Studio Organization Update – The Mosaics Cupboards

As promised, I have started the great studio renovation of 2012. I spent a lot of time evaluating how I work best and what I wanted out of a dream workspace. I realized that about 70% of the storage is taken up by mosaic supplies, but 70% of the projects are jewelry & paper. So, I am trying to make the studio more conducive to jewelry and paper projects.

Project #1: The Mosaics Cupboard

When we built my studio seven years ago, we installed used kitchen cabinets purchased from a recycled building materials store. Then I proceeded to stack tons and tons of plates in these cabinets for ‘future projects’. I realized when I start a new mosaics project, I don’t want to spend time cutting plates into tiles, I want to just open a box of pieces and get started. So, I spend $14 at the dollar store and got plastic bins to store shards and pieces. I don’t know if I would trust liquids in these bins, but they work great for storage! I also downloaded these labels from Cathe Holden and printed them on full-sheet label paper. I have made the conscious decision to hand write the labels to save time–even though my precious Brother P-Touch is fab, I need to move forward, rather than take the time to type and print, etc. etc.

Display of the glorious promise of organization, peace and harmony that will soon reign in CarrieTown. The can of Spam is actually a novelty bank, not food product.

However, getting to that place requires lots of sorting, sorting, sorting…..

This is the first of many donations piles. Many items will go back to the thrift store from whence they came.

More bins with labels…and a bored Bobby in the background.

The next steps will be to organize the bins and to continue to discard unrealistic plates–those plates that are heavy ceramic which are hard to cut by hand, or ugly plates which will never become mosaic projects. I am also going to consolidate all the mosaics storage to these two cupboards which will leave the open shelves for more attractive storage.


I have winnowed the mosaics supplies down to one cupboard. The future projects & tools are on the slide-out shelves, and the boxes of tiles are below. There are still a couple of large bins of plates hanging around, but I have stored them in the garage portion of the studio. For the most part, however, I have managed to donate 7 boxes of usable plates to the local thrift store. When I do a mosaics project, I can go here and find exactly what I need.


The Chaotic CarrieTown Studio – Reality Check

This post is the first in the Great CarrieTown Studio Cleanup Series of 2012:
I spend a lot of my free time browsing photos of slick, well organized craft spaces. I have even devoted an entire Pinterest board to this obsession. I dream of being able to waltz into my well-lit immaculate space, sit down, listen to classical music and finally create that masterpiece the world has been waiting for.

The reality is a little more cluttered. I am very lucky to have a craft space. I converted half of my two car garage into a sunny space where I can create my artwork and jewelry and any other messy project I may want to attempt. This year I added a DVR, and it is usually stocked with classic commercial free films and favorite TV shows. I even have a dedicated speaker station so I can plug in my iPad and listen to podcasts.

It is a very creative space, but lately I have been re-evaluating storage. I tend to forget about things unless I can see them in front of my face, which means that everything is visible. Want proof or the chaos, just check out these pics:

As you can see, chaos reigns over CarrieTown. The lower cabinets are filled with entire sets of plates used for Mosaics projects. Since I mostly work on paper crafts and jewelry, I would like to reduce the amount of mosaics supplies and utilize this space more efficiently for shop supplies, tools, and other items that need new homes.

This is the jewelry workspace. As you can see, most of the storage is on the surface, which limits the amount of space I have to work & create. I would also like to get rid of the clear drawers because they don’t work very well.

This is where I do most of my paper crafts…as you can obviously see. I need to find a new way to store all those little scraps of paper that can be used for future projects.

The desk from the back. I can’t believe I actually get any work done here. Wish me luck as I move forward with my organization project. The organization of CarrieTown is an ongoing project, but I thought I would start with the absolute messiest photos so the after pics would look more impressive. Mission Accomplished for messiest photos!

Mosaic Address Panels

This summer I undertook the largest mosaic project I have ever attempted. Last year my parents built a new front porch for my little brick house, and this year I wanted to continue to work on the home’s curb appeal. My front door is painted a pretty British racing green with matching wooden screen door, so I wanted something to flank both sides while displaying the address numbers.

Inspired by the craftsman designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, I first sketched out the design on graph paper, and then converted that to Excel spreadsheet to create an installation guide.

My original plan was to make the panels flank both sides of the door and go all the way to the ground. After realizing that the cement backerboard came in 3×5′ sheets, I redesigned each panel to be 1.5×5″.

I ordered whole sheets of 3/4″ tiles in the Kaleidoscope Color Grove Glass Mosaic series from Mosaic Tile Supplies. I chose the colors, Flax as the background, with accents of Lipstick, Caramel, Stratosphere and Portland.

Once the sheets arrived, I flipped the Excel image because the tiles arrived on face-mounted sheets, meaning that I would be working on the sheets from the back. I cut out the tiles from the Flax sheets, and then replaced them with the other colored tiles, using masking tape to piece the squares back together. So, basically I was creating large quilts of tiles. I then applied tile mastic to the backerboard and applied the tile squares to the board, leaving a two-inch border for the MDF trim. Once the tile adhesive dried for 24 hours, I then removed the paper cover soaking the paper and carefully removing the tape and paper. I then grouted the panels.

The hardest part of the process was drilling into the bricks on the house. My father was generous enough to assist in this process. He installed screw anchors and then was able to screw the panels directly onto the wall. He then covered the screws and raw backerboard with MDF trim painted to match the house paint.

Here are the final photos of the panels on the house.