If you're running out of room in your house/garage and are looking at building yourself a workshop or studio in the garden for your glass fusing, here are some things to think about:
Yes, size does matter. Partly because your local planning regulations will tell you how big your new workshop can be and how close to the house it can be, and also partly because it needs to be able to fit all your stuff! Get the biggest workshop you can afford which is within the regulations - you can never have too much room! If you want something bigger, you can apply for planning permission but bear in mind that this will take longer / be expensive / make the process a lot more complicated.
Be a good neighbour
It is also worth having a chat to your neighbours before you make your final decision on location, to make sure that they are on side. Also, if you put your shed right up against the boundary remember that you won't be able to put a gutter on that side without their permission, nor will you be able to get down there to paint that side of your shed! It's a good idea to leave an 18" gap, or enough for you to squeeze down with a paintbrush, as that will help to reduce issues in the future and keep your workshop in good condition.
Are you tall or short?
Think about what height you would like your work bench to be - do you sit or stand when you cut glass / design your pieces / work on your grinder etc. You might want to have a couple of different heights of bench as if you're working on your tile saw that adds at least 6 inches to your working height.
You can never have too much workbench!
Check your ceiling heights, especially if you are tall or you like to stand up to work! Sheds / workshops tend to be a bit low and can feel claustrophobic if you're in there all day.
Wet work or dry work?
Do you do a lot of coldworking? Do you want to make yourself an area you can hose down? You could use lino flooring and put a plug in the middle with a sink trap underneath to catch the glass particles. Shower curtains also make great protective screens.
Yes, power. Get a qualified electrician to give you some advice about powerpoints - you can get cable laid to your new workshop and it can be on its own fuse board - this is the best option and much safer - means if something goes phut it won't take the house down too!
Yes, I said it, webcam. If you can get a webcam into your shed, especially if your kiln will be in there, it's a really good idea as it means you can check on your kiln from the comfort of your house in the middle of the night, rather than having to brave the British weather and unexpected slugs!
If you're going to have a workshop at the end of your garden, you need a path wide enough for a sack trolley so you can get your heavy glass deliveries down there. This also reduces the amount of mud trekked into your workshop by you / your students / the cat! Also you need to get your kiln down there somehow too!
Your kiln and the width of your doorway
Yes, your kiln needs to fit through the door. Double doors (or 1.5 doors - one big one small) are a really good idea. I like the "one big one small" type of doors as it means you can walk through normally most of the time and just open it up when you want extra air or need to move something big. Also bear in mind that your kiln will need clearance around it, so do leave an extra foot or two all round when you're planning, especially if you do a lot of hot work / casting.
Be sure about your floor. You want something you can sweep and mop, and that is smooth enough that it won't hold on to glass particles. Some people have poured concrete floors, but this can be really cold on your feet - it's a really good idea if you do vitrigraph though as the hot glass can melt other floorings. You can get industrial carpet, but I'm a bit wary of that. Lino is lovely, and you can get underlay with it too if you want to be really comfyposh!
One of the most important parts of your studio. Consider shelving with covers or curtains in front, even transparent ones, as this stops the dust getting all over your supplies and moulds. You'll want somewhere near the floor to store sheet glass, vertically, plus storage for smaller sheets, and scrap (keep it separated by colour - heavy duty ziploc bags can be good if you don't have a lot). Also frit and powder - those "over door shoe storage" pocket things can be quite fun as a starter, or those "narrow shelving for cans" - try Lakeland - are great for the 450g jars. Do not underestimate the growing power of your supplies stash! Moulds can go higher up, but again make sure you have enough room and that you can either wrap them or put a door on the storage so they don't get dusty. Underglaze pencils can be great to write reference numbers on your moulds, and also to make a note of which kilnwash / MR97 spray you have used on which mould.
Insulation and Heating
Get insulation for the walls and ceiling so you can work in there in winter and remember to allow for this in your floorplan as it will take about a foot of length/width off your shed. Remember that your nice warm kiln won't be on all the time. A little wall mounted bathroom heater is a lovely thing, as are those mini oil filled radiators. If it's just your feet that get cold you can actually get battery powered heated socks (look into motorcycle gear!).
You can run the garden hose up if you need to, but a water butt is a good way to have some basic water out there without needing a plumber ... if you mount it above waist level you can have other storage underneath and also get some water pressure!
You might want to have an outdoor area for doing work during the nicer 3 days of summer, or for doing messy cold working. Covering this with an awning or possibly polypropylene sheeting means you can use it even when it's raining, and can also be a great place for sitting out during your annual monsoon BBQ! Do make sure this area has a floor you can sweep or mop so you don't get glass in your grass.
Those new LED bulbs are nice - I have one of the "100w equivalent white light" ones in my art room and it's lovely.
Wooden sheds need maintenance and can be draughty if not lined, but are easily repaired. You could consider a portacabin style building, or a concrete garden room if you wanted something more permanent.
Do think about security, and insurance, as that's a lot of kit to leave out and about. The guy who put up my shed told me he once had to go and fix someone's shed when someone had removed the whole wall to get the stuff out! Also, he told me don't get a metal shed - they're horrible for ventilation, they rust, and you can basically break into them with a can opener!!!
If you want your workshop to last, make sure you get a decent base put down. You can get concrete poured to make a hard standing, and for a permanent workshop that would be a good idea. If you want a more affordable / moveable option then you can put down heavy duty landscape fabric and then use wooden bearers to hold up your shed. If your garden is damp / subject to flooding then seriously consider having your workshop up on stilts!
I'd get as many windows as you can for light, but be aware that there's a balance with security. Make sure at least one of your windows opens.If you want to self build or get someone to make you a workshop then you can often pick up double glazed units very cheap in odd sizes (cancelled orders etc) from your local double glazing supplier. If you're going to be teaching then good light is essential - you could consider a skylight but sunburn ... blinds for the windows are a really good idea too as it means you can shut them at night, and also you can pull them down to stop the sun getting in your eyes.
Get an extractor fan. A good one. Ask your local glass supplier to make sure you have the correct extraction for your needs.
Health and Safety / Fire Safety
Don't mess with your health. Have a designated space (near the door) where you keep safety equipment, a suitable fire extinguisher / fire blanket, appropriate goggles / gloves / aprons, and eye wash / steri strips etc. You may not be able to get to the house in an emergency.
It's a really good idea to take your telephone down to the workshop with you as you are working alone and your home address may be on the internet. Also, remember to lock your house if you're working in your workshop.
Your new studio isn't necessarily just a work room, you may want to use it as a gallery or a teaching room too. If you teach, then this room is much easier to double as a gallery than your active workshop - it can be quite frustrating having to be open for customers if you're feeling inspired and can't get into your workshop as you've had to clean it all up!
If you're teaching, then have plenty of room, make sure you have cupboards where you keep the things they're not allowed to use, and a separate set of storage for the things they are allowed to use. Bear in mind that, although you may be used to standing to cut all day your students may not be able to, so do have stools / chairs available for everyone and bear this in mind when planning your workshop space.
I hope that gives you some things to think about. If there's anything else you think I've missed, please do leave me a comment!
Experienced silk painter, glass fuser, teacher, enthusiastic and inspirational.