This was an article for the Scrap and Stamp Magazine Arts January 2012 issue.

When Warren asked me if I'd be interested in writing an article about my stamping space, I was both flattered and honored but was also unsure about whether or not I'd be interested at this time. The reason being is that my stamping space, currently, is "incomplete". I do know what I want, however, and Warren just said, "put it in the article". Now, I don't "have to have" a specific and ideal area to work in, but it's certainly been a vision of mine to create a space to my specifications over the years. For years, off and on, my work area might have just been an 8 foot folding table with a couple swing arm lamps, and I was fine with that, but I'm getting closer to implementing some things that I've always wanted for a creative space.

When my wife and I moved to our current house, we designated our spaces. My art studio is about 11' x 16', and I haven't implemented them, but I have a lot of plans for the room. Currently, I just have some bookcases in there to hold some source books, art/stamping supplies, and other things. I'm looking at this space differently than how I used to see my work areas. I used to lay things out with the idea of the maximization of space. That certainly makes logical sense as what crafter can't use more space? But, the thing I finally learned with rooms is that the emotional quality of a space has to be in the equation if not at the forefront. If we don't feel good in an area, we're not going to want to be in there. I guess, you can call this the "Feng Shui" of your space? . Sometimes, you'll have to lose some workspace for the good of the overall.

I like an open yet cozy feel to rooms. This art room of mine doesn't have a lot of natural light, but I had French doors installed to give it as open a feel as possible. I plan to have some built-in cabinetry installed that can house my collection of books and supplies. I've always loved to browse bookstores --especially used bookstores for some reason-- and I just like the feeling of books in a space. I've been collecting a lot of source material on subjects that I've drawn and would like to draw, and I'm looking forward to organizing them with adequate shelf space. Going back to lighting, I think I'll have these shelf backings mirrored to reflect as much light back into the room as possible. Below these eventual shelves, I want cabinetry and a lot of it. Going back to my college days, I've collected a lot of art supplies which I don't always use, but I can't seem to get rid of them. There's always that thought that I might find an application for something, and I'll need a particular medium at that time. That sounds like the stance of a hoarder, but I'm not getting buried alive by media yet. I also want custom built-in drawers that can be removed to house my wood mounted stamps. Right now, my stamps are in acrylic frames and stacked up on the floor so every time, I stamp I have to un-stack them all.

There are so many pre-made organizational supplies now, and I definitely want to take advantage of them,but for the supplies that I use most often --various inks and stamps primarily-- I want to have these out, convenient, and visual. When I'm not using them, it would be nice to have them tucked away, but I feel that we soak things in visually. Then, somehow we organize them subconsciously when working so having the media out would be key for that. What I do in scenic stamping, it's not uncommon to use upwards of 8-12+stamps in one scene/card, and being able to see a selection of stamps as I compose a scene or as one develops can certainly help. I have an idea of the general theme of a scene, but I usually don't know all of the components that will go into it when I start putting those ideas on paper. Being flexible and open to compositional changes, I believe, will lead to potentially better results, and we'll learn more in the process. So I want things organized but not to the point where they're unseen.

When it comes to work ambience, I tend to like something on in the background while I work so I have a TV or stereo on, or oftentimes my laptop. It just depends on my mood as to which one I'll have on. If I need to concentrate on what I'm working on, I'll play music or some kind of podcast and, if it's a movie or TV, it will be something I've already seen so that I don't need to keep up with a developing storyline. Once in a while, I'll really want to tap into a "feeling" I'm trying to depict in a scene, and I'll set the music accordingly. Stamping by candlelight can even be fun at times. It's not the ideal optical light, but it's probably one of the better lightings for mood, right? You might call it "method stamping" [laughing]. Maybe this method would be for moody night scenes?

All of the above are my ideas for a rubber stamping area, but I also design stamps. When I'm doing that activity, you'll find me all over the house during that process and not necessarily in the studio. I'll probably be in front of a TV somewhere, and a lot of times, on the floor. Pen and ink stippling work can be tedious when fleshing in a design, and when I'm adding thousands of dots into the detailed sections of a design, the floor seems to keep me in the most ergonomic position for that. I'm slowly getting my backyard together, and I'd like to have a patio area that's conducive for designing. We live in Southern California; so we have quite a few months where the weather is great for outdoor life. Like things such as books in the studio, I've been planting the types of things that I enjoy in the garden. I like the illumination of late afternoon so I've been planting a lot of ornamental grasses where their flowering heads really start to glow in that light. I like the smell of herbs so there's a lot of sage, thyme, and rosemary varieties spread throughout the yard. Then, as soon as I can find one that I like, we'll have a fountain for the sound of trickling water.

So that's where things stand with my studio and where I plan on taking it. Sometimes I'm not sure if the most fun part about this is going to be when I have things finished or if it's in the planning and process of it all. It seems like most of us in the arts and crafts are always looking for or buying things, and whether we implement everything or not, we're trying to figure out how to organize it all. I take that to mean we enjoy it. What it seems to come down to is that we want an environment that's going to spark our creativity, and that's one where we've surrounded ourselves by the things that we love? I'm sure that can be the case when speaking about anyone, but I think it's especially so in this community of stamping and scrapbooking where an often significant part of our pastime is spent in something inherently creative.