Organizing your Workspace and Storage Space

Posted on December 30, 2011


Organization.  I know, I know, it’s a dirty word. Especially to an artist.  It means all work and no play and if you're like me you tend to slink away from that kind of stuff whenever possible.  But let me tell you, in the lampwork business, organization can mean the difference between wasting an entire day on a set of beads that cracked (grabbing the wrong COE clear) to avoiding the aggravation of waving a warm bead in the flame while you desperately sift through rods looking for the right color.


I, like so many, started off with the “de rigueur” system of glass jars/glasses/cups lined up across the back of my work station filled with all the glass I owned (about 2 pounds).  Then you get to the point where that’s not working so well so I switched to a cabinet filled with cut PVC pipe.  This approach worked pretty well but, let’s just say there was a bit of a dust issue.  So this is what I came up with:




I found the stainless unit at Sam’s Club (2009) for about $140.00 on clearance (!)  The drawers are a nice size and slide in and out easily despite the weight of the glass.  If it were a perfect world, I would look for a unit with shallower drawers, enough for the glass to lay in a single layer by color.   And it would be purple.



The stainless unit had a recessed compartment on top that my kiln fit into perfectly.  I lined each drawer with white foam sheet (from the craft store), which has turned out to be a good liner for the glass.


I added this Craftsman tool box a few months later (luckily it fit snugly in the open space).  I like its drawers better- they are shallower and there is less wasted space.   



 A two pound bundle of glass (Peachy Persimmon on the right, second drawer down) is just the right height for the drawer to still close:




Some of the shallower drawers are a little bit jumbled:



Hmmmm.  Maybe I have too much glass (yeah, whatever).  Really, I am going to use up what I have before I buy any new colorsJ


The stability of the unit is good- I have all the drawers pulled out in this picture, I would estimate I have about 60 pounds of glass per drawer:



My kiln fits perfectly on top (Paragon Bluebird XL 2 door), and is at a good height for me.  The unit also has wheels on it, but they do lock and I make sure they stay locked all the time.  I only move it on the rare occasions I clean underneath it. 


When you receive you glass, it is usually bundled neatly together with rubber bands.  CIM has tissue paper wrapped around the bottoms.  I would recommend you switch over to hair bands.  They are easily available at the drug store, they are relatively cheap and come in colors to match your glass (for the severely OC like myself).  Rubber bands tend to degrade, fail and leave hardened rubber residue on your glass that you have to scrape off:


 The hair bands are covered in nylon and don’t leave any residue, plus they hold your glass together forever (or at least 4 years).  Try sorting out 5 different types of clear once the rubber bands have failed- not a pretty sight.



My workstation/workspace:  (I am right handed, so lefties, just switch everything to the other side.)


Mandrels are in a metal container filled with rice to my left.  I use 3 different sizes of mandrels, so I keep them separated in groups.  I stack up the dried (older) ones in the front and then freshly dipped ones are behind them drying.  This way I just rotate the tin to position the mandrels closest to me.


I tend to spin the mandrel with my left hand, and pick up my glass with my right (as well as applying decoration).   


Personally,  I don’t mind having a lot of materials on my desk because I never know what I am going to need.  But depending on what your preferences are, you might prefer to only have out the glass you are going to use immediately.  I keep my rods lined up to my left by color, black, white and clear are closest to me because I use these on every set.  Frits, foils and murinni are to my right where I can easily pick them up with my tools, which are also to my right.  I keep large mashers/lentil presses to my left in front of my mandrels for when I need them.  Stringers are laid across the top of the table (I do have to sort through these when I need them). 




The table gets a little bit messy after an intense work session:




You can lay out only the colors you are going to use:




This is what I made from these two sets of color:



This was a nice way to work, but I still found myself wishing I had more orange/pink to choose from.  Usually everything is out on my desk and once I am finished with a set of beads I sort everything back into the larger piles.


I keep frit in piles to my right (for rolling) and a steel square has foil and dichro on it.  This also makes a killer place for my iced tea :)  To the left of the block are my silver colors, Reichenbach black and expensive clears. 




I modified this old wooden case (old art suppliesA) to hold my frit, enamels, foils, etc.:


 I still have a few canning jars filled with twisties, shorts and shards across the back of the table, I guess I can’t get away from these completelyHope this gives you some ideas, shoot me an email if you have any questions and as always, be safe!  Laura


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