: Michelle Jewell of Finkelstein's CenterLocation:
Charleston, South Carolina
650 square feet
When you first glimpse one of Michelle's quirky little "creatures" — as she lovingly calls them — there's no question this artist/toymaker/all around awesome gal is bursting at the seams (pun intended) with creativity. So it's no surprise that the studio where she makes these one-of-a-kind (and often custom-made) stuffed buddies is equally quirky and inspiring. Does creating, making, and playing with toys all day in a vintage-meets-industrial studio sound like a dream come true? Just wait till you see the space...
Finkelstein's studio, inspired by a banner Michelle hand stitched and by the creatures themselves, is a vintage-lover's dream, filled with Michelle's found objects, DIYs, and thrifty buys. Its industrial minimalism shows off the age and charm of the building (an old factory that also currently houses a candle factory—her downstairs neighbor!) while letting the playful and bright colors of the creatures and their fabrics be the focal point of the room. That is, if the amazing wall of doors hiding the team's storage, and the massive octopus, Barnum, don't steal the show.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My studio is in a warehouse, an old rug cleaning factory, which
is what attracted me to the space to begin with. I love the design elements
that warehouses have to offer, like exposed brick, dark wood floors, and
industrial hardware. I tried to lighten the space with a bright color palette for the doors and a vintage floral sofa. There are also lots of stuffed
creatures everywhere, so that helps too.
The studio colors were inspired by a retired Finkelstein's
Center banner I now use as the center piece on the production wall. It is
entirely hand stitched and took me weeks to make, so while it is no longer a
part of my market display, it has a permanent home in the studio.
Element: The door to the rooftop garden.
Challenge: No heating and, more importantly in Charleston, no air
Friends Say: It smells so good (I'm in a building with a candle factory). And
they ask if they can come drink on the roof.
Embarrassment: I still do not have a decent product photography setup for
photographing my creatures. I was a professional photographer for three years, and
quality photos are so important to me, but I have not yet invested time in a
proper set. I'm still rolling out paper and holding a reflector and taking
iPhone photos in between gusts of wind. It's embarrassing.
DIY: The studio's proudest DIY I actually can not take credit
for. I have three 4x8 work tables that my husband, Ryan, built. I
knew what I wanted and had very specific requirements for them. Number one,
they had to be big. At times we have three people in the studio working on
projects at once, and we all need our own spaces to spread out in. The tables
also had to have a smooth surface so as not to damage or pick the fabrics I
work with; we went with masonite. Lastly, I really wanted them to be on rolling
casters. For large projects it's very helpful to be able to roll the tables out
from the walls and have access to all four sides. He built them to all my
requests, and they are also really nice to look at.
Indulgence: Space! We have lots of space, and we feel lucky.
Advice: Invest in music for your space. Don't just blare your
phone speakers from your back pocket all day (of which I have been guilty in
the past) — buy nice speakers and, while it sounds obvious, spend a little time
on a 'work' playlist. Music helps set the energy level and mindset I'm in, so
it's important to my creative process. A playlist also means you’re not distracted
by thumbs-downing or nexting songs all day like you would with Internet radio.
Sources: The Government Surplus, Etsy, the wood section of the home
Resources of Note:
- vintage wooden card catalog (state auction)- $50
- found door storage build out- $70
- antique sofa (Sustainable Warehouse)- $25
- two 4' x 16' schoolhouse chalkboards (state auction)- $40
- DIY work tables on casters- $225
- antique lamp shades (yard sale find)- $15
- vintage rolling chairs (state auction) - $50
- found file cabinets (thrift store)- $15
- ottoman/octopus stand (Urban Outfitters)
- vintage wooden crate DIY coffee stand (thrift store/ handmade)-
- singer sewing machines
- Apple MacBook Pro
- Canon D60
Thanks, Michelle! (Readers, since this tour was created, Michelle has actually moved into a new space. We can't wait to see what fun new things the new studio has in store! Stay tuned.)
(Images: Rebekah Collinsworth Photography & Sea Star Arts)
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