In this Open Studio Tour series, we’ll be snooping around artists’ creative spaces to find out how they set them up, when, why…even how often they clean them! We really want to know all about our artists, and maybe get a bit of inspiration!
I’m visiting the West Coast for this month’s Studio Tour, where Hiromi, a.k.a. soap, mixes food-grade unhydrogenated oils in order to make her scented creations from scratch!
What’s your name and what kind of craft do you do?
My name is Hiromi and I make soaps and other bath products from scratch.
What are you working on right now?
I’m making favors for my friends’ wedding, as well as building inventory for upcoming shows and stores. I’ve been doing more colorful stuff lately and always (re)working label and package design.
When did you decide that you needed a studio? How have you set it up?
Almost immediately. Once I started selling on Etsy, I realized I needed space just to store all of the raw materials alone.
I actually converted the space where I used to paint into a space dedicated to soap making. I have a lot of “hidden” space like a converted 6-drawer dresser to store supplies, multiple closets with shelving, and lots of 5 gallon buckets to store miscellaneous items. They’re great for stacking.
Did the studio set-up impact your budget?
The outlay has been gradual as my business has grown. The space hasn’t grown, just all the storage aspects. Some mistakes cost a bit, like when I bought 4 massive rolling plastic storage units which I could roll around to where I needed the supplies. They literally buckled from the weight of the supplies and became unusable.
How big is your studio?
A room plus storage space and some space to work outside (where I handle and store the lye and anything noxious).
Which is your favorite tool?
It’s a toss-up between my stick blenders and silicone spatulas.
Do you want to share with us one secret of your studio?
Half-folding 6-foot tables which can expand work space as needed and for multiple tasks. They store as a 3×3-foot and have handles.
How many hours do you normally spend in your studio?
It varies. I’ve never really kept track. Sometimes for hours at a stretch. On other days, I mostly am designing labels, or doing more mundane tasks, some only time spent to pack orders. If there’s a downside to owning my own business, it is that the mundane stuff interferes with my creative time.
Is there anything you would add to your working space?
My wish list is long. For starters, more space/rooms would be fantastic. More organized storage would be nice too. In my fantasies, I dream of a full lab set up.
If you had to choose one synonym for your studio which one would you pick: atelier, family room, lair, lodge, nest, playroom, retreat, sanctuary, shelter, darkroom, or showroom and why?
None of those seem to fit. It’s my creative workspace.
And last but not least how often do you clean it?
I clean after each session.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love having the opportunity to create and share nice-smelling products that are gentle on the skin, made from scratch and give others pleasure. My studio time makes me happy.
Thank you, Hiromi! Until next studio snooping, ciao!
If you have an interesting studio or workspace and some tips to share, add your photos to our new flickr pool and you may be next in our Open Studio Tour series! For more on how handmade soap is made, check our Process video with beyondthepicketfence.