FALLS CHURCH — When Andy relocated to northern Virginia near Washington, DC, he knew he needed to build a studio in his backyard.
A sculptor for more than 30 years, Andy wanted to have the space to create large-scale projects close to home.
“It needed it to be a functional space with a lot of light,” Andy recalled. “I need somewhere I can make noise and build with a lot of materials for larger projects. With three kids, there wasn’t going to be room in the house.”
Andy considered renting a workspace but knew that the costs would be prohibitive and “a waste of money,” he said.
Besides, “if I had to travel to get to it, that would have been very discouraging,” he added.
In 2011, Andy ordered and constructed his 14’ by 30’ Modern-Shed art studio, which he has been using ever since to create unique, innovative pieces.
With everyday materials, such as matchsticks or rice paper, Andy sculpts everything from 24-foot paper airplanes (now on display at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport) to 7-foot-long dress shoes made out of black licorice, silicone and Styrofoam.
Right now, Andy is working on a 200-pound, 43-inch diameter globe, made with 300,000 matches dipped in paint and flame retardant.
His Modern-Shed art studio affords him the space to work on the project, which has taken more than a year, in an environment close to home.
“I built in a long work bench just inside door on the right with a shelf to store tools and materials,” Andy said. “I kept the back wall clear of outlets and baseboards … the walls are white, which allows me to put up my work and see it without a visual distraction.”
The matchstick piece will be on display at an art fair in New York in early May.
Andy plans to build a deck around his shed, so that he can work on the more “messy” elements of his work, like cutting, sanding and grinding pieces.
As it sits now, the Modern-Shed suits the space available in his backyard, Andy said.
“I didn’t just want it to take over the backyard and I wanted keep it somewhat reasonable for expense reasons,” he said. “The city was extremely easy to work with.”
As an artist, Andy took great care in selecting the colors of his Modern-Shed.
“I like the idea of red trim, it reminded of the red frames you see around Japanese prints,” he said. “I didn’t want it to jump out, but I wanted to have an accent on the windows and trims.”
The neighbors love Andy’s Modern-Shed — one elderly woman has told him that the light shining from the shed gives her comfort at night.
“It’s really quite beautiful at night,” he said. “The neighbors love the way it looks, and they like the idea that this is in the backyard. Most of my social life is parents of my kids, and the dads come over and say, ‘I wish we had one of these things.’”
What attracts his neighbors to the Modern-Shed is what attracted Andy to the company in the first place.
“Modern-Shed is not just a functional tool shed kind of thing, it’s got visual appeal and it makes you want to be out there,” he said. “The clerestory windows lifted off the roof, it’s a nice, simple design. It’s got design integrity … I’m very happy in it and I’m glad I got it. It’s been a really great space to work with. I feel like it’s a second skin.”