Backyard escape: Women use creativity, interests to craft She Sheds

Backyard escape: Women use creativity, interests to craft She Sheds

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By Melinda Mawdsley
Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Lori Twardowski-Raper in her She Sheds, potter studio at her Palisade home.


Artist Kay Crane works in her current studio in her home on Orchard Mesa.


Artist Kay Crane is remodeling an unused room in her home on Orchard Mesa, which she will turn into her studio.


Lori Twardowski-Raper in her She Sheds, potter studio at her Palisade home.

If men get Man Caves to escape to, where do women go?

It’s a question Popsugar, a website geared toward women, asked and answered in a February article introducing readers to a trend popping up in women’s backyards called the She Shed.

A number of Women across the country are converting backyard sheds, garages or spaces outside the traditional home into serene, relaxing and creative spaces just for them.

Women are using She Sheds for gardening, reading, scrapbooking, socializing, and practicing yoga or other forms of relaxing meditation, according to Popsugar.

Some women have gone so far as to turn sheds into miniature cottages one might imagine in a fairy tale or fable.

Even home-improvement chain Lowe’s is on board with She Sheds and has an instructional video on its website giving viewers tips on how to build a custom She Shed.

Although the idea of building a shed from scratch or cleaning out an old tool shed might seems like a daunting and dirty task, Palisade’s Lori Twardowski-Raper and Grand Junction’s Kay Crane would tell any woman out there a She Shed is worth it.

“This is where I disappear to,” said Twardowski-Raper, whose husband has a Man Cave where he can retreat and play video games.

Twardowski-Raper converted an L-shaped garage into a She Shed eight years ago when her family moved from their large Redlands home into a more modest Palisade house closer to Palisade High School where she and her husband, Troy Raper, both teach.

“I think this sold me on the house,” Twardowski-Raper said, joking that she had a She Shed before it became trendy.

As a professional potter, Twardowski-Raper uses her She Shed as a space allocated to her wheel, extensive art supplies and storage of in-progress and completed pots, bowls and mugs for her business, Musical Mud Studios.

To create a more functional She Shed out of the old garage, she and her husband added insulation, motion detector lights and an Apple TV so Twardowski-Raper can immerse herself in TV series, such as “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” while making pottery.

Eventually, Twardowski-Raper would like to add additional windows, more insulation, a coat of paint and a floor finish and have her girlfriends over for wine and pottery parties.

“Wouldn’t it be cool?” she asked.

A dedicated space to work on art is the same reason Crane, director of the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade, is investing in a She Shed.

Crane has lived in her Grand Junction home for 10 years but only recently decided to turn her basement into a rental suite for extra income. That meant she had to move her art studio.

That’s when she began to look with new eyes at a 12 by 30 foot room with a dirt floor attached to the east side her house that had never been more than a collect-all storage space.

The previous owner called it “The Scary Room,” Crane said with a laugh. Crane kept the name until she needed a new studio.

“All of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said.

Crane had a cement floor put in to start the process of converting the scary room into a She Shed. She would like the project to be finished by mid-summer.

“Now, I’m really excited about it,” she said. “Once I saw the floor and that clean expanse, it was like, ‘This is gonna be cool.’”

Crane plans to install an eight-foot window on the north wall to let in natural light — the perfect side of the house for an artist, she said — and another window on the east wall. She’s going to add special décor touches to make it equal parts studio and living space for “welcoming, relaxing contemplative creativity.”

And just as creativity is individual, so are She Sheds in that they give permission for women to find a space at their home and make it their own.

“Mine’s not feminine, but it’s mine,” Twardowski-Raper said.