January 14, 2006

After all these years of dreaming about a studio is a reality. I have, sorted, filed, folded, boxed, edited, moved furniture around and it is wonderful.
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After a whole year of planning and drawing up the plans... We arranged in April to have shrubs, trees and an old shed moved in the back yard.
We hired our good friend and contractor extraordinair Tom Lessar to start the project and left for our trip to France. We had a marvelous time and the three weeks whizzed by. But we were also anxious to get home to see the progress of the studio.
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Imagine our dismay when all we had was a giant hole in the ground! There was a huge pile of dirt piled in the alley and no building materials to be seen.

Due to an incompetant building inspector our building permit could not be filed and there was a problem with elevation and the cement floor I wanted. After much hair pulling and knashing of teeth we finally got started mid June.

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Phil Chambers, our good friend, close neighbour and the best carpenter in the valley agreed to be in charge and we were off. Phil built our office/garden shed the previous summer and we were thrilled with the results.
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Everyday was like a miracle. Before we knew it the walls and the roof were on. Two other capenters John and Richard worked with Phil and it was really nice to hear the music and the laughter and bantering that went on...That's Richard in the small photo and Phil in the large one on the right.

The cement people had been very prompt about getting the supports in. We had a 4.5' high foot crawl space under the whole building. This came in handy for the plumbing and heating crews. (it is a God send for me!)

The frame work and the roof struts went up in an amazing four days and we could finally see the outline. Before we knew it the roof was covered with tar paper and the barn tin was put in place.
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Next the cement crew came back to put in the long narrow porch floor. They had to work very early in the morning due to the heat. Once the cement dried the porch and supports were put in place. Tar paper and chicken wire was added to the outside walls, ready for the first layer of stucco. We decided to go with an acrylic stucco finish because of the low maintenance and the cost. I am very pleased with the results and the only thing needing painting on the out side are the window trims and the porch supports.
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While the stucco was drying the men moved inside with the insulation process and very soon the sheetrock was in place. It was beginning to look like a traditional adobe farm house.

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The electricians came in to run all the wires and decisions had to be made. I arranged for the sewing machine plug-ins to be put in the ceiling. I have tripped over one to many cords in my teaching career!!

Thanks to Richard, the sheetrock was floated and finished in record time and the men were able to get to the painting. That is John on the right.
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Finally it was my turn to start painting. I had purchased raw pigments in the village of Russion, France and was anxious to try them. Every room involved three layers of pigment and glaze!! It never occured to me that my shoulders would not survive the process. The results were well worth the work and you really do need several layers! The men were very relieved when I finished because I wore the same sweatsuit for twelve very long days.....
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Outside, the stucco team was back to put on the final layer. What a mess..the colour was not right and after a temper tantrum by a wee little man and much bullying...I held my ground. Turned out it was the fault of the stucco paint company. It is now a deep terracotta and once the provence blue shutters go will be exactly what I wanted.
I returned to my painting and the landscaping was started in the yard.
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The gravel and some very large boulders went in. Next the fence was straightend in the back and a new fence addition went in along with gates and arbours. It has always been my dream to have a compound where I can live and work...It is now a reality!!

Last but not least Nancy Cox and her son Thadius from Whispering Oaks continued on and put in several more large boulders and all the stepping stones, plus gravel to finish off the yard.(That's her and the crew on the left) It looks so good.
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We found all kinds of extra plants in our garden and filled in around the new building. Over sixty varieties of iris were added to the studio-guesthouse gardens. Next a fence came down and the gardens were joined together. Ernest planted lots of blue flowering plants and even put in grapevines for the front porch. So the studio/guesthouse is now complete and the three men built it in a record forty one days.
We started moving in on the 5th of September and it was quite an ordeal. What a shock when I started to unpack!! I found things I don't remember having and things I do not need! The sorting and placement took over one month. I now know where everything is right down to the smallest button.


All I can say is....... "DREAMS DO COME TRUE!"
I plan to hold five day classes and will limit the classes to six students at a time. The first one is set for July 2006.
Click here if you are interested.
STUDIO TOUR..........
The studio sits on the south west corner of our yard and butts up to the alley where the studio parking lot is situated. Visiters can enter through the side gate and walk right into the studio!

If you are new to La are the directions. Drive down Main Street until you reach Virginia Street. There is a large adobe church with a bell tower on the left side. Drive past the church and enter the one-way alley on your left and drive down untill you see the school play ground on your right. We are directly across. You will see the sign on the building which says JUDITH BAKER MONTANO -STUDIO- JUDITH DESIGNS. Enter through the arboured gate on the right.......
The studio guesthouse is a replica of a northern New Mexico farm house with a touch of the carribean and the south of France thrown in for good measure!! The studio occupies one half of the building and can be entered through the double french doors on the left.
The photo on the left is a view from our porch.....I just walk through the garden... a few pauses to smell the roses plus sixty steps and I am at work!!

The entrance to the studio is my pride and joy. The work area is blocked from view by a large english sideboard from my fathers' ranch along with a beautiful old stained glass window. As you come around to the left you can see the whole studio. It is compact and very organized. Here you can see right through to the back yard which is a good spot for dye work and batiking. It even has a clothes line plus a big rock to sit on! The storage racks on the left will hold up to six hundred pounds and roll easily. The Cupboard and sink area is in the far right corner and hold all the paints, dyes and bead supplies. There is a desk beside the work table which can be moved to accomodate another table.

Off to the right is the thread wall which is really a rolling double barn door. This slides back and forth to close off the hallway to the guesthouse area. The threadwall rolls back and forth and when it is closed it reveals the corkboard planning wall. The hall way to the left leads to the washroom and into the the guesthouse kitchen.



The next view looks from the right across the work table and to the rolling racks and back closet which stores art to wear garments. The high three windows on the south side offer excellent light and the over head lights are all colour correct for even more colour accuracy. To the left is the sink area and it is fabulous. The dresser to the right holds silk ribbon and threads. It came out of our bathroom in Los Angeles and is getting much better use here!

The whole building has nine foot seems much more spacious than it is...A little secret I picked up from watching too many design t.v. shows!

The studio washroom is known as the reading room because one wall contains a very big book shelf holding some of my art books....and oh yes there is a cubby-hole shelf for extra yarn. I plan to add more shelves as time goes by.

Just outside of the washroom is an alcove to hold a stacked washer-dryer. Right now it is holding two rolling racks of laces, ribbons and materials. I found the racks at a big discount store and I think they are usually used for restaurants.



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The guesthouse is a separate unit from the studio and can be locked off. It is also on a second heat unit. The kitchen and the living room is one big room and very cozy. The walls are all painted with the ochres and pigments from Roussion. (The turquoise is obtained by heating the pigments.) The large english wardrobe houses books, sterio and television set.
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The bathroom is my favorite room because of the walls!! I used a terracotta coloured paint for the first layer. Next I rubbed on the red ochre pigment floated in a glaze and the final coat is a copper paint, squirted on with a spray bottle. They were finished with a final clear glaze to make them more durable. The sinks in both bathrooms are from Mexico and I love them! The cheerful colours are very compatable. Purple and red really can go together....

All the doors and trim are natural pine. The closets are all loaded with ample shelves. I love to roll the thread wall back because it makes the whole building look so spacious and the tile floor pulls it all together. While I could not have my cement floor, I feel the Quickstep tile floor is even better. It took only two days to put in place. it was very inexpensive yet has a 30 year warrantee.
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The bedroom is so beautiful that I have threatend to move in but Ernest says he will stop I am staying put. I used a lime green first coat and then rubbed turquiose pigment mixed with glaze as a second coat. The last coat is a pale silvery turquoise metal based paint that was squirted and dabbed to give the impression of seaweed. All the furniture came from our home in Los Angeles and I feel it all fit in beautifully.
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When I started with the plans....I made a decision to keep the furniture I could not live without and then designed the building around the furniture.
So there you have it....My dream come true. It was an amazing journey and I am looking forward to many wonderful days in the studio. Our friends and family will have years of enjoyment in the guesthouse.
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Here is a view from my little office. I keep my photography, bookwork and computer separate from my studio and home...after all it's only a few steps between them all..............

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