My darkrooms, Part 5 of 6 – The first truly permanent space at home

I have been doing my own darkroom work since high school and I am now retired.  I started in my parents’ house bathroom.  After college graduation and the first job, I moved into a rent house that had a darkroom, and then I built one in another rent house, one for an employer, and two in houses that I’ve owned.

Shortly after leaving the security company (See: Part 4 of 6), my new job required a transfer to another city.  The house we bought had no good place for a darkroom.  However, I was traveling a lot and really didn’t give it much thought.  I did set up in the laundry room once, but there was a window and two doors (one with glass) to deal with.  Plus, there was barely room.

The house also had no place for my wife, a painter, to work.  She needed studio space.  We looked at a number of options, including adding on to the existing house and even purchasing a very small, older house in a nearby run-down neighborhood.  The option that won was to build a separate building on the back of our residential lot.  She got a studio, and I got a darkroom.  We called the building the “Art Dept.”.

The new building was 16 x 24, and two story.  The upper floor was hers, and the lower floor was mine.  I had the option to partition off as much of the lower floor as needed for the darkroom.  For some reason that surely must have seemed good at the time, I built the darkroom at 7 x 10 feet.  The darkroom I had left at my previous job was really not functionally any bigger, since it was all on one side.  This seemed to me to give 18-20 feet of linear work area, which was larger than what I had had at the company.

I partitioned off a corner of the lower floor.  In hindsight, I should have extended the partition all of the way across the short end of the building so that the darkroom was 7 x 15 (“nominal 16”), rather than 7 x 10.

My splurge purchase for this darkroom was an 8 foot sink.  This became the wet side, with a small table to hold the print washer just to the side of the sink.  On the dry side, an old 9 foot door – salvaged off of a neighbor’s trash pile – was repurposed as a counter top over a couple of cheap melamine cabinets.

Heat and AC was supplied by the central system for the building.  Plumbing was run from the main house.  Initially, I was still using the Chromega B I had bought for that first rent house darkroom, but another photographer let me have an old, well-worn but serviceable Omega D5 for not much money.  I made all my exhibition prints for the Texas Church Project and printed my 2006 and 2008 portfolios in this darkroom. ( )

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