As some can imagine, it can be strange moving home after living somewhere else for nine years. The place you remembered as a kid takes on new perspective. The people are different, the local movie theatre no longer exists, and what once used to be open green space is now an unslaught of fast food frachises. If you are anything like me, your first thought coming back was, "Wait, what? What the hell am I doing here?" But, with a slight shift in attitude, and the help of a few incredible supporters, it can become quite a magical place. Opportunities emerge in a way one never thought possible. Like, for example, when you move back to your parents' house after an eight month internship in Monroe, WI and suddenly drop all of your crap in the middle of their dining room... and you casually suggest building a collaborative workspace and studio to start a small bourgeoning business where you can put all of said crap... and both your parents immediately jump on board??? (well, almost immediately.)
But let's segue for a minute before we get back to that. How do we find ourselves in such a place anyway? Here's how. After eight years in school, I emerged with a B.A. in Art History, a B.F.A. in Fine Art, and an M.F.A. in Textile & Apparel Design. I know, I know, total money-making fields, right? The joke is not lost on me. Yes, I do find myself in the equally amazing and terrifying transitional period between school and the ever-elusive dream job. While my slew of applications and cover letters disemminate across the nation, I am embarking on a project I have dreamed about since I was a kid selling hand-decorated styrofoam plates out of my treehouse -- Building and establishing a small design company. Thus, here we are at the beginning of MELK Studios.
Above: Our proposed studio location, currently a glorified storage area.
"MELK Studios LLC is a collaborative creative group located in Northeastern Wisconsin. Situated in a newly renovated milk house, the name “MELK” pays reference to both the architecture of our creative workspace, but also the colloquial Midwestern mispronunciation of “milk.”
Rooted strongly in good old Midwestern charm, MELK specializes in handmade, home and apparel goods. Drawing from Bauhaus Design, MELK believes that form is equally important to function and our products embody this belief. We focus on complimenting our clean lines and classic silhouettes with creative and contemporary color combinations, intriguing prints, and uniquely handcrafted components."
When I say "beginning," I do mean beginning. With the help of both of my talented parents, we have set a goal to turn our old milkhouse and outdoor dog kennel into a collaborative workshop we can all use. As an art teacher for over 26 years, my mother is a talented painter and illustrator, in addition to an amazing educator. My dad is an incredible self-taught carpenter, furniture maker, and all around handyman. And me? My interest lies in textiles, woodworking, and screenprinting. But really, we all do a little bit of everything and that is what will keep this exciting.
Above: Mom ripping out the old ceiling of the milkhouse. She found some old hooch bottles stored between the ceiling rafters which were pretty neat. All I found was a handful of petrified racoon poop.
Above: Ceiling successfully ripped out, large window waiting for install.
Above: Framing out the windows, positioning and nailing in wall studs. The words "16" on center" still haunt me in my sleep.
Above: Exterior tongue and groove plywood panels set. Mold resistant primer, check. Windows ready to be installed.
Above: Insulation, in progress.
As our foray into blogging, I welcome everyone and thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to share in our studio-building/art-making journey. I hope to post updates frequently as we continue to remodel MELK's space. So far, the walls are up, windows are in, and insulation and drywall is done. We are in the process of mudding the walls, wiring the electricals, and installing the heater. Thanks again for checking us out! And don't forget to visit us again, especially once our collections drop. (Long term goal, first we got to get this studio up and running!)