Thursday, July 30, 2015

How does your workspace inspire you?

Etsy shop workspaces: FreshRetroGallery interior design

Drawing room, photography studio, storage/shipping: places I work to design, create, list and send handmade, art supply, vintage items worldwide.

The search for inspiration on how to layout a creative workplace can be found in the spaces of Etsy sellers. Etsy Success blog asked a question, “Where do you go to design and make? Share your creative space—invite us in by posting a photo on your favorite social media channel with the hashtag #inspiringworkspaces.”

Artists have a way about seeing beauty in everything. 

My inspiration comes from exploring nature, exercise, reading, music, surfing the net, traveling, worship and other life experiences. My children Nathan and Laura inspire me. I collect sentimental things from my family as well as found objects for someday when I’ll make mixed media art. My creative mind works overtime and I often wake up dreaming about something to improve, do, draw or write about. My husband Stan is artistic, too, and also a vintage treasure hunter. He likes to clean up old things.

There’s a story behind almost everything in my home, so I’ll add a few to explain the pictures. In two of the photos, look for the beautiful Jesus with a flock of sheep picture by Giovanni titled Der Gute Hirte (German for The Good Shepherd). You might notice the cross in more than one photo because there’s one in almost every room in my home to remind me and everyone who comes here of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection—God’s grace by this sacrifice to atone for my sin. By the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith through baptism and hearing the Word, He comforts, guides and protects me and all who believe and, ultimately, promises eternal life.

I didn’t spend time cleaning, rearranging or staging this series of images, so things aren’t picture perfect. I could have made an attempt, but time is precious. Enjoy the tour. Welcome to my Etsy shop space!

rubber stamp wall cabinet and drafting table
Here’s my drafting table and chair draped with a soft, fuzzy fur Nathan gave me—besides art, this is where I pay the bills and balance the books. We went out for lunch Mother’s Day to Panda Kitchen Chinese Restaurant and the waitress gave me the big pink paper flower. Notice the giant red pencil sticking out of a roto tray cabinet? I collect pencils. I designed and built the oak wall cabinet with sliding glass doors at an adult woodworking class to display my rubber stamps.
Drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas.
The drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas. My dad made the iron plant holder on the wall which I use to hold some of my good junk. You might notice the wire racks holding all kinds of keepsakes including an “Uff da!” napkin I’ve had for a long time. Far left, you can see a sliver of an oak chifforobe wardrobe closet. I keep my cross country ski boots in one of the drawers and a lot of paper and art supplies on the shelves in that cabinet.
wood file cabinets and rubber stamps
I inherited my mom’s rubber stamps, displayed on shelves Nathan built below the covered fuse box. Stan refinished two antique wood file cabinets which work great to store and organize many things. Do you wonder what is in one of the drawers? Visit the post How to organize an artist file system, upcycle cards and reap benefits of a creative life. The bark cloth draped over the cabinet is a curtain from early days of childhood. I stack up the stuff… a Pepsi bottle full of sand collected from the Pacific Northwest, a funny Dilbert cartoon, a flexible lamp for extra light, framed quotes, gifts, photos and another miniature 2-drawer file cabinet on top of the legal 5-drawer.
wall storage and shelving under the stairway
A friend Scott built this wall and shelving under the stairway. Stan and I built the decorative shelf with iron hooks which hold my hand bags, totes and purses. We offer hook racks in the Gallery. On the table in the foreground, the little yellow crib toy saved from childhood, re-purposed as a container for gel pens. Wow, this image needs work—what a clutter mess!

Etsy photo studio with manniquin
Here’s my Etsy photo studio with an old mannequin. Stan did body work plastic surgery, gave her a spray tan and I painted her face. A friend Kathy had a wig for her. I hope to add more vintage clothing pieces and accessories to the shop soon. Stan made the hinged rod hardware which allows for the curtains I made to swivel open and shut. Our neighbor Ginger, a professional drapery designer/maker, gave me the idea. It works well for windows that open inward at the top and also like a door, for safety, to get out in case of fire. Sometimes I stand on the upside-down plastic crate to get a higher angle on the photography. To get a bird’s eye view, I climb the stool or stand on a chair.
photography light box and manikin
On the left is my photography light box on top of an old kitchen table. I made this white container out of large sheets of tag board paper stock which originally was packaging to protect printing plates during transportation. The manikin lady is good company. She never questions my ideas of how to do things and doesn’t rush or demand too much of me.
photography light box set up to shoot vintage and handmade Etsy items
In the upper right area of this photo, you see a decorative iron porch or carport post which holds one of three light strips. The yellow stand is from a halogen light Stan wasn’t using in the garage. Since halogen lights are hot, we replaced it with a daylight florescent bulb strip. The other light strip on the tripod in the foreground gets moved around quite often. The three fixtures hold a total of 10 bulbs. When timing is perfect, I can use natural daylight from the window.
The antique iron bed frame came out of storage in a barn from a farm nearby. I found the cotton crocheted rug at a garage sale. See the vintage mint green box fan tucked behind the stool? It’s handy to have in case of an AC malfunction. A few items waiting to be shot sit on the extra old chairs. Formerly Laura’s room, this now doubles as a second guest room. Big sheets of white tag board and thin packing material are tucked underneath the bed.
boom box, portable TV, oak school desk chair, Victorian dresser
Some of Laura’s artwork and memorabilia decorates the walls. My 1980s boom box rests on the Victorian walnut dresser we bought at an auction. A vintage portable TV sits on an oak school desk chair. Beyond the door on the wall hangs a beautiful antique quilt I found at a flea market.
apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers
At left is shelving for boxes I recycle to send orders. The old treadmill never gets used because it’s covered with vintage items waiting to be photographed. There’s a map of the United States on the wall and Kansas is smack dab in the center. Stacks of old catalogs, books, hats, clocks and you name it will eventually make it to the store front. Stan refinished the antique apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers that came from friends Robert and Robin.
Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art
A sneak peek at vintage items to be photographed, described and added to the gallery, now rest on the old treadmill. Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art, and more.
Cameras, frames, pottery and other vintage items in storage on top of an old cherry wood dresser.
old frames and brass metal art
Stacks of old frames waiting to be filled with new art are stored in front and on top of the partially hidden coffee table Nathan built. You can’t see them well, but I use old wooden auditorium foldable seating for shelving which lines part of two walls in this room. Some of our wine bottle metal art pieces are shown here. A collection of vintage children’s picture books are in the shelving in the background.
Here’s a box of my 19" x 13" family tree charts waiting to find new homes.
My sewing machine served its first purpose years ago when I created many garments documented for 4-H projects. The wonderful creative tool taught me about design—choosing patterns/fabrics—and how to custom tailor my own garments. On the wall is a clock Laura made with her dad’s help, using markers, silver paint and the lid of a number 10 envelope box. My family tree chart is hung with miscellaneous keepsakes and a couple original paintings titled Resurrection and Peaceful Energy available in the shop.
family tree chart on sewing machine
Family tree charts are ready to be rolled with patch paper, tag; inserted into a tube, labeled and shipped. The workspace is an oak sewing machine cabinet that belonged to Stan’s grandma.
Here you can see my antique retail store glass counter case cabinet complete with Pictionary, two barrels full of monkeys, Jenga and many other games and puzzles. It’s the perfect surface for a large paper cutter I use to make the gift tags that go with each item I send out. It’s space for stereo equipment, a few of my dad’s horseshoe trophies and an antique fan to keep me cool. Against the wall is a cabinet for fabric and craft supplies with a globe, some cobalt blue glass pieces and a vintage goose-neck desk lamp. In front of the cabinet is my NordicTrack stepper where I workout, read, and listen to music. The rough looking furniture hasn’t been touched yet by Stan’s skillful refinishing capabilities.

We’ve lived in this home since 1987. We added-on in 1996 (the addition doesn’t show in this photo—it’s behind the original house you see here). All of the images in this post are taken in the basement where working in a chaotic atmosphere makes sense. We are careful to keep the main floor living space tastefully calm—decorated in eclectic style with an artistic flair. The young tree in the foreground is a cutleaf weeping birch. The shrubs are overgrown—time to do some major trimming!

Monday–Friday, FreshRetroGallery packages are picked up by our USPS mailman when he makes deliveries at our jumbo-large-huge mailbox. I sketched the design for Stan to build this structure out of a salvaged decorative porch post. After painting the faux vintage patina grunge texture, I hand lettered and embellished it with sign paint before he installed it.
Thank you for visiting my workspace.
I look forward to listing some wonderful new items soon.
Please click in to browse in my Etsy storefront!

Note: Many of these photos are obsolete as of 2017. I’ve updated, organized with new shelving, painted paneling, and trimmed the shrubbery! Improving efficiency and aesthetics of my work and living spaces is an enjoyable aspect of my job. Change is good!

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