tips-storage-fritOne problem with being addicted to creating glass art is that it’s not exactly a compact hobby. Coldworking equipment (grinders, laps, rociprolaps, saws, etc) take up considerable space and create a lot of mess, kilns also require some space, and you need somewhere to store extra sheet and frit glass, molds, mold-making materials and supplies, kiln furniture, tubs of abrasive and polishing media, grinder belts, and so on and so on and so on.

And that’s just the “messy” stuff, in my case, the stuff that goes in my garage. I promised myself I’d only use HALF the garage and the car could keep the other half, but lately the glass has established squatter’s rights on the automotive side and I think I’m about to have a nice big coldworking and firing shop with a car parked in the driveway. I’d show you a picture of my setup out there–it’s actually quite usable–but it’s embarrassingly messy right now.

My working studio is inside the house, and it’s taken me about three years to get it the way I want it. It’s not large, and I still have stuff to do (like fix the lighting and add some sample racks), but it’s extremely functional for what I enjoy doing.

SheetglassstorageThe big problem with glass is that it’s heavy, fragile and potentially dangerous. It’s also bulky, and once you cut it you wind up with a lot of perfectly good scrap that needs to be sorted and saved (unless you’re a zillionaire and don’t care if you throw out hundreds of dollars worth of perfectly good glass).

I also need to be able to see it so I (a) know I have it and don’t waste money on duplicates and (b) can see it when I’m picking out a color or texture and mulling over combinations.

So over the years I’ve developed a storage system that works for me. I keep full sheets (which in Bullseyespeak means sheets about 20×35 to 24X72) of clear and neutral-colored glasses in racks in the garage. I don’t need to see the colors so I used the cheapest wood bins I can find.

I cut the colored sheets in half and store them in the studio, in a clear acrylic bin with dividers that the local TAP Plastics made for me.

I’ve got carpet on the bottom of each compartment to cushion the glass and make it easy to slide, and the fact that they’re clear makes it both safer (if you’ve ever reached into a wooden bin and been surprised by a sharp scrap of glass you’ll know what I mean) and easier to see.

StudioStorageCabinetsI have a limited space for full sheets inside, generally whatever I need for the project I’m working on right now. I put 8×10 sheets into acrylic magazine cases, organized by color. Small scrap (usually less than 3×3) is also organized by color in small acrylic drawers that rest on the sheet bin.

Larger scraps of clear, black and white are stored in see-through rubbermaid bins (I think they’re originally sheet cake bins) on a shelf. The same shelving system also holds the essentials (tunes), my project and class notes, drawing papers, and BE sample books. It’s a LOT in a relatively small area, about 48″ x 24″ X 90.”

I keep larger colored scrap and leftover glass strips in bigger acrylic drawers on top of base cabinets–they’ll hold up to an 8×10 sheet if I need them to, also divided by color.
The base cabinets also hold my portable photo studio, clays, metals and other supplies and tools.

StudioCuttingAreaI cut glass in the third corner of the room, and that’s where I also store templates, drawings and patterns for past projects that I might want to revive sometime.

The cutting table also holds stringer and some rod (which isn’t ideal and I’m trying to figure out a way to mount tubes of stringer on the wall). The cabinets above the cutting table hold chemicals and more delicate equipment, such as scales and circle cutters.

I stick casting billet samples, which I don’t need very often, on top of the cabinets.
I got really really tired of storing frit in those cabinets. They were stacked on top of each other, which meant I had to move a lot of jars around to find the ones I wanted. I therefore tended to drag 20 or 30 jars onto my worktable, leaving me no room to work and making cleanup a pain.

Worse, having all those jars on the table increased the possibility that I’d accidentally contaminate one color with another (which ruins an $80 jar of frit). So I hunted around for several months until I found a better solution.

StudioWorkAreaI bought 2 media racks, used by video production studios. They’re really shallow (essential in a small studio), hug the wall and because they’re sized for CDs which are about the same dimensions as a couple jars of frit, they are ideal for frit storage.

They’re also very strong. They hold 1- and 5-lb jars of frit. I keep the larger (40lb) containers of frit, primarily clear/white, out in the garage.

Now I can sit at the drafting table and easily reach any tips-storage-frit-featurecolor I want, use it and put it back–it’s dramatically reduced clutter and cleanup time. I have a cheap little rolling cart that holds bigger pieces of black, clear and white scrap.

I put a couple of pieces of scrap granite tile on top and they hold my brushes, dental and clay tools, and pencils/pens. A small pegboard holds all the other tools, masks, etc., that I need.

And that’s pretty much the whole studio. It ain’t grand, but it’s home.