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

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. 🙂

My New Studio – Week 9

George arrived, as promised, with his helper Roger, to begin erecting the studio…and within minutes the first section was upright.

The first section erected

A quick cup of super-fuel (coffee!) and there was no stopping them.
More sections erected

I couldn’t believe how fast my studio was growing!
...and more sections

Three hours and it's amost up!

And before lunch it was looking like a studio!
All walls erected

The previous Wednesday, as I was in the lane walking the dogs, I was accosted by a driver (no vehicle in sight) who was delivering the roof trusses. The suppliers had sent him to us with an artic (semi-trailer) which couldn’t negotiate the final bend in the lane. With promises to return the next day with a rigid truck… we never saw them again! Fortunately, this is a common problem for George, our builder, and he soon had them racing out to us again and the job could proceed.

George worked hard for the rest of the day and by the time he left the empty shell was beginning to look like a building. I’m glad I chose to have an eight feet high ceiling – standing in the shell it didn’t feel at all oppressive.

As seen from our house


George offered me a deal. He couldn’t find anyone to hire to help him install the plywood ceiling, so if I’d help, he’d return the favour by helping me with the floor and its insulation. That’s a job I knew would take me far longer without George’s knowledge, so I readily agreed. And, as a bonus, I’m now totally sold on compressed air nail guns! What a machine!
Half the ceiling completed - enough for today!

By four o’clock we had half the ceiling completed. The sky looked heavy with rain so, rather than risk a downpour overnight, George worked on into the evening installing the roof insulation and the metal box-profile panels over the completed half.
Beginning the roof insulation and covering

We have 6″ of Rockwool insulation over the ceiling, 4″ in the walls and, as you will see, 4″ of polystyrene insulation beneath the floor. As wood is itself an excellent insulator, and all potential draughty gaps will be filled with foam, this should be a warm and economical space to heat.

That morning George had the windows and doors delivered and he found time to fit the first two.

At the end of the day

Work on the floor began. I had visions of 4″x2″ bearers, packed between with rockwool, and then having to nail down tongue and grooved chipboard. But the expert came up with a far better and faster solution… T&G Chipboard but glued together and laid directly over 4″ of polystyrene insulation. We had the studio area covered in no time at all, and then half of the office and storeroom end, leaving a gap where we could build the dividing wall.
Insulating and fitting the floor

George began work on the partitioning wall and installed it.
Building and installing the room partition

This wall divides the studio from the office and storage/shipping rooms. George was going to build the partition between those two rooms and complete the flooring today… but he was urgently called away to another job and promised to return later this afternoon…
Looking from the studio through the storage and shipping room

…but he’s not back here yet and that’s as far as we’ve got right up to date. It’s been an eventful but very rewarding week!
The studio on Satuday evening