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Our Dye Studio


We have been dyeing yarn and fiber for quite a while now and use half of an old shed at my place as our dye studio.  The tractor, gas cans and yard tools live in the other side of the shed.  I think the shed started out as a potting shed for the previous owner.  The counters were high and slatted and the floor was paved with large cement slabs, some entirely cement and others just a skim of cement over a core of Styrofoam.  I wish I had taken a picture of the way it looked at the beginning.  We did manage to get quite a bit of stuff dyed but were constantly tripping on the uneven floor and we ended up with sore backs from working at counters that were too low or too high.  Our various small tools kept falling through the slats on the counters and bouncing on the floor.  Not the best of conditions but we did some great work in there.

The shed has great bones.... the doorways are wide, the walls and ceiling are made of corrugated metal and the space is generous.  Our propane burners are inside the shed to protect the flames from the ever present wind but there is still plenty of air movement so we have good ventilation.  Inside we are protected from the wind and rain and sun.  We hung several clotheslines from the trees right outside the dye studio so there is plenty of space to hang newly dyed yarn to dry.  It has all the comforts of home, minus heat or air conditioning, but the uneven floor and awkward counters were maddening.

We decided last winter to cement the floor and have the counters re-built.  I mentioned the upgrades to Richard, my wonderful contractor, but it took months to get Delbert and the rest of the cement crew out to do the job.  I got the news that they would arrive one Monday in April so Ron and I spent the Sunday before cleaning out all the dye supplies, burners, pots and racks.  Delbert and the guys showed up bright and early Monday morning to take out the counters, move all the odd cement pavers and get all the prep work done for the new floor.

Here the re-bar has been set, the edge forms installed and it's all ready for the cement truck to arrive.  We even added a real porch outside the doorway so we have a place to set hot pots and rinse buckets!

First thing Tuesday morning I woke up to the sound of a very large truck coming up the driveway.  Cement trucks are much larger when you see them up close than they are when you see them on the highway... and they look pretty darn big on the highway!

It took these guys almost no time at all to back the truck into position and start pouring cement.  It was fun to watch!  Here they are spreading the cement.  Once the cement was all in the forms, the guys...

started smoothing it out and making the perfect surface for us - smooth enough to hose off but rough enough that no one would slip on it when it's wet.  They had it all finished in just a couple of hours but stayed most of the day to work the surface every couple of hours.

We let the cement rest and harden for a couple of days and then started moving all our stuff back in.  This is what it looks like all finished.....

The floor is nice and smooth, although about 4 inches taller so the head room through the doorway is less.  Peggy and I can walk through without problems but taller people have to duck.  We had some hooks on the rafters but have added many more along with hooks on the wooden cross pieces so there are lots of places to hang spoons, strainers, hot pad and thermometers.  The counters are the perfect height to work on with smooth solid tops and the shelf underneath is metal hardware cloth so the pots will drain.  It's fabulous!  And it was ready just in time for our Natural Dye Workshop, but more of that next time....