Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lighting Your Studio

Lighting is a very essential part of a studio and not to be ignored. The different types of lighting along with basic examples of each is given below. Consider these options as you study your studio or work area and think about whether your lighting is adequate or whether simple changes in lighting could make a big difference.

Very generally speaking, there is direct and indirect or reflective lighting. The example above is reflective lighting. The light from either outside or inside is reflected in the mirror and the glass jars. Direct light is shown below as light coming directly into the room through the window.

1. Ambient Lighting. This is the overall lighting that illuminates the room. A perfect example of this is the ceiling fixture such as a chandelier or even the ceiling fan shown below. It alone can make a room very bland and uninteresting.

2. Task Lighting. Task lighting illuminates specific areas for tasks you are working on. It is especially important in a studio. Examples of task lighting could be the light on your sewing machine or iron, under counter lighting, reading lamps, Ott lights, track lights or spotlights. Examples shown below include the fluorescent fixtures I have in my studio above my work areas as well as the floor lamp next to my chair where I often bead or read in the early morning hours.
3. Accent Lighting. This serves a more decorative purpose, often highlighting something to draw ones attention to an item, group of items or to an area. Examples would be up lights, picture lights (the small lights that are made to go over a painting), or even pendant lights. The swing arm light below can be either task lighting or accent lighting and I sometimes use it for both. I am showing it here highlighting my jewelry display. At times, however, I will swing this light around and use it as a task light over my stained glass grinder.
4. Decorative Lighting. This would be differ from Accent lighting in that it does not serve to highlight anything in particular, but rather adds to the ambiance of the room. It is generally softer lighting and includes for example candles, the fireplace, low intensity lamps, small strings of lights like Christmas lights or rope lighting. At one time lanterns like the one below could be considered ambient lighting (or even task lighting in log cabin days), but now that they are not normally used in a functional manner and flames are kept lower more like a candle, they are more decorative.
Another examples shown below is the stained glass house with a 25w bulb...

The candles on my table...
and even the small, low wattage lamp in my studio...

Obviously the task and ambient lighting are most important in the studio, but often to give your room a little more warmth or personality, you may want to include accent, ambient or even decorative lighting.

Finally, there are different types of bulbs. Very basically:
  • Incandescent bulbs produce heat and use a lot of electricity, but provide good lighting;
  • Halogen bulbs are generally bright, low wattage bulbs and energy efficient, but may have a high heat output;
  • Fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient, but turning them on and off often can shorten the life of the bulb. They come in warm (yellow) or cool (blue) shades. I use one of each in my fixture for a more natural lighting.
And don't forget natural lighting which comes from outside. The source of natural light can be a skylight, doorway, windows or even an adjoining room.
If you are unsure of the lighting you need in your space, talk to an expert at a lighting supply store. They will be more than happy to help you and may offer some great ideas you had not considered before. Take your 'floor plan' (see previous post) with you for a clear and instant look at what you have to work with and to help in your discussions of areas that may have specific lighting needs.

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