I won’t bore you to tears with acres of explanation, I’ll let the images tell the story – except to say… the new studio is FINISHED! Well, all except a few minor jobs.

One vital job, that I forgot to mention earlier, was that our fields are easily waterlogged and our buildings have no drains to accept water from their roofs. That was then – but now we have had the drainage boys in!

They laid a 6″ drain the full length of the field, ran off a spur to connect to four more spurs that drain the worst areas, AND the main drain continues behind all of the buildings to collect the roof run-off! In the meantime I spent a week moving a mountain of sand to fill in the old duck pond (no ducks, no geese, so no need for the pond).

Filling the duck pond and the drainage is underway
The new studio sits at the back of the yard as viewed from our lane
The furniture restored and painted
The laying of the carpet tiles is almost complete - at 1:20 am!
The new chairs have arrived...
...and the sturdy tables.
My 1.0 x 1.2 metre A0 drawing board is installed

Almost finished now. My massively heavy drawing board was dismantled, dragged from the old studio (Heck, was I feeling my age!) and reassembled. It can be moved but it’s not something you’d want to do often!

Artograph DB300 graphics projector

My 30 year-old faithful Artograph was moved into the new studio. I don’t use it often these days but sometimes it’s invaluable.

Set up and ready to teach!

And finally, all I need is workshop attendees – which we had (a full house!)… except that I was so engrossed in teaching I forgot to take any photos! 🙁

Oh well! Next time I WILL take photos! And you haven’t long to wait because we’re holding another Weekend Workshop on October 1st and 2nd. It’s already 50% booked so if you want to join us (and be royally fed by Jenny!) head over to my website for the full details:

Thanks for following the progress over the past year, and for all your good wishes along the way – I really do appreciate them.

New Studio nearing completion!

I had every intention of keeping you up to date on progress but the progress took so much time there wasn’t any to spare. Sorry! Well, today we emptied three B&Qs of carpet tiles – and we had to change plans half way through due to a shortage and settled on two colours instead of one.

Having returned from the Maidstone 3-day workshop on Monday, tomorrow the final work begins in earnest. It has to! We’re holding our first 2-day workshop here on September 17/18. Incidentally, it’s fully booked, so we’re running another two weeks later on October 1/2, and even that’s filling – just six places currently available.

OK, back to the studio…

The walls and ceiling are lined with plywood. I would have preferred plasterboard but the builder persuaded me that the wooden building would move and plywood would be a better choice. I’m still not convinced – especially after hours of filling and levelling all the joints. They’ll never be perfect but at least they look a lot flatter.

That job done, the paper hanging began with heavy weight liner paper. Now, I hate papering ceilings – and this one is 20′ by 22′! There’s nothing more likely to frustrate than trying to handle a 22 foot long piece of gooey paper above your head and paste it accurately.

I actually enjoy hanging paper – vertical paper! – and it took only three days to complete the four walls. By then I also had the skirting boards and architraves in place and gloss painted.

So, what are the two donkeys doing in the centre of the room? An extra and unexpected job 🙂 Jenny was raising funds for “Walk with Donkeys” in Crete and needed a collection box. The two donkeys have now been completed and fixed either side of a central box.

Donkey Charity Collection Box

Back in the studio, the ceiling received three coats of paint and I was ably assisted by my good friend Chris Howlett, who had come up from Cambridge to help. While staying in US hotels I had noticed the wall coverings and set out to find the same in the UK. If they’re good enough to take the punishment meted out in hotel rooms, I knew they’d suit me too. I finally found a source of commercial vinyl “extra scrubbable” wallpaper in a warm off-white – and 56″ wide! That really speeded the job up… until disaster struck!

The wallpaper paste soaked through the lining paper and “blew” the plaster that was smoothing the bad joint between two of the wall boards – where it mattered on the main wall I’ve earmarked for filming DVDs. We tried a couple of fixes but eventually realised that only complete renewal would suffice.

Eventually, I managed to turn back the edge of the vinyl paper, removed a section of lining paper, and re-plastered the entire joint. Finally, I succeeded in inlaying a new section of lining paper and left it for two days to dry throughly. With a lot of trepidation I set about hanging the next section of wide vinyl, knowing that I only had an inch of overlap to trim to a accurate joint. I should have mentioned that this commercial paper is not butt jointed, instead it has two selvedge and you overlap adjacent sheets by 2″. Then you cut through both sheets with a knife and smooth the cut edges together. It can (honestly!) give an almost undetectable join – when it’s done by a professional 🙂 Fortunately, the joint went well and the last wall was quickly completed.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, Pete Hogg arrived to begin work on the nearby toilet, which is good – except that I have the door frame and door to fit and install all the electrics. And all Pete has to do is convert a 100+ year-old former earth closet into a state-of-the-art restroom! He’s doing an absolutely splendid job and, as I write, should have installed the hand basin and water heater, and completed the floor tiling, tomorrow.

Pete Hogg happily working on the 'luxury restroom'

In the meantime, I’ve completed the electrics and installed the lighting. And I’m furiously completing the plan chest work table, painting the print rack, dresser and associated shelves, and this morning I installed the outdoor half of the HVAC air conditioning system. The chairs have been delivered, we have one table and will order the remainder on Monday, and… it looks as though we will be ready for the inaugural workshop 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll begin work on the interior half of the air conditioning, in between adding coats of paint to the furniture. More updates as soon as I have time… if any can be found!

Studio Update – July

Well, you’re probably thinking I’ve lost interest in my new studio. Far from it! But I have been very busy preparing for the US workshops, and I was away for the whole of June running them. However, progress has been made.

Shortly before our departure I completed the overhead wiring of a telephone line from our house to the studio, after welding various bits of spare metal together to make a mast. It will eventually have a weather vane on top… if only we could find it! We received it as a gift a few years ago and stored it away safely. Too safely!

Erecting the smart new telecoms mast... and Swallow perch

Years ago we bought an old plan chest for £2 from a farm sale and ever since it’s lived in my workshop collecting dust… until now. It was far too deep so I’ve reduced its depth by nine inches, I’ve renovated the carcass, given it three coats of paint and now it just needs handles – all 18 of them! With a new and wider top fitted, it will become my workbench in the studio.

Plan chest - waiting for the paint to harden
Power consumer unit
I’ve been doing all the electrical work myself…but I draw the line at connecting it all to the mains!

I had the professionals in to complete the job, after I’d dug a 30 metre trench between our house and the studio for the power cable. They did a very neat job, checked out my wiring for me (only one missing earth connection!) and set up the system to include the studio wiring once it’s completed.

The packing and shipping room has been in use for a couple of months or more, and the shelves are full of copies of “Drawing from Line to Life”, office supplies, and prints. It’s working out almost as planned and I’m very pleased with it.

The busy packing and shipping room

The plan was to return from the US and complete the studio itself… but my desktop computer (in the old office) decided to cook a vital system file and denied me Internet access. I wasted two days trying too fix the fault , partially succeeding, and then decided it would be more productive to install myself in the new office. We already had a new computer in place but, as you’ll know if you’ve transferred the contents between computers, what seemed like a one day job has turned into a five day job!

As I write I have 95% of essential programs and files installed and working, so we’re back in business. That’s good, because today (July 6th) is the first day of my current 10-week online correspondence course at Incidentally there are places still available – just head over to and enrol.

Next I have to totally wipe the old computer and bring it back to life as our accounts machine, which my wife Jenny will be operating. And I have the positions and wiring of existing equipment to sort out, as I have had to install myself in the new office before everything was completely ready.

One half of the new office

Tomorrow I begin work on the studio itself – and I have a deadline of the end of August! We’re running the first 2-day workshop in the studio on September 17th-18th (details: currently half full) so it has to be ready! It’s a 20 feet by 22 feet room and all I have to do is………

The studio as it is today!

…….paste liner paper on the ceiling, prepare and paper all four walls, paint the ceiling, fit skirting boards, install the electrics and air conditioning… Ok, so this is going to take some time! I’ll post progress here as it happens – if only to make sure I’m ready on time. 🙂

New Studio update

Has it really been over a month since I last posted progress with the new studio? How time flies when there’s work to be done.

I have still to begin work in the studio itself, because the completion of the office and shipping room will enable me to move out of the house and continue with running the business.

All the lighting cables have been installed and the power ones too. The power is in two circuits, so we can shut down the computers from one switch without disturbing any items that need to be left running overnight. The strip lighting in both rooms has been completed, and feeds provided through to the studio. And I’ve finished the gloss painting in the office and the vinyl wall covering.

We made two good purchases: Jenny found a supply of excellent once-used office furniture and we bought three desks and two drawer units – all for the price of two new desks. And we found new, end-of-consignment, carpet tiles at a 60% discount!

All the desks needed to be drastically altered – narrowed by 7½ inches, new cables holes cut, and the legs repositioned. I omitted the modesty panels but, as they were a part of the strength of the legs, the tables are now bracketed to the walls. The panels will later be used for a floor-to-ceiling bookcase.

DVD editing station left and accounts at right

As yet we have no heating, although the cable trunking is ready to take the power to an HVAC unit. When it’s installed in the office, it will heat both rooms by way of a grill to be placed in the opening above the door. This unit will provide heating, ventilation, dehumidifying and air conditioning. And we need it as temperatures lately have been as low as -18°C overnight! Some days it’s just too cold to work in there.

General workstation, and DVD editing and accounts areas

Last night I fitted and painted the door to the office, so I can now close that room off and concentrate on completing the next room. I cleared the shipping and storage room of tools and, as soon as the air temperature warms a bit, I’ll begin by laying the flooring, for which we found a discounted end-of-roll sheet of vinyl. The steel racking has been delivered and I have one storage unit to build and a plan chest from the existing studio to alter and make into our packing table.

The emptied shipping room ready to be completed

Let’s hope the heating is delivered soon and I can fit it in sub-zero temperatures, and that I can post new progress quicker next time! 🙂

New Studio update

By now you must be thinking “No progress? Has Mike grown tired of it already?” Well, no. George the builder completed the shell and interior room dividers while I was running workshops in Oregon, California and Colorado – but there still remains much to do.

Exterior view
Completed building and new door
Security and storeroom doors

My first job was to fit the exterior door frame and security door outside of the inset glazed storeroom door, and paint it green. That accomplished, the plywood interior skin, ceilings and walls needed preparation and papering. In the meantime, the white protective tape has been removed from the brown window frames, which are white only on the inside.

The ceilings are being papered with heavy-duty liner paper to be emulsion painted later. This is the first time I’ve papered a ceiling, and I’m quite pleased with the result – but you’d better keep out of hearing range if you see me wrestling with the manic paper! The walls of the storeroom will also be painted, but the office and studio walls will be papered because, hopefully, that should give no indication of the surface behind it – and it should give us a much better working environment.

North east view with tape removed from window frames

The building itself, which currently has no form of heating, is proving to be well insulated – for both heat and sound. Even rain on the steel profile roof is only just audible.

At present I’m spending most afternoons working in the studio. In the evening, when required, I’m at, critiquing the work of artists attending my Novice correspondence course. And bringing my accounts up to date in between 🙂

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will have completed the papering of both the office and storeroom, completed the painting of the storeroom’s walls and maybe gloss painting the door frames.

Looking into office from storeroom

I’m able to do this because I’ve run a temporary power lead into the building for a light – usually used in my workshop when I’m welding. So the next project will be the installation of the permanent wiring for lighting, followed by the wiring for the power sockets and heating.

I’m undecided about heating. We sited the LPG gas tank near the studio so we could link up to it for central heating, but now I’m favouring an HVAC system. This combines Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning with a dehumidifying bonus. Two units should be sufficient, and that’s why I’ve omitted the wall panel above the office door – to allow heat to flow to both rooms from one unit.

I know watching me do this is like watching paint dry – literally! – so expect a welcome break before I post the next update. 🙂