Setting Up Shop: Refinishing A Vintage Rattan Settee for the Studio in Partnership with Patio Lane, Sunbrella and SilverState Fabrics
Some projects start out as a tiny spark, a flicker of an idea that probably makes no sense to anyone else, but that you can't shake. That's how this project started. I stumbled upon a vintage rattan settee two years ago for a steal. The catch, it was in poor condition, covered in mildew, and had a terribly cheesy cushion that was also covered in mildew. All I saw were great lines and potential! If only it was cleaned, stained, and had a brand new cushion it really could be a beauty! For $40 the settee came home with me and continued to poorly weather in the elements on my porch for two years. After moving into our studio space earlier this year I dreamt of finally tackling that piece and bringing it in to live at the studio. Below is the settee prior to any refinishing, looking back I'm surprised I saw the potential!
Click below to see the surprising before photos!
Setting Up Shop: Selecting Studio Furniture for a Messy Clay Studio with Patio Lane, Sunbrella, and SilverState Fabrics
Even before moving into our new studio I knew I wanted to have a designated area for meetings, casual sitting, and lounging in addition to the clay working area. The challenge was finding furniture suitable for the space that would not only look great, and be comfortable, but that could also take the unique beating that comes from a ceramic studio. Clay is messy! Whether it's the layers of porcelain dust that seem to accumulate overnight, or the wetter, splattery variety, clay gets everywhere in a studio so anything that comes into this space must be ready to stand up to those special challenges. I partnered with my friends over at Patio Lane to create a custom cushion for a vintage settee I'd been meaning to facelift and they joined forces with SilverState Fabrics to provide us with Sunbrella fabric that can stand up to just about anything!
I selected samples of Sunbrella indoor outdoor fabric from SilverState Fabrics, which promptly arrived. With samples in hand I began pulling together imagery for the overall look I want the studio lounge area to have. We already have a bold emerald velvet sofa and a blush pink wall, which put tropical vibes to the forefront of my mind. I selected a few greens, a bold black and white graphic pattern, and a woven linen-look gray.
Click below to see which fabric I picked for this custom bench and grab a coupon code!
I love a good ceramic glaze. Glossy, colorful, painterly glazes are what Suite One Studio is known for and I receive messages about my glazes almost daily! I don't share my formulas directly because I think the hunt for a good glaze is a huge part of the process, and I'm not ever going to suggest you skip the hard stuff by handing out the answers. The hard stuff is where the learning happens and that's how you develop real skills.
So nope, I'm not sharing my glazes here. But I am sharing my favorite resources for learning about glazes, some of the best places on the internet to track down formulas you can try, and my favorite tools to get the job done right-- and by that I mean practicing dust safety and making informed decisions about which materials to do a little extra research about before you bring them into your studio. -- Did you know lead was regularly used in glazes many decades ago? There are some other materials out there that you probably want to avoid and you'll learn all about them through the resources below. Ready the jump in? Click below!
Hiring My First Employee, Juggling Expansion in My First Studio, and How Intuit QuickBooks Helps Me Do It All!
Omg, so much change this year already! We moved into our first studio and now we've hired our first studio employee! Until now Kim and I handled all of the studio production, and you may remember my amazing sister, Lauren is part of the team over on the customer service side of things, but until now we've never had production help. What a game changer. Continuing my partnership with Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed this post highlights my process for taking these big growth steps through the use of their financial service, QuickBooks Self-Employed. This post is sponsored by Intuit Quickbooks and this is a product I actually use and love.
One of the biggest challenges for me during this year of growth has been well, the growth. Everything is changing. This transitional time comes with a lot a messy, non-instagrammable moments where my ideal scenario hasn't quite been figured out yet. Owning a small business is not about perfection. I've learned that for a business owner that ideal scenario can take a while to figure out and sometimes you simply have to adapt to the circumstances at hand while you grow!
Here's a perfect example of that: In my new studio we have separate work areas for each different process which is amazing. Such an upgrade! We have a slab-rolling room where all of our plates are made, a slip-casting area for our cast porcelain bowls, a glaze area, and a kiln room. But we don't have a dedicated area for me to throw on my pottery wheel. As you may know, throwing on the wheel is extremely messy! The wheel also needs a descent amount of space for the potter to work comfortably, and for these two reasons I haven't found the right spot for it at the new studio. In fact, I'm coming to terms with the fact that the right spot may not be in the studio at all. I want my team to have the most space possible to work and as I'm the only wheel thrower in the group right now I'm adapting to the idea that maybe my wheel continues to live at my house out in my garage.
It's not ideal to have my wheel in a separate location wedged between my waterheater and lawnmower, but it's reality! Look down at the bottom photo closely and you can see on the left edge of the frame the sensor and track for my automatic garage door! I'm pretty sure those are dried leaves on the floor in the corner that have blown in, and clearly I haven't finished painting out here. Let's not talk about the fact that I started painting these walls two years ago.
When I first started my business it wasn't even a business. I was a girl who bought a pottery wheel and plugged it into an outlet in the dining room of my tiny one bedroom apartment. Now I have a real business, I file legit grown-up taxes, set aside money for payroll, track my expenses, and use way more spreadsheets than I ever imagined possible. Oh, and I work in the studio still, making pottery from scratch with my hands. It can be a lot to juggle these diverse tasks. Delegation is key to growth, and that's why I love the passionate team I'm growing. I'm happy to sacrifice having my wheel at my new studio if it means that my team can work happily and comfortably while we grow!
Another part of my growth team is Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed! Their app is on my phone right next to the app that powers my online shop. I love that I have accounting tools literally at my fingertip! Whether I'm on the go, in the studio setting up a photoshoot or even throwing pots on my wheel, I have my phone with me (because Millennial) which means I have instant access to my Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed account to track expenses, monitor invoices, and even track the mileage I've driven for work trips (read about that favorite feature here!) so I can be sure to never miss a deductible.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I share with others about how I've been able to maintain business growth over the years is the importance of taking the time to learn about the financial health of your business. Knowing where my money is coming from and more importantly where it is going is the single factor that has powered me to grow through the years. The Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed app offers useful tools to dig into those details and to track the ongoing expenses a business has. The best part is that this app saves me time. I can track expenses on the go and get back to doing what I'm meant to do-- create lovingly handcrafted ceramics to make mealtimes beautiful.
Our new studio required a lot of imagination the first time we saw it. I always thought my first studio would be some gorgeous, recently converted industrial space with exposed brick, towering ceilings, and paint splattered, hundred year old hardwoods. Turns out our studio has none of those things.
To paint the picture-- before we moved in this space was a temporary office for a carpet steaming company. The unit sported generic details from floor to ceiling, except for the massive windows flanking the front and one side of the corner unit. Those windows let in floods of natural light and they're probably the only As-Is thing that sold us on the space when we agreed to lease it on an As-Is basis.
Snagging the space As-Is saved us on our monthly rent and offered us negotiating power to make the custom improvements ourselves. Would I recommend this? Meh. Maybe? Maybe not. On the one hand, it was nice to reduce our monthly rent but it was SO much work to bring the space up to our standards and we're still not completely done. Doing this again I'd probably make the same choice, but I'd adjust my expectations for how quickly we'd get the space up and running. So, learning curve there. It really took a solid 2 months and it was a hard two months juggling the studio production at our old space while setting up our new space.
One of the best and biggest projects we tackled was painting our linoleum floors. It was inexpensive and has completely changed the look of the space. The bright light that floods through the front windows now softly illuminates the entire space simply because the floors are a lighter gray color! And to my very happy surprise the painted linoleum is holding up great!
Click here for the Step by Step DIY directions for painting linoleum floor tiles!