Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Studio Assistant Week One

Earlier this year I started thinking about hiring a studio assistant to help me in my home studio. As so often happens with this blog, writing about a problem or an issue helped me realize something important about that issue. This particular writing made me realize that I have actually reached the professional level and now is the time to hire an assistant.

The studio gets fairly messy during the academic year and I usually spend about a week cleaning it before I can get to work in the summer.

Of course the blog is also public, so as soon as I realized I was ready to hire an assistant, I had a volunteer . I wrote about the idea on a Saturday and had a student suggest herself for the job as soon as I walked into the school studio on a Monday.

my wooden shelves today--after putting them back together and putting work back on them

Last week was finals week, as well as the week before June Art Fest so I had a lot to do and little time to do it in. My new studio assistant came over on Friday morning and got right to work. Its funny, I wanted to hire someone to help do the cleaning so I could do other things. Somehow I didn't realize how very helpful this would be. Not only did she clean and help me pack for Art Fest for 3 hours, but by working hard herself, she kept me mostly on task. if I had set out to clean for 6 hours, I would have gotten bored and taken breaks and gotten distracted looking at shiny objects in the studio or making tough decisions about which stack of bubble wrap to use for packing. Instead, I felt like I had to stay busy because she was staying busy. I think I got more than 6 hours of work out of the two of us in just 3 hours.

tedious jobs like packing lawn sticks are perfect for me to assign to an assistant
I was also able to give her the more tedious tasks. I figured she was compensated for boredom--and since she hadn't done all of these things many many times before, she would get as bored as I would doing them. I had her clear my wooden shelves and take them apart so I could take them for my booth this weekend. Then I had her pack up the stray lawn sticks (scroll to bottom of linked page for image) so I could take them and so they'd be off the work surfaces. Finally she collected tools from around the studio and worked on recycling some random clay I had left over from who-knows-when. As I type it out, it doesn't sound like three hours worth of work, but it sure was.

my new shelf of sorted (and sorta clean) bike parts

Meanwhile I continued the long process of sorting bike parts. Most of the shelf in my lean-to storage area is now devoted to boxes of gears, chains, ball bearings, pedals and other parts. This project took me days of work. I completed it when the studio assistant was here.

bike and mechanical parts (and some hardware) in my lean-to storage area

The upshot of my assistant's first day was that I got my show stuff packed up and also got some work done for school that afternoon. I haven't gotten much work done in the studio since then, because I had family visiting and a couple of jobs for work (still--why am I not being paid for this?), but my new studio assistant will be here tomorrow, meaning I should be ready to start building for real next week.

Mike Hiler in our shared booth at June Art Fest
June Art Fest went ok. The weather was nice and people came, but I didn't sell much. I did get some good ideas for new work based on some discussions with folks who visited the booth.

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