Studio In a Box

studio in a box

So this is a project I’ve been working away on designing for a while now, as a way to solve a lack of accessible studio space, and the need to stay at home during Covid social-distancing.

It’s a trifold-door cabinet, with internal power supply, that will be installed in my carport, between the secondary entrance (left) and laundry (right) doors of my home. It’s designed so that all the equipment stacks inside it – Welders and foldup welding cart go in first, then welding screens, then workbench.

All the equipment within is on wheels, so it can be rolled out and the space configured, with no lifting required. All it requires me to do is move my car forward a couple of metres, but the cabinet is narrow enough that my car can fit beside it when closed.

There’s a long, narrow workbench for my drill-press and bench-grinder, as well as storage, and a table for my metal-cutting bandsaw (a quiet alternative to a drop-grinder), that sits over the Air-Compressor. The compressor is an interesting piece of kit – it’s a silenced model, that uses two small motors, rather than one large one. You can easily hold a conversation at normal speaking volume, while standing next to it.

The power supply, which will sit roughly in the middle of the cabinet, is already installed – a pair of 15 amp, and a pair of 10 amp plugs, on a 32 amp line, so I can drive both the air compressor (10) and the welder’s plasma cutter (15) at the same time. Or, I can keep both my TIG and MIG welders powered up at the same time, and alternate between them, using  MIG to tack things in place, then TIG for the finished welds.

All in all, it should be a super adaptable, and quick setup / packdown low-effort workspace.

2020 – Week 28

The great metal-cutting happened.

Twenty lengths of steel, measured and cut. Going to take a couple of days off to recover, but it reinforces how necessary the studio-in-a-box project will be to alleviate the setup / packdown time.

While chilling I took the opportunity to rework the EPUB of The Metaning, to pull out all the interactive functions, and make it a more standard fixed-layout book. I’m pretty happy with the result, it’s a little less 2013 in style, and includes details about the exhibition, which almost makes it an exhibition catalogue. It kinda makes me think I should make the big art book version as an EPUB as well.

Related to that was a need to recreate a couple of webpages from the Australian Comics Journal, one of which was an interview with me, which seemed to have disappeared from the internet, as the ACJ’s website no longer resolves. it’s amazing how difficult it is to convert a .webarchive from Safari, into a normal webpage.

2020 – Week 27

A bit of admin on Monday, then ordering some roller-stands to support material going into the band saw.

Tuesday, they arrived – sneaky delivery guy left them at the front door, and was gone by the time I came downstairs upon hearing the truck. The rest of the day, indeed most of the rest of the week was spent on tax paperwork for the end of the financial year.

2020 – Week 26

Continuing to work on small bits and pieces, taking a few days of downtime after a grant application. Still reorganising my Aperture library so as to make the migration over to Capture One more effective.

I had a success with scripting Aperture to change the names of projects to a format that’s easier to order, since organising by date is broken. I found a really helpful online community –, and a couple of folks there have been writing up scripts to help with the task.

I spent some time fixing the clothesline, which had been broken by the solar installers – it involved getting out my big swage-crimping tool, and re-crimping a sleeve.

The other big task was getting the bandsaw set up and working – with an initial cut test showing that it should be more than capable of doing all the cuts I need to get my welding cart done.

2020 – Week 25

Another week of grant application writing, and continuing to fine-tune my photo management strategy. I am increasingly disappointed in software that seems to ignore the existence of edge-cases.

I mixed up my first batch of cutting oil – buying the squirt bottles with the markers on the side was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. I’ve used it a lot over the years, but never actually made any up myself. It’s one of those weird liquids, where the oil is a translucent red, but when you mix it with water, it produces a milky emulsion, that doesn’t separate.

In my photo process, I’ve made a huge discovery as to why some of my Aperture projects don’t import correctly into Capture One, losing their organisational structure:

Turns out the projects that were created by iPhoto, prior to iPhoto and Aperture sharing a common library format, were tripping up the import process, and unable to be read by Capture One’s importer.

The solution, was to just rename the projects in Aperture, even renaming them to the same name seems to do the trick. Obviously a part of the process touches the Project’s metadata in a way that makes it readable by Capture One.

2020 – Week 24

Picked up my steel – I ended up not having offcuts, as the vendor cut it down and only charged me for the specific lengths I required.

Planned & modelled the cutlist, unpacked the bandsaw, bought tungsten electrodes and filler rods for the welder, as well as some cutting oil, and spray bottles.

2020 – Week 23

Ordered steel for the welding cart project. It’s 8m lengths, rather than 6.5, so I’ll have a bit of stock left over, which isn’t a bad thing. Cutting by the steel merchant is $5 per cut – it won’t be long before the bandsaw pays for itself, in fact, at these prices, I’d hazard a guess that this project will do it.

Spent the weekend in Brisbane for medical appointments, and watched Twitter in horror as the NSW Police lived up to their reputation as violent thugs, and capsicum-sprayed a hundred trapped people under central station.

2020 – Week 22

Most of the week was spent working on a grant application for emergency funding to help cover the projects that have been cancelled as a result of the plague.

But, once that was done, I was able to get back to designing my studio-in-a-box, and had some real progress, locking down the design of my welding cart.

I wanted it to be a simple as possible, and keep to 45 degree cuts – then realising I had red & blue welders, decided to go all De Stijl with a black frame.

From here, it’ll get casters on the corners.

2020 – Week 21

There’s always that part in the zombie film, where some idiot lets the zombies in by getting too close to the barricade, getting bitten, turning, and then suddenly the infection is inside the former stronghold.

That’s what things feel like now. Someone’s lifting up the edge of the dome – people outside the dome are there with their crowbars, lifting and prying, you hear parties in neighbouring apartment complexes, large groups loud and drunk, and so you hunker down, and wait for the second wave.

While hunkered down, I’ve been working on an arts grant, and spending vastly too much time arguing with strangers on internet forums.

2020 – Week 20

Life drifts under the dome, days become weeks, weeks become months, every Sunday I look at my calendar, and realise how much more time has gone by.

This week was spent with construction noise, as the roof of the building I live in has a solar array installed. Future moment.

The singular task this week has been moving my photo library to a new drive, and new format. It’s been a slog – especially dealing with images from iOS devices, which randomly fail to include EXIF data in the files, AND don’t let you assign an image naming schema – so you’ll hae files called “IMG_1234.jpg” but no way to know for certain which device make it – an iPhone, somone else’s iPhone, an iPad – there’s no way to tell the images apart.

A lot of the detective work required looking at the filename, then looking for files with similar numbers, then inferring the dates they were shot – in one case trying to find out if there was a particular nightclub during a particular weekend in 2001.

But, by the end it was done.