Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Hi Resolution - A New Year's Studio Meet and Greet" - Welcome to the Studio of "KAREN EMBRY DESIGNS"

I am thrilled that you have stopped by to see my studio!  I've been working on it for a little over a year now. For most of the people that know me, I have been promising that I would have a "show and tell viewing" of my new (well not so new anymore) studio for a while now and it's finally ready! In a sense I suppose that it will always be new in a way, in that it's always a work in progress and I am changing the decor on a regular basis. It simply never seems to be the same day in and day out and that's just what I LOVE about it! It's my studio and it can be whatever I want it to be! I am an artist, designer, author and I love to create! My main focus is licensing my art for product surfaces in the gift, home decor and craft industries. My design studio is where the process all begins...  

This building is actually a really cool place! My studio is on the third floor inside the historic Santaella Cigar Factory. The building itself is over 100 years old has several interesting tales that go along with it.

Would you have guessed that The Santaella Cigar Factory Building used to be one of Babe Ruth's favorite places to visit when he was in town??? The big "Bambino" would pop in and pick up a few boxes of his favorite cigars.Then there are also claims that the old building is haunted. In 2006, Tampa Ghost Watchers studied this building, but they never came to any specific conclusions. Maybe they know the "Ghost Busters"? Anyway, there are those that still say that there is the ghost of an old general that visits the halls from time to time. Occasionally we hear noises and wonder if it is just the sounds of a creaky old building or something else...???

You may ask how I came upon this intriguing place. I was an an art show last fall and overheard an artist talking about her studio space. I was all ears! She was nice enough to tell me about the old Santaella Cigar Factory in West Tampa that was home to an office supply business on the first floor, but the top two floors were studios rented to artists, photographers, architects and all sorts of other creative individuals. I headed over the same day to check it out.

Upon entering the building these are the first floor stairs welcoming visitors to the upper levels.  By the way...there is only one freight elevator in this building... and it is pretty old. So it is only used when absolutely necessary. You will definitely get your workout heading up the sets of steep stairs everyday! The brick on the wall is original from when the building was built in 1904. So cool!

By the time I approached the third floor, I knew this place was going to be just awesome!  Those are original hardwood floors...if they could only talk - what would they say about the history of this place?

Speaking of history...I found this great photo that shares the history of the Santaella building with it's workers rolling cigars in the early 1900's. Cigar Factories were a significant part of Tampa's history. Actually, my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother both worked in the cigar factories. Not his particular one, but back in the day there weren't a lot of work opportunities for women in other industries in this area.  

OK, this is the room and what I saw at first glance.  I agree, not much to look at.  My imagination kicked into high gear thinking of so many possibilities!  The more I looked at the entire area I began to feel that this would be the new home to Karen Embry Designs, all of my art supplies and so much of the other STUFF that creative people own - which includes a wide variety of "YOU NAME IT" odds and ends.

This studio is the only and smallest space that was left in the building for rent. I didn't need a huge area and besides if you give me TOO MUCH room I will fill  lit with TOO MUCH stuff. High ceilings give it good possibilities for storage space. Lots of work to be done! 

I was ready to transform this place! I brought in my ladder and paint supplies... and my portable heaters! In winter this building gets really cold. Not much insulation and of course there are no heating systems, so each artist is on their own to supply heat and air conditioning for their own individual units.

I primed and painted, and primed and painted... there was quite a bit of old paint in there that I was worried it might have lead in it, so everything needed to be covered with primer first.  The ceiling was a whole other story. There were tiny crevices in between the bead board that needed caulking...and I caulked every nook and cranny! My oh my, did my shoulders and back ache!! 

Once finished painting, what was I to do with these ugly floors? These were the original wood floors to, but the hallway original floors were in much better condition. These floors were a bit drafty too. My first thought was to paint them with outdoor porch paint. That should be durable enough for now... wait, on second thought...what about a carpet remnant?  Off to the flooring store!


Yes, I know - this is some pretty wild carpet, huh? The sales representative at the carpet showroom said they had some problems getting rid of this unusual pattern. Most people would not select something like this for their home, so I got a really SWEET deal on it. I LOVE IT!!! Funky and FUN!!! The studio is on its way to looking much better now.

Now it's time to find the furnishings. I had already scavenged a few pieces of vintage furniture that I found out in the halls when one of the other tenants was disposing of it. It was a couple of pieces of old furniture - a dresser and desk and I had some ideas of how to revamp it a bit and add personality to them. 



You can see now that the room is being transformed. Adding in my personal effects and equipment is making this more like a studio home.

A collection of my art on the walls and samples of my licensed art add some interest to the room. 

This is the creative space that includes my desk and supply of necessary creative tools. (I told you I had lots of STUFF!)  The cabinet on the left was donated by friends - I also changed the knobs on this piece of furniture and added some check stripes to the top edge. FUN!

This is the view as you enter my studio...I wish it was always this neat! I only have the one window, but I have a nice view of the Tampa skyline that includes Tampa Stadium and downtown Tampa - plus my studio is only about a fifteen minute drive from home.

I found this corner shelf at the thrift store - it was only $19.00! Can you believe it? It was perfect for this space! I covered the inside shelves with some old scrapbook papers to make it look a little more vintage. I think I have found a way to combine whimsical and vintage. It's a little unusual, but I just LOVE the look!! I guess I could call it "whimtage"???? 

And of course what studio would be complete without a chandelier? It was a rescue piece and came from the Webster flea market. It used to be just plain white and no frills. I painted it bright gold then added the strung pearls, beads and hanging glass charms that I found at a yard sale. My daughter added the finishing touches with hand-made lace roses and lime green tulle. Pretty!!!!

 Buttons and beads...

 Glitter and flowers...

 Magazines ...

Vintage tin with collected baubles...

   My handmade jewelry designs and mosaics too!




and Books.

Ah yes, every studio needs a studio cat...

Thank you for visiting the studio of Karen Embry Designs. I have had so much enjoyment in creating an environment that is truly an inspirational place to create and design from my heart. I hope you enjoyed the studio tour and journey. It was really quite a progress from start to finish and I wanted to share it all with you.

I wish you the best for the NEW YEAR to come...much health, happiness, love and all of the good things in life!

Thanks also for following our "Hi Resolution - A New Year's Studio Meet and Greet" artist/designers blog hop.    

Hop over and visit my talented friends as they welcome in the New Year with a Studio Tour-

To go back to the last artist studio you visited click the Hop Backward arrow below:

To go ahead and visit the studio of the next blog click the Hop Forward arrow below:

Aaron Christensen
Barbara Johansen-Newman
Beth Logan
Brenda Pinnick
J. Wecker-Frisch
Karen Embry
Paula Joerling
Phyllis Dobbs
Samantha Walker
Sharon Himes
Shelly Comiskey
Sue Zipkin