Living and crafting in an appartment building, how did you do it?

Hi everyone,

I really want to learn and  practice making props, sculpting and making replicas. But I feel very limited with what I can build due to living in a smaller space and being unable to work outside in winter due to the cold and snow.

Renting a Garage or similar location isn't an option for me at the moment. I am still very new to this and while I am ready to invest in courses, material and time, a second rent isn't something I could afford.

So I must ask, has anyone been in this situation and how did you do it? What did you start with or how did you manage spray painting, airbrushing, working with resin and so on. I want to be as safe as possible, I'm also living with my boyfriend and our pets, so I'm not comfortable using chemicals if I can't work in a well ventilated area away from them.

Thank you!


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    I am in the same boat actually and with the cold weather as well! I luckily had an extra small office sized room in my old apartment I was able to use with a small table to sculpt and work on. I now have a little workbench in my basement (still not ideal in the winter months) but it works for now, and I brought my plaster molds upstairs into my bedroom so they wouldn't get moldy or crack. Just use whatever space you have! I even sculpted and painted in my living room for a while. 

    The spray painting and airbrushing might be a little tougher. Maybe make a spray paint box out of any old boxes to use outside and then bring your projects back in to dry. If you have any fans to put on them to get any residual fumes out. Or ask any friends or family members that have garage spaces if you could use them for painting in.

    Hope this helps somewhat! 
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    Not a pro just trying to help: I badly want to give advice on this but it is a long list of don't. The only two that I can say are safe indoors is sewing and non spray makeup applications. Hand painting with low fume paints and sketching, along with the low scrap sculpting like plastilina, sculpy (plastic clays) etc. are all good indoor options. Can't ever use the sinks for any form of cleanup on resins, clays, or casting materials of any kind so that is out unless you just use disposable temp tools like popsicle sticks and dollar tree brushes. Resins are a near hundred percent no unless they are ridiculously low fume and I say that is not really possible. Most of the classes will advise well enough about it being an indoor or outdoor process. If you do work inside get yourself a kiddy wading pool and some larger but lower walled storage containers to work in. I think the biggest NO is fumables that are also flammables. I can see throwing away completely dried sculpture or casting wastes but never attempt to add alcohols, thinners, liquid resins or chemicals of that nature "soaked up or not" to trash in a community trash, it is just a fire hazard on such a huge level. No baking the sculpy in the apt and similar. For now, you might want to focus on stone molds and gelatin casts, things like that. I know you are already feeling all this and it is why you asked so ignore my rambling about things you are already overcoming. Most apartments will have a work area and yours might be accessible if you ask the super. That is a tight line to walk though as they would then be quite curious what you might be doing in the apt so maybe ask other tenants first. I would advise searching your local area for maker spaces, community centers or similar but having fought that battle myself, it would be more likely the super would have a legit workspace on site. Might be worth a call to city hall or your local art center. You would be surprised how many are available.
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    Darrell GreenDarrell Green ✭✭✭
    edited December 2022
    On the resin note, I only ever found one truly low fume option and it is the alumilite 5 to 10 minute one that puts out a finished WHITE product. No clear that I have ever tried was anything less than toxic levels of bad regardless of their advertising. And always put fumables in the bathroom with the fan running if you even attempt it. I would say the white alumilite and some hand paints (not spray) and minor amounts of some glues could be done this way but never large casts nor large amounts af any fumable including glues/thinners and just take clear resins off the plan altogether.
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    1. Make small spaces feel larger. ...
    2. Choose colors and patterns carefully. ...
    3. Pick a statement piece. ...
    4. Use smart storage. ...
    5. Make a gallery wall. ...
    6. Use mirrors. ...
    7. Modify built-ins. ...
    8. Use an area rug to divide the space.
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    For a long time, I had to get by with a workbench in my living room, and I found many great ways to help keep things functional while not making my living room look like a garage workshop.

    I used a lot of rolling storage cabinets that could be moved into the corner or under the bench so supplies did not overwhelm the limited space.  You can also store supplies in plastic tubs/containers elsewhere (like in a closet) and pull out the required tub when performing that task.  For example, having tubs for: Paints, adhesives, mold-making materials, electrical, sewing, sculpting, etc.   

    I also recommend having tubs dedicated to individual projects, so when you are not working on a project all its relevant parts can easily be packed up and stored.  This makes working on multiple projects a lot easier.

    Storing tools you use less frequently is also handy.  My storage process is based on distance and frequency of use.  My most used tools are on the pegboard behind my workbench, less used tools are in the bench drawers/cabinets, even less used tools are stored under the workbench, even less used tools are stored in a closet, and even less used tools are stored in my storage unit a few miles away.   So as I stop using a tool it slowly falls into each of those locations until it ends up in storage.

    Storage solutions like the "DreamBox," which can fold up into a single cabinet, are also a great way to have a workspace that can vanish when not being used.  It's expensive, but worth it in my opinion.  A friend of mine got one and really loves it.

    Storage and organization are key when working out of a small workspace.  My current shop is all in a single bedroom, which is a big upgrade from a single bench in the living room, but making good use of every square inch lets you pack a lot of creative power into a small area.  

    I also use a folding table and portable lights so I can work outside for messy tasks like spray painting, sanding, etc.

    Here is a Pinterest board where I store workshop optimization ideas, interesting tools, etc.


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    That pinterest page is crack for makers.
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    Thanks everyone ! Started working on reorganizing everything and will see if I can borrow a small area in a family member's garage to maybe work in during the winter :) Will share some photos of my workspace when it is done haha
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    Very excited for you. Am hoping to see some workbench pics soon enough... Would love to see which classes you are currently watching/following. 
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