struggle with this, and try to stick to my original plan. What
I’ve learned is that I lose all productivity when trying to stick
with “the plan”. I am my MOST productive when I simply go with the
creative flow.

The holes in the inventory still get plugged in for the next
deadline. I don’t really know how it all happens, but it’s all part
of the dance. I believe that when you are doing what you love, all
the details truly fall into place.

I don’t know if you consider yourself a “people” person (as so many
artists do not seem to enjoy doing shows). I love doing shows and
dealing with the people (most of the time!!). However, when I return
home, I’m totally depleted. (Time to breathe in!)

The dance (which we all do) requires a certain amount of resilience.
The rhythm is unique to each person - and is the balance between
the creative force and the required business/paperwork/PR that needs
to be done in order to make a living. I think “hunger” is a big
factor in setting the pace (literally or metaphorically!).

Any unsolved problems also interfere with the rhythm. I’ve become
a much better problem solver, as my reward is the creativity that
follows. It takes time for my energy to balance out, but the dance
always ends up in the studio - and I start all over again!

Most of the problems you face (with a studio at home or away) will
remain the same - it’s all about the dance and balancing your life.
Why complicate it by adding to the statistical probabilities of a
commute, rent, etc. etc.

Please contact me if you want to discuss any of this. I’d be happy
to contribute whatever I can.

Hope this helps!!
Cynthia Downs

I have a studio, now. Started paying rent a few months ago, and just
in the last couple of weeks have I started to spend real time there.
I still have a few things to get smoothed out but I love it.

I used to have a workspace in my basement and I just could not make
myself go down there and stay. I’d go down there and within 10
minutes, I’d find a reason to go somewhere else. Part of my problem
was it was in the cellar; no matter how many lights I put up, I was
still in a cement-lined hole. I also think I am not a work-at-home
person; it’s just too easy for me to do other, house-y things.

The building I’m in is a converted school in an old mill town with
still-living town center. The rent is affordable. There are other
people there. The building is not as full-time as I might like and
therefore not as lively as it could be, but that’s ok. There’s a
website for the building: It’s also
home to a really excellent community theater. The gallery also is the
venue for art shows that have ties to the community.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts
No one deserves lung cancer.

Message split

I have had studios in my home and seperate from my home, and in
different places in my home. I find that what matters most for me,
regardless of where the studio might be, is developing a “pattern” to
my day and week, so that I know when is studio time and when is
house/yard time and when is whatever else is going on time. Without
a good pattern, certain bits overwhelm the rest and I’m left feeling

I like working pretty much alone, with periodic infusions of other
people provided by workshops and shows, and sometimes inviting
someone to come to the studio and look and comment. I get too
distracted by other folks working around me to be able to really take
off on things. That said, if I don’t have the workshop/show chance
to get some input for a while, I really miss it! I live in a very
rural non-artsy area, and there really is not local input available

I envy those of you who have local community colleges, etc., that
offer classes and support. In my dreams!

Best wishes to all.
Beth in SC, being supervised by the computer cat

Hi JT,

An insightful question! When I left my corporate job to pursue
jewelry, I automatically assumed that my at-home studio was the best
of all worlds. The rent (mortgage) was already accounted for, I had a
"slippered commute", and everything I needed was close at hand. Karen
Christians was the first to suggest I might re-think this strategy.
She mentioned that a close-by studio might be a better answer, but I
didn’t see the wisdom in this for several months.

Having an away-from-home studio provides a clear delineation of when
you’re at work, and when you’re at home. This is even more important
if you have family contributing to a productivity problem. I found
myself playing a little mental game about having to do dishes or
laundry, or some other task in order to “earn the right” to go out
and get to work in the studio. The long, uninterrupted days in the
studio I had envisioned never materialized. Too many opportunities
for distractions, intrusions, etc. In an outside studio, its much
easier to say, “I’m working right now…”

Another advantage of an outside studio space is meeting clients. For
good and obvious reasons, my wife feels uncomfortable with clients
coming to the house. Granted we have a nice, formal living room that
is usually in good shape for such a meeting. But as far as privacy
and anonymity go, it leaves me feeling exposed, as well. On occasion,
I have also felt that clients would feel more comfortable meeting at
an outside location.

All the best,

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Hi JT,

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that I got a little
depressed making the switch from busy jewelry factory to home
studio. You don’t realize how theraputic it is to have co-workers
or a little “community” that you know well and interact with on a
daily basis. Doing errands and chatting with people you vaguely
know doesn’t really feel the same. But I did get over it after -
can’t remember how long - months? two years? And you definitely
need to set some work hours for yourself. Days could go by getting
side tracked by just doing a bit of laundry, a quick clean up, oh,
and I have to pay the bills, etc. before you go do jewelry.

The other side is now that I have children it is great to have work
place in the home. Not that I get much done when they are around,
but I have my mom watch them and I am still around if they need a
quick hug or to kiss a boo boo. I like being able to wander
downstairs in my pjs and fiddle around any time of day or night.
And if there is a rush job no one will shut the lights off and tell
me the building is closed before I finish. Besides that I don’t
have to spend time looking “presentable”, then driving to a studio
before I can work. And I can hop right in the shower when I am
done, especially after doing a lot of buffing.


Hi all,

I have a studio at home, and I love it! Though I agree that it can
be lonely at times, and the dishes, food, and laundry can be
distracting, the converse is also true. I can focus because nobody
else is here, and I can multi-task----I can work while the laundry
runs and the the spaghetti sauce cooks. As a mother, it is
wonderful, because I can work and keep an eye on what the teenagers
are up to; I’m here when the school calls to say that my son just
broke his finger; I can work when they are home from school because
they have a snow day or are sick; I’m here to say hello when they
come home from school. When I had a studio away from home, I was
perfectly capable of wasting time talking about the weather, or
reading a magazine, instead of working—so I think you can be
distracted anywhere, and each person has to figure out what is best
for them.

I think it is very helpful to have the studio be a separate room
with a door, so that you can know when you are at work, and when you
are not.

I do think that it can be difficult if you are in a basement,
without windows; I moved from the basement to the attic, in my
previous home. I like looking out the window. I get a kick out of
the fact that I can recognize the sounds of the UPS truck, the mail
truck, my neighbor’s car, my kids’ and the neighbors’ voices…

Someone else talked about “playing games in your head” in a negative
way. I think of those games in a positive way, such as: If the
kids are out of the house, then I’d better be working! and: Let the
answering machine answer the phone. And: “Goodbye, family! I’m
commuting downstairs to work, now…”

I love being able to use bits and scraps of time—they add up!

I love my commute! No wasted time, no worries about rush hour, or
snowstorms…And, if I can’t sleep, I can go downstairs and work a
while, without any worries about security, such as walking at night
by myself.

In terms of another aspect of security: I do think it is wise to
get a PO Box if you are working in gems and precious metals in your
home. And, keep a “low profile” about it—for instance, if a repair
person comes, I put away as much jewelry stuff as possible, and say I
am a sculptor.

Just my two cents. Cindy

Cynthia Eid

I agree with Cindy about the home studio–I love having it here.
The drawback–if any–is being alone all the time. But there’s a
telephone and transportation if I really feel I have to have human
contact–and I do have the good fortune to have a husband who is
both supportive of what I do and also engrossed in his work when
he’s home. For me, when I first set up a studio, it was partly an
economic issue. But I’m glad to have made the decision to work in
the house. I can close the door, if I need to–it’s my space, so I
don’t have to think about anyone coming in if I’m not there. And I
deeply appreciate the ability to be totally concentrated on my
work–which I find to be a combination of my own attitude and the
solitude of the studio. I guess the best way to do your best work is
to choose what works for you and go with it–and be honest with

I also believe that whether you choose to be solitary or not,
whether to have auditory or visual stimulation while you work or
not, is totally a personal choice and doesn’t deserve to be judged
by others. Again–just be honest with yourself and true to your own
needs. Sometimes that sounds easier than it is–but it’s worth


Continue from:


My husband and I live in a house in “every block mid-America.” More
and more, we are less and less consumers and less and less
interested in decorating and housekeeping! Does anyone else go thru
this? I find myself wanting to sell the house and move into a
warehouse or studio that just has a kind of “office” area that we
can convert to living quarters.

I keep books for my husband’s business, my business, and I have a
part-time job as the pharmacy manager (I am a registered pharmacist)
at a nonprofit children’s clinic. The bookkeeping is very, very time
consuming and I am constantly feeling bad about my house being
dirty–not to mention repairs that need to be done that we don’t
find the time for.

Where does one live when one no longer has the “keep up with the
Joneses” house thing? I want to be able to have more time to make
jewelry and less to dust vases!

J. Sue Ellington
3809 Gulf Ave
Midland, TX 79707

Where does one live when one no longer has the "keep up with the
Joneses" house thing? I want to be able to have more time to make
jewelry and less to dust vases! 

Just don’t let it worry you. After four years the dust won’t get any

Bill Bedford

Boy can I relate to this! I live in the type of neighborhood that
works with this lifestyle. I live on a street with houses that were
built anywhere from 1900 to 2002. It is not a subdivision and
each house is individual. Since the houses aren’t of the cookie
cutter variety, a lot of flaws are overlooked, with the exception of
an extremely unmowed lawn. That can often be handled by the
neighborhood teenagers for a reasonable fee. I think the key for
you is to avoid a subdivision and perhaps find an older community.
I am fortunate that I live in a small town which is actually part of
a large metropolitan area–so I have the advantages of both worlds.
My home was built in the 1920’s and we have added on and made many
improvements–new kitchen, central air-conditioning etc.–but there
are plenty of things that go wrong in an old house–cracks in
plaster, issues with floors, etc.–that are easily overlooked and
seem to go with the territory. People just expect an old house to
be–well–old! I have a studio in the basement right next to an
outside entrance which I can open for additional ventilation, if
necessary. There are extra rooms which can be used for
computer/bookkeeping areas --such as the large dining room and
several smaller bedrooms. I can’t imagine living anywhere else!

Vicki Embrey

Where does one live when one no longer has the “keep up with the
Joneses” house thing? I want to be able to have more time to make
jewelry and less to dust vases!

I’d suggest “hiring a maid” to clean your house. I haven’t cleaned
in years!!! heheheh, the person I pay, and pay well . … does the
cleaning. Twice a month seems to be enough . … It’s kind of like
hiring someone to mow your lawn.

More and more, we are less and less consumers and less and less
interested in decorating and housekeeping! Does anyone else go
thru this?

I don’t know about “everybody else” but this certainly describes
me! I live with (and am gratefully supported by) a software engineer
who works like a maniac for a start-up and all the inside and outside
house tasks belong to me. We live in deep suburbia, and I am losing
sight of whatever advantages there might be, in the mulch and weeds
and the flaking paint, etc.

Since childhood I’ve been very fond of quonset huts; as an
inexpensive, sturdy, quickly-erected building form, I think they
should be used more often. (It seems to me that a hurricane would
just roll over one, no?) I’d love one. I’m also very interested in
underground or partially sod-covered structures, with the above
ground being planted in wildlife supporting grasses and flowers. I
dream about this.

I’ll be interested to read what everyone else has to say.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts
No one deserves lung cancer.

Hi: We live in a very small house and long ago gave up the idea of
keeping up with the neighbors, and accepted the fact that we’ll
never be able to afford a loft in New York City. So we decided to
follow our own style and timetable, creating within our house, what I
call," a working house." I have a small studio in one room that
jewelry shares with stained glass. My husband has a workshop in the
basement. We each have a “computer room” that is also an office or
a guest room when necessary. Mine also houses my sewing machine and
all the fabric I can’t get myself to throw out. We spend a great deal
of time at our own interests, and a lot of time working in the house.

Cleaning and repairs, which have to be done wherever you live, are
done on an ‘as needed’ basis and shared between us. My husband seems
to think he needs to do all the repairs himself, and what’s more,
he’s very good at it, so they tend to wait until he gets to them,
unless of course, it’s an emergency. Even cooking has become very
informal, and we often prepare things in advance and freeze them so
we have the elements to put a meal together in a hurry. Over the
years I’ve become less concerned about the dust – it’s not life
threatening, and does no harm. Eventually it gets cleared away, but
it always comes back.

Our house is also very personal–the decor is idiosyncratic–only
things we love to look at and that have meaning to us are hung on
the walls, lots of big, tropical plants that winter indoors, and a
few animals (just got 4 parakeets). Added to this, my collection of
preserved and framed insects turns some people off, but I think
they’re beautiful and I like to look at them, so they stay on the
wall. Since we are concerned about the neighborhood looking
attractive we keep the outside as neat as possible, and hire a
neighborhood boy to cut the grass in the front of the house. We
plant flowers because we love to have flowers.

I don’t need to have my neighbors agree with my style of decoration
or housekeeping, and I suspect they think we are a little strange.
But we are friendly and cordial, and when someone does come into the
house, they are fascinated by all the interesting things we have,
and seem to think it is very cozy. Our friends, of course, know we
are a little ‘different’ but love us anyway, or maybe because of it,
so that’s no problem.

I hope this helps! It’s meant to encourage you to set your own style
of living, and that your are not alone in finding your work more
valuable than conforming to other people’s norms. If you’d like to
talk about it some more, e-mail me offline at

    Where  does one live when one no longer has the "keep up with
the Joneses" house thing? I want to be able to have more time to
make jewelry and less to dust vases! 

Take a look at She has great suggestions for keeping
a house in order using only a very small amount of time each day.
Following her methods leaves LOTS more time for making jewelry once
you get the daily routines down.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry

Hi Sue Get rid of the vases and other superferlous stuff that you
don’t need nor want to dust. If you like your house don’t fret about
a little dust as no matter how often you dust it comes right back.
Clean in small bunches as a way to break up a day or when you need a
break from a bad day of making art.

I vacuum when I can’t stand the floors anymore, with animals and a
doggy door that can be every hour or once every couple of weeks. Wash
floors and cupboard doors as needed. A dishwasher helps with keeping
dishes clean and works while you do other things, as does the
washer/dryer. Once a week I take an hour or more as needed to
reorganize and file the stacks of paperwork, bills etc. that we pile
during the week and I pay my bills via the internet so they are done
faster and easier. Even though we are in the city I only do major
shopping every two weeks, (my husband likes it that I am not a
typical shopping loving woman:)).

It usually gets a little more hectic as I get into the school season
as I teach jewellery making classes to kids on weekends and rock &
gem classes to Grade 3 students during the week, to help I request 2
weeks notice to do these classes so I can schedule everything
together. During the school year I live by my day timer.

All it takes is not to sweat the little things. Our house is our
home and is lived in so it is not perfectly clean and tidy. As long
as it is basically CLEAN, the rest is only window dressing. My
friends say they like our house as it is comfortable and they feel
they can be themselves. Only a few rules for children to help keep
things easy include keeping drinks to the kitchen, but munchies can
be eaten in front of the TV as a vacuum makes short order of crumbs.
The exception is no food eaten if playing Video games as the games
and controls are hard to clean.

Enjoy life, don’t sweat the little things.

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady)
K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always sparkle.

Tired of keeping up with the Joneses? Go live with the Smiths! :smiley:

I can definitely relate to this as I currently live in a little
Levittown subdivision. It’s a nice one, as they go, with smaller
houses rather than McMansions, and folks do some nice individual
touches with their landscaping. That said, the houses are about 8 -10
feet apart and there’s no such thing as a private backyard. Our own
landscaping is always being critiqued by the neighbor - I don’t think
the yuccas were a hit :stuck_out_tongue:

I think Vicki hit the nail on the head in dealing with this issue -
as long as the outside of the house looks presentable, nobody will
know what sort of chaos is going on within. Just don’t invite 'em
over to look at your vases…

Jessee Smith