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Portlanders Remodel Their Garage Into an Airy, Two-Story Studio
Sunset Magazine, 1986

by: Elaine Cogan

The needs of a growing professional career and the desire to continue work ing at home made artists Sara and Fred Harwin undertake a major remodeling of their suburban Portland home in 1982. The project transformed their drafty, one-story garage into a spacious, two-story studio.

"When we decided to remodel, an important consideration was that the finished product not look like a commercial studio from the outside. This is first and foremost our home;" explains Sara, whose fine paintings, serigraphs and lithographs attract national attention. A graduate of the University of Michigan, her work is represented in various U.S. galleries and museums.

For the first few years that she, her husband and their small daughter lived in Portland, Sara worked in the garage. With the addition of a space heater and fluorescent lights, it was a tolerable artist's space, although she had to put on her long underwear to endure the cold winter air which seeped through the cracks.

When the Harwins remodeled, the garage was equipped with new wiring, lighting, heating and plumbing. It is now a professional printing studio, complete with a griding sink, racks for storing lithography stories, an inking table, oversized work counters and paper storage rooms, and two printing presses. One of the two messes is an antique Washington Proof Press used to print Sara's original linoleum and wood block prints. The second, a Broadway Transfer Press manufactured by Ratcliffe of Leeds, England, is one of only two of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

One remodeling problem the Harwins faced was how to protect their large presses when the walls of the original garage studio were torn down. Instead of taking the chance of moving and possibly damaging the presses, the Hartivins protected them from the elements by building a temporary enclosure; the new room was then built around the presses. During the three-month construction period, Sara first tried working on the dining room table, but ended up transferring to another printing studio in Portland.

The $60,000 remodeling also added a spacious, airy second story studio above the garage. Sara now has plenty of room for the different requirements of paint- ing and drawing. The studio's many windows let in ample natural light to take full advantage of the southern exposure and provide opportunities for passive solar heating.

The careful design and construction was supervised by Fred Harwin, a na- tionally known specialist in creating artificial eyes who also earned a degree in interior architecture from Wayne State University in Detroit. His main studio is in the Devers Eye clinic in northwest Portland, but he has abundant space in their remodeled home to pursue his other career as a medical illustrator.

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Harwin Studios   |   9101 SW 15th Ave.   |   Portland, Oregon 97219   |   Phone (503) 246-7479   |   Fax (503) 246-7479   |