Thank goodness for experiences – they make things so much easier! Back in Canada, I agonized over setting up a lampwork studio – it had to be perfect, pretty, and safe. All sounds reasonable, yes? And I built a GREAT studio, all from scratch (and I chronicled it all on a blog, which is now lost in cyberspace somewhere otherwise I’d send you there to take a look!!). I am still seriously proud of that accomplishment: assembling the actual building, drywalling, tiling the floor, building the workbench, etc… I had never done anything like that and I had a great group of friends to help and coach me along.
Fast forward now 2 years later: we have moved to Panama. Once I knew that I wanted to have my lampworking studio up and running, I didn’t even bat an eyelash at setting up a studio – I did it once (safely and successfully!) and I knew that I could certainly do it again! AND, I could correct some of the mistakes I made the first time around!
When we were house hunting, we found a lovely little house in the middle of a coffee farm in the mountains overlooking the valley of Boquete. And the BEST part: it had the space for me to put a studio! My studio in Canada measured 8ftx10ft and this one is a bit smaller at about 8ftx8ft.
In my Canadian studio, I invested in a high end greenhouse fan and it worked great (though it was noisy!). Because I couldn’t put a great big whole in the wall here, I rigged up a very affordable fan (to blow contaminated air cause when you melt glass, all kinds of toxins are released) out the existing window. After testing this ventilation set up with a simple smoke test (I burned a small piece of cardboard while the fan was running), I am amazed at how effective it is!
Lessons Learned From Setting Up a Lampwork Studio (the first time around):
- Make sure that the make-up air comes from BEHIND you… In the studio in Canada, I had the make-up air coming from my left side, rather than behind me. This made the flame very jumpy and hard to work with,
- Be close to water… Señor Luma is always less-than-impressed when I take over the kitchen sink to clean beads at. This new studio has an outdoor sink just outside.
- Forget pretty… In my last studio, I was so concerned with having a beautiful and inspiring space and I spent so much time and energy making it look like some Pinterest image… Considering how messy I am in my studio (SERIOUSLY messy!), I have decided to focus on function cause it never is clean and looks “pretty” for longer than 10 minutes!
- Set up your next studio in a TROPICAL country… In Canada, it gets really cold and really hot… This makes for a challenge when torching (the studio is either freezing cold or sweltering hot because the make-up air is bringing outside air in). Setting up a studio in Boquete (Land of Eternal Spring – temps are always between 17-25C!!) was a BREEZE!
- When you think you have enough storage, add more… ALWAYS add more…!
So, after a 6 month break from melting glass and creating in a studio, now is finally the time that I get back at it! Consider this a “soft opening” of the studio, as I spend the next few weeks working my way around and it making little tweaks to make it “perfect”!