Today we are pleased to share the work space of Diana Bloomfield.
Please tell us about your workspace.
Twenty-two steps from the back door of my house, and I’ve arrived at the front door of my studio. My studio’s former life was a detached garage, with potting shed attached to that, all built in the 1920’s.
Frustrated with working, for years, all over the house— materials scattered everywhere, always an unorganized mess— we finally hired someone, almost seven years ago, to renovate this space and turn it into a working studio. The renovation itself was nothing short of amazing, and I cannot imagine how I ever lived without having this 600 sq feet space where I am able to spread out, work freely, create, and also teach. I now work within a more beautiful organized kind of mess, but this space has been so positively transformative, that I often can’t believe it’s all mine. I can walk out my back door, any time day or night, to a space and a job I love. I feel very fortunate.
What are your objects of inspiration?
I am everyday inspired by my entire work space. I love that it’s 90 years old, and that we maintained an old building in a State-recognized historic district, and one that has a history all its own. A few years ago, I met the grandson of the original owners of our house, and learned that the potting shed had been used, at one point, as a smokehouse for hams. I’m inspired by that kind of history and all the incarnations this old building must have gone through in 90 years. I’m inspired by the original beams and rafters, which I chose to remain visible. And the renovators were able to save some of the heart pine from the original flooring. From the little they could save, they made me a sliding barn door, which serves to separate the office space from the studio space.
I’m inspired by the artwork that surrounds me, my own and that of others. I have one piece, in particular, which was created by a good friend of mine, Katharine Thayer (now deceased). Katharine was a life-long gum printer who helped me a lot with gum printing when I was first learning to print in that process, and a tricolor gum print of hers now hangs over my work space. She rarely made tricolor gum prints, but the one I have is a small tricolor she made of these lovely, window-lit red poppies. Her son and daughter were generous in giving that to me, and that print now hangs right over where I coat my papers, so I see it almost everyday, and I think of her.
I’m inspired by all the various books I’ve collected through the years, some now out-of-print, made by artists whose work and words have, over the years, influenced me in some way.
I have an old tube amp that a friend of mine re-purposed, so I love the music that surrounds me everyday as I work. Again, I love that this object is old and had a whole other life in another century, and that he resurrected it to be used in the 21st century, complete with a blue tooth connection for use with my cell phone.
My father was a photographer in the Army Air Corps (now Air Force), and I have a small photograph of him that someone took in the 1940’s, where he’s posing with his hand-held Speedgraphic.
And I have a photograph of my husband, Peter, that I made over 30 years ago in downtown Philadelphia. It’s my favorite photograph of him, so that image, when I made it and how he looks into the camera, and what was happening at that time and place, inspires me.
And, of course, my sweet border collie, Tucker, is always by my side in the studio. He is great company and quite discerning when it comes to the images I’m printing.
Do you have any favorite tools in your work space?
I work with lots of different brushes and papers that I love. And a former student of mine who works with pigments and dyes has been creating some watercolor pigments that he’s having me test, specifically for gum printing. They are spectacular, so he sends these different colors, in clear glass jars, every few months or so— with no warning— so to receive these in the mail is always a surprise and such a treat. These jars are so beautiful all lined up on my counter— and print so beautifully— very intense colors. These pigments are already mixed with gum and honey, and very thick, so I scoop out the little that I need with this tiny, delicately engraved silver salt spoon I found at some ‘antique’ store. I like using it, but I also just like seeing that sit there, aligned with all these colorful jars of pigment.
And while this isn’t exactly a tool I print with, I do have a wood stove that I love and that keeps me super warm and cozy on cold winter days. We don’t have that many of them in North Carolina, but when we do, it’s great to light up that wood stove.
How did you set up your space to accommodate the different media and techniques that you use?
My work space is divided into two areas. I have an office area with an oversized desk that is host to my computer, scanner, and printer. I have a large work table, an old beautiful wooden flat file, as well as a bookcase and some storage for framed work that my husband built for me. In the studio area, I have a large cabinet that was put in, with a large deep sink, a UV vacuum print frame on top of yet another old flat file, and I even have room for a couch, And I recently found another flat file— all 3 were bargains found locally, and in great shape. For our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband gave me a gorgeous Takach etching press, which I have on a table in the middle of the studio floor. So it all works out pretty well.
If there was one thing you could change about your space what would it be?
Oh, I would probably add a little more space for another bookcase and at least one more flat file. I’m not sure you can have too many flat files. Or books.
How do you keep track of all of your ideas?
I typically have multiple bodies of work that I focus on at any given time, so my ideas flow from those tangible images, which helps me keep track.
What is on your desk right now?
I have a large deep desk that holds my Epson scanner, printer, and desk-top computer, a couple of mid-century modern lamps that always seem to be on, some photo journals and books, pens, and some medium format negatives waiting for something.
Does your space inspire you?
Absolutely. (See question above.) I find my work space incredibly appealing, and so I’m much more creative working there, because I want to be there. But I also think about all the people who helped to make it as perfect (for me) as it is.
Thank you Diana for sharing your space with us.
To learn more about the work of Diana Bloomfield please visit her page at Diana Bloomfield.