Saturday, September 13, 2014



What is it about barns and lofts and spaces for creating. Whatever it is, I am completely captivated by it.

I've had my barn for quite a few years now ... it was originally built back when I was making steel outdoor garden sculpture. It seemed a better solution than to continue paying rent in a storage space ... which I did for years. The year I turned 50 and felt done with grinding and cutting steel, the barn became a storage area and stayed that way for a few years. Over time I began doing my work as a jeweler in the barn ... no heat ... no insulation. One winter I even set up my 10' x 10' show canopy in the barn and heated the space with a propane heater. I could raise the temperature a few degrees but overall it was not very successful. In the fall of 2010 my friend, Ron Myhre, a fine craftsman and builder of gypsy wagons and treehouses, helped me put in 2/3 of the loft. It was a vast improvement and I moved my jewelry making into this space. It was still unheated and uninsulated but it felt doable. There were some cold winters and some days when I could not force myself into the barn to work. Then in 2013 the sale of my family's pasture, back in Arkansas, gave me the means to continue working on the barn. It was manna from heaven and felt so appropriate that the proceeds from the sale of that pasture ... the same pasture where, as kids, we rode horses ... would now help me improve my barn. Ron and I started working on the loft again that fall.

My goal was to have an insulated and heated workspace and also open up the possibility of teaching some workshops. I've also wanted to live in a barn my entire life .... so maybe I would include a space where that could be possible one day. There is still a bit to be done....the floors need to be stained ... and some trim put up .... a little more paint here and there ....and the entire downstairs is yet to be insulated ... but for the most part the loft is ready. Now it's time to create ... and dream up new art projects .... and to revel in the privilege of getting to hang out in this incredible space ... I feel so lucky. I've even been sleeping in the loft since the night of August 22. I love it ... the morning light streaming through the windows and casting shadows on the opposite wall ... the vaulted corrugated ceiling ... the feeling of being in a treehouse up level with the leaves .... what's not to love?

The barn footprint is 24' x 30' and the loft measures 16' x 30'.

So here are some images of the loft project in process and the finished space. Remember you can click on any image to enlarge.

Here you can see the beginning of framing in the jewelry studio....the south facing 1/3 of the loft.

These are the stairs leading up and the north facing end wall.

Ron hanging the sliding barn doors that separate the jewelry studio from the rest of the loft. This makes it possible to only have to heat the area I'm working in. I am heating the jewelry studio space with a Dickinson Marine propane boat heater....the P12000 ... made to heat up to a 36' boat.

Lots of chaos with several ladders, extension cords, and saw dust.

The last panel of galvanized corrugated ceiling goes up in the jewelry studio. This metal, when new, is too bright and shiny for my tastes so I treated each piece with apple cider vinegar and a 3M scrubbie pad ... and a lot of elbow grease to tone down the shine.

The triangle above the sliding doors is made up of salvaged windows ... all different styles and types. A few of these windows I have carried around with me for years waiting for a chance to use them. The sections without windows will eventually be filled in with glass. The big center window opens so I can have some cross ventilation in the summer.

By the time we got to the center section I was able to borrow some scaffolding from my friend, Chuck Iffland ... a remarkable artist and sculptor. The scaffolding made the ceiling sooooo much easier,

This is the beginning of the chevron wall on the north side. The step through window will eventually lead to a small deck up high on the same level with the leaves of a big leaf maple and a view of a wonderful forest. Eventually there might be a screened in porch section where I could sleep in the summer.

The north end finally gets it's ceiling.

Many times Ron had to use his climbing gear to get on the roof. Eventually there will be a cupola with a window on each side.

This is the finished product looking south toward the jewelry studio. The center 1/3rd of the loft will be about book arts ... a place to print and assemble ... a slightly cleaner section than the jewelry studio.

My pencil sharpener and vintage toy truck collection in one of the leaded glass windows.

Heaven on earth!

A great cabinet for holding all my paper goods.

This is the trap door leading downstairs ...with hand rails attached. Eventually there will be a railing around the opening. This door is a heavy sucker and I still have to work out a system of compound pulleys or a counter-weight for raising and lowering it.

I love these vintage enamel warehouse lights ... they really finish off the look I was going for.

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