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MELK and the End of the World.

My older sister, Natalie, and I made a trip home from Madison this weekend to celebrate our youngest sister's graduation from college with our extended family. Natalie has followed much of the progress of MELK, but never saw our studio space first hand. When she walked into it this weekend, her words were pretty much this: (Note: I'm paraphrasing here) "Holy shit, Lucy, you could live here. This is nicer than your apartment. And God knows it is probably built to withstand the end of the world. We could all live in here if that were to happen."

She ain't lying. What this space has become has surpassed all of our wildest dreams. When mom and I first started brainstorming -- like a couple of crazy artists are bound to do -- we envisioned some plywood walls and a place to put a screenprinting table. What we have on our hands now is far superior to that.

Below you will find some photos showing the progress that has been made since our last blog post. The exterior of the milk house has been repaneled to match the dog kennel addition, a door has been added to the interior hallway leading to the rest of the barn, the heater and propane tank are in place, and window boxes prepped for new windows in the milk house. Needless to say Jim has been one busy man-beaver.



Above: The newly paneled milk house, on a beautiful Northeastern Wisconsin day.


Above: Vented propane heater installed and ready for the forthcoming WI winter.


Above: New door installed, complete with an "Authorized Personnel" notice. The workbench you see was something I designed and dad and I built for my graduate show. It welcomes its new home.


Above: Jim putting a coat of primer on the window boxes before installing the new windows. Seamus, maxing and relaxing. He has taken quite a liking to the new space.


Above: The studio has officially been Natalie-approved.


Above: Natalie and her new friend. Discussions as to where this "friend" is going to hang in the studio will undoubtedly be discussed in a future post.

Something to note that I don't think I've covered in our blog posts thus far. When we first embarked on this journey, the goal was to re-use as much existing material as possible. I come from a family of hoarders. As such, we have a tendency to collect things... things we are convinced we will be able to use at a future moment in time. This can be both a gift and a curse. In this case, it was a giant, wrapped-with-a-bow, kind of gift. Much of the 2x4s used for the wall studs were things Jim had salvaged over the years, a majority of the interior paint was second-hand, even the large windows included in the addition were salvaged from my uncle's house. Jim did his best to make sure we used as many salvaged materials as possible. Thanks to him, our two favorite words over here at MELK are this: "It's free."

The new milk house windows are a total embodiment of this mantra. All the glass was salvaged from old barn windows dad had collected over the years. He systematically deconstructed the original window frames, cut the glass to the necessary size, and built new window frames to fit the interior and exterior of the studio. Once the caulk has set, they will be ready for a coat of paint before being put into place. More on that to come.


Above: Scraping off dust and debris around the edges of the glass panes.


Above: The new window, ready for its final coat of paint and installation.

And here we are. We have reached a point in the project where the three of us (mom, dad, and myself) are thinking about what all needs to go into the space. While it looks nice and spacious now, this 10ft x 25ft studio is going to start feeling mighty small once we get all the necessary equipment inside. Nevertheless, any space is better than no space. I'm looking forward to move-in day and I hope you are too! Keep in mind we are still planning an Open House celebration later this Fall. We appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement we've received along the way and are so thankful for the time you take to follow our progress. Stay tuned for more!

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