Artists take their work home

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Jewelry maker Sarah Buckles Larner pours herself a cup of coffee and walks up the stairs to her studio.

Still wearing her pajamas, she watches the sun rise over the Flat Tops from her window. Then she starts to work.

¤ Steamboat Springs Arts Council's North Routt County Artists' Studio Tour ¤ 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday ¤ Maps for the self-guided tour are available at the Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St. ¤ $20 in advance and $25 on Saturday. Continental breakfast is included in ticket price, and various restaurants on the tour route will offer lunch specials to tour participants. ¤ 879-9008

When there are no interruptions, Larner can get lost in her creations for hours. She lifts her head, and it's already noon.

And that's the advantage of having a studio built onto your home.

For artists, the right space can make all the difference in the quality and the amount of work they are able to make.

No one knows that better than a ceramic artist whose work requires space to store bags of clay, enough electricity to fire up a kiln and the freedom to make a mess while sitting at a potter's wheel.

For years, ceramic artist Julie Anderson set up makeshift studios in the garages of homes she rented. Landlords often worried about her using a kiln on their property. When that wasn't a problem, there was rarely any natural light or she struggled to keep the rooms heated in the winter.

It wasn't until June 2004 that Anderson and fellow artist Greg Grasso decided to buy a warehouse on Copper Ridge Drive and create the kind of space they needed to work.

Their new space needed to be completely redesigned for their concept. They cut windows out of the six-inch concrete walls. They put wood floors, a kitchen and plumbing upstairs, creating a studio apartment. They lined the walls with shelves and built tables to maximize the 800-square-foot ground floor.

The live-in studio took shape during the past year and is finally ready for visitors on the 2005 Artists' Studio Tour of North Routt County.

The view overlooks a parking lot and another warehouse, hardly the scenery that inspires Anderson's nature-based work.

Still, Anderson said, if she hadn't been able to find the right space to create her work, she would have been forced to pursue another medium.

She hopes the chance to tour nine studios and see the work of 15 people in Routt County will inspire art lovers to connect directly with the artists.

"There are not a lot of places to show in Steamboat," she said. "A lot of people come to town who want to see local art, and they can't always find it."

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