This month I picked up woodworking and DIY for the first time in a long time. I have hardly any experience since school, but youtube and power tools make things easy! Seen as it’s relevant to the art, I thought I’d do a quick blog post to show a bit of the process with this project - hopefully someone will be inspired to customise their own space more, or build for the future. From time to time I’ll document art projects on this blog, so it’s nice that the first will be the foundation of that – my drawing desk.
I started with a random idea to make a drawing surface but at first it was going to be a small portable thing. The project evolved and grew as it went along, which I think is a great way to work if you can also keep it balanced. For me the way to find that is through sketching and brainstorming, and then refining & sculpting the sketch (idea) more and more...Working within boundaries, but leaving room for flexibility & creativity within them. This particular project grew into a multi level multi functional area (and growing)...which is really helping my comfort levels, and also inspiring me to draw more often (the main goals).
Drawing on wood and cutting it up with power tools turns out to be a lot of fun
After finally getting the supports in a stone wall, I cut the desk out and double checked my measurements for the height of the legs. Following that it was outside to spray paint everything in galaxy colours; mostly purple to go with our home, and also teal, red and black. Different coloured star effects were added by pressing the cap lightly, often shaking to get spots of paint dropping. I have very little experience with spray painting too, so this was a forgiving lesson.
A little decorating and drying later, the main desk was ready to put together and attach to the wall. I was pleasantly surprised how much all my measurements lined up, and how sturdy it proved to be. More celebratory tea ensued, before I varnished my new construction and moved on to planning the drawing surface…
disclaimer: not my phone
The main point of this desk was to make the most of our limited space, and create an angled, adjustable drawing station...So I did a little research on the possibilities, and aimed pretty high. I decided to buy 2 draftsman hinges designed for drafting tables, and confused myself trying to work out how it all might fit together in a smooth yet sturdy way. Letting go of the fear that I had no idea what I was doing, and that it all might go wrong and be a waste of time, I went ahead and made all the parts which would comprise this new contraption.
Again sketching it out and refining, I wanted a split level design where I could slide a lightbox in different positions behind a transparent drawing surface. This gap could also house other artwork or even coloured slides. Superglue and perfectionist cutting saved the day, and again it came together nicely.
From there I bought some neoprene to finish the edges, and some sticky-backed velcro strips to be able to attach various things, in various positions. One of the attachments I made was a wrist/arm rest...which I cut from wood, padded with foam and upholstered with the blue faux leather.
finished after the 1st stage
Despite being really happy with it at this point, I am always trying to go a bit further (and usually can’t rest easy until I have!). From there I added a 2nd, removable drawing surface which is bigger (almost A2)...and secures to the same velcro strips. This gives the option of doing larger scale work smoothly, but can be easily removed and stored to save space if needed. The armrest removes from the original surface, and can be reattached to the bigger one...as well as used at angles like a painter’s Mahl stick.
There was a slim gap at the back of the desk behind the drawing station, which I thought perfect to store some stationary. So I set about creating this long container (after you guessed it – more sketching) using thin wood and making hollow dividers, to keep the whole things as light and portable around the room as possible. Our friend Mr Superglue continued to amaze and frustrate in equal measure...now inadvertently removing my fingerprints, and sticking things together which never should be.
And hoorah! The desk was almost complete. The angled surface is a god send for regular writers or artists, and it really “ties the room together”
(I'll add a better photo soon)
I experimented with some pneumatic supports to make the adjusting action super-smooth, but the ones I got were too strong for the application. I might look into this again in the future. I also added a hanging drawer underneath for extra materials storage, and will at some point add some racks for storing papers and art. In the week since then I’ve also knocked together a couple of matching monitor stands – to raise the screens to eye-level, and create more storage. I made them to have interesting diagonal angles for aesthetics, as well as being self-supporting enough to not be secured down (giving adjustable layout options). I long for a larger building to customise and improve...maybe even to build our own! But all in due time...