The Art in Fiber

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Lana Book wrote
on 18 Mar 2010 8:26 AM

Hi Debbie, when this post showed up on my email I responed via email but don't know if you got that. Tips? Boy, Im a novice at this. For me the biggest drawback to approaching a gallery is my own fear of rejection and that nasty voice inside that says "your stuff isn't good enough". Im working on getting over that.  But for some practical tips:  Visit some galleries and see what they are displaying. You could even do this online but if you go in person you have a chance to establish a "relationship" so to speak with them. Find one or two you are interested in and ask if they would be receptive to looking at your work. Write a artist statement and put together some pictures. Maybe they would rather see a sampling of your work instead of pictures. Ask if you can make a appointment to bring some things in at their convenience. Take the artist statement. Maybe they have a call for entries like the Copper Shade Tree does that you could submit a entry  to. You know, most of us are not good at selling ourselves artistically. It is scary. But so far noone has knocked on my door from a gallery and asked to see my work so guess we have to approach them. I don't remember which Quilting Arts magazines it was but one had a article in it about approaching galleries and one about artist statements. I keep all mine so have a library of QA magazines.  Like I said, Im no expert but hope some of this helps. Also, consider taking a friend with you as moral support or a glass of wine before. But let the friend drive.

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Lana Book wrote
on 18 Mar 2010 8:34 AM

I think you did a great job. I like to use canvases also but so far have only wrapped the fabric around them to mount the piece. I want to try to do something similar to what you have done and tack / sew the piece to the canvas after it has been painted but Im not a painter. May try it with the next peice.

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Posts 128
on 18 Mar 2010 10:10 AM

Lana, what great advice.  You made me chuckle with the comment about wine!  I'd rather have the gallery people come to my house and drink my wine while looking at my work!  I know the exact feeling of 'my work isn't good enough.'  My group of friends are very supportive but I always have that inner voice saying, 'oh yeah they have to say something nice.'  I'll look up that back issue of Quilting Arts.  I have a vague memory of it.  I have joined Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center.  They have an open membership show on April 22nd.  I hope to have two new pieces together for that show.  I guess I should contact the Copper Shade Tree and ask to be included on their call for entries for the 2011 show.  I really liked those people.  Thanks, again.  Let's meet for coffee someday.

 

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Lana Book wrote
on 18 Mar 2010 12:33 PM

Yes, lets do get together. Would love that. Let me know when you will be in Kerrville and if Im not working I will meet you. If you want to email me direct you can do that at elmcott@hctc.net. I like to enter challenges and shows because it gives me incentive to keep going. I like the idea about bringing the gallery to your house for wine. Even better!!

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Peggy Szasz wrote
on 18 Mar 2010 5:24 PM

Hi Deborah,  When I went in search of galleries.....I would park the car and my daughter  would call me on my cell phone and tell me to get out of the car.....I would race into the different local galleries and pass over a nice folder of photos, and bio.....and basically say, if you are interested, give me a call.  I didn't hear anything from any of them for a few months....just about decided to give up and close out my little....little business.  Then one day my cell phone rang and it was one of the galleries.  They wanted to know if I could bring some quilts down for them to see.    I made the appointment and made sure the quilts were good to go.  My stomach was in knots and they really looked all the quilts over.  Not too much was really said....I started the pack up the quilts and used the ole standby....if you are interested.....give me a call.  I was told, if I could wait just a few minutes the contract could be printed.  And so it goes.....I just had my 6th year with the gallery.  Great gallery, great owners....and now have a following of customers who know when the quilts will be hanging.  Some show up before the opening just so they can buy before the others.  For me, it has been a great experience.  I love the contact with people.  So, be brave.  Know that every gallery you approach will not give you the time of day.....you will find one that will fall in love with your quilts....and the rest will be history. 

P.S. At my first gallery reception, I would hear the owner of the gallery tell customers that the artist is right over there....and I can not tell you how many times I turned to find the artist........then realized she was talking about me.  Peggy from Michigan

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ReginaW@8 wrote
on 18 Mar 2010 6:35 PM

I have been following this thread and am really learning alot. Deborah your work is wonderful and they look so good mounted on the canvas. Beverly and Lana - thanks for your tips and how to's. Peggy - your story gives me hope. I have been working on projects since last summer - trying to get a large enough group to go to a gallery and try to get them in. There is one gallery I have my eye on to try first. It is a co-op gallery.  To enter items in their gallery you have to submit pictures of your work and they look at new pieces four times a year. I am wondering if I can take pictures with my digital camera or do I need to have professional pictures done of my work. I checked into having a photographer do them and the cost is really out of my ball park. Does anyone have any suggestions?  There is the possibility of buying a new camera and I was wondering what I need to look for in types of cameras to get reallly good pictures. Thanks, Regina from California

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Posts 128
on 18 Mar 2010 9:05 PM

Hi, Peggy, what a great and wonderful story you have shared with all of us!  I am trying my best to get a supply of art quilts.  I have a goal to turn out an 8x10 every week.  Also, I want to do what I do best and not experiment so much until I get a good supply of completed projects.  I am still looking at the various galleries in my area.  I appreciate you sharing these experiences with me and everyone who reads this.  Thanks so much.  Debbie

 

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Posts 128
on 18 Mar 2010 9:11 PM

Hi, Regina.  I too am concerned with the quality of my photos.  I have used a Kodak EasyShare z740 for several years.  It is very easy to use and download photos.  I think the most important factor is the number of pixels.  This camera is 10 megapixels.  This gives me a very detailed image.  However, I don't know if this will be good enough to take fabulous photos of my quilts once I am putting together a portfolio.  I too would like to know what others are using.  Good luck to you.   It sounds like you and I are at that jumping off point.  I hope we do as well as Peggy and Lana!  Thanks, Debbie

 

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on 19 Mar 2010 1:28 AM

Hi Deborah, I like this idea. I found when framing my art, I kept limiting myself with the random size of what ever I felt like doing and THEN I had to pay for custom framing.  I soon worked out it would be better to make art the correct size from the start, (slow learner) so now I have a list from the framers that has all the standard sizes on it and so that is where I start when planning something new. So, that s a long way of saying, yes I agree, go and find the standard canvas sizes before you start the next quilt!

Trying to peer at your photos here, did you tack the quilt on to the canvas at the outer edge of the binding or the inner edge where the black binding meets the front of the quilt?  I wonder if you leave the outer edge 'free', it will look like it floats on the canvas backing.  Just thinking out loud here, I guess it would depend how 'deep' the binding is, you wouldn't want it to flop over a the top.

I love the whole idea though and will certainly try it out. Buying those stretched canvases will be so much more affordable than framing! I may end up with less UFO's!!   

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Peggy Szasz wrote
on 19 Mar 2010 4:30 AM

Hi Regina,  I am glad that you liked my gallery shopping story.  Photographing quilts is hard!!!  My husband takes literally tons of photos of the quilts that will be used by the gallery for publicity.  We use a digital camera.  Out of the tons of photos he takes there is always one that is good.  He is a great photographer, but it is difficult to get the right lighting, make sure the wind doesn't blow a corner.  I have a professional quilt stand and we set it up outside where the lighting is good.....hope this helps a bit.  Peggy

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Peggy Szasz wrote
on 19 Mar 2010 4:35 AM

I had 20 quilts to take to the gallery appointment.  I had a variety...flowers, wildlife, etc.  I have sent out packets of information to lots of other galleries and most of the time, I heard nothing back.  So, don't get discouraged.   Remember I dropped off my packet to my gallery in April and didn't hear anything until August.....happy quilting and gallery hunting!!!  Peggy

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Posts 128
on 19 Mar 2010 7:38 AM

Hi barbsthreadart.  I think the thing which makes the quilt float over the canvas is to back the quilt with several layers of felt.  For the longhorn quilt, I chose a canvas which was the same size as the quilt.  I tacked two layers of felt to the back of the quilt.  Then I tacked through the felt and the canvas as close to the wood of the canvas as possible.   I couldn't get real close to the binding of the quilt because the wood from the stretcher bar is on the back of the canvas.  I tried to get a photo from the side so that you can see that the quilt is about a quarter inch off the canvas.  For the fisherman quilt, I put the felt only in the area of the picture.  I wanted that to poof up above the canvas.  The various borders of this quilt lie flat against the canvas.  In this case I tacked at the intersection of the border and the picture.  I think it will be fun for you to test different ways to do this.  It has been for me!  Debbie

 

 

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Lana Book wrote
on 19 Mar 2010 7:42 AM

Peggy, what a wonderful story you have shared. I can certainly relate to those feelings. My heart pounds  just thinking about aproaching a gallery or other venue about my work. But if you don't put it out there nothing will happen. You were very brave. I had to laugh about your daughter calling you to tell you to get out of the car and it made me smile and happy for you when you realized the gallery owner was talking about you when she said the artist is right over there. I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a artist. Im going to keep your story and read it when those old doubts rise up.

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Posts 133
on 19 Mar 2010 10:55 AM

I take my photos myself and  like stitching its another skill to learn, and I don't think I'm brilliant at it.  A couple of things to remember, if you are asked for a photo of the entire piece, make sure it is the entire piece, missing off an edge or a corner, can be an automatic rejection.

I always have my camera set to the top quality setting - its called different things on different cameras, but you want the most pixels per inch, or simplest, for example this size card and this setting gives you, 400 pictures, this setting gives you 200 pictures and this setting gives you 80 pictures.  So you can easily see the quality rating goes up with the fewer pics you can store on the card.  300dpi (dots per inch) is what is usually needed for printing, be that your own printing or sending to someone to print, ie a pic for a leaflet.  72 dpi is what is usually needed for web use - you can see what a big difference in quality that makes - so I might take my pic at 300 dpi, and then save a version at 72 dpi, and I add 'web' into the title of the piece when I save it, so I know its lesser quality.

I've been terrified of trying for things, worried I'll be rejected... and then worried they might say yes!!!  It does get easier with time, and it isn't always the work that's rejected, it can be timing, it just doesn't match up with what is planned.  You can do what I did, if such opportunities exist, apply to put work up in somewhere like a hospital or a hospice.  Of course its not the same as a gallery in terms of venue, but in my experience, the methods, all the things you need to do, the paperwork, labels, hanging etc etc is exactly the same.  so you get to learn without the self pressure of I must get into this venue.  Places such as this welcome art, because its a way to enhance the environment, to change it periodically, and at no expense, I don't pay them, except a commission on sales.  Have a look around outside of  just thinking galleries and you might be surprised where opportunities can be found.

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on 19 Mar 2010 12:45 PM

Hi Deborah,

Debbie and Gerald from Copper Shade Tree forwarded your email asking about how the mounting on canvas was done.  I had several pieces in the show so thought I would put my 2 cents in! I scanned the posts in this thread and it appears that you have pretty much covered it all!  While I always say I am "not" a quilter many of my pieces could technically be considered a quilt.  Somehow I just conjure up my grand mother's quilts when I say that word!  I do wish we could find something that is not stereotyped.  I digress.....back to the Canvas - I purchase deep sided canvas from either Cheap Joe's or Jerry's Artarama.  They come in packs of 6 - 10 depending on the size you order and are relatively inexpensive that way.  Better yet if you do a group purchase so you can reduce shipping expenses.   I personally do not like stitching THROUGH the canvas so I attach whatever I am mounting to fabric then stretch the fabric over the canvas.  Wrapping it like a gift package - I always staple the fabric to the back side being sure to rotate around the four sides to ensure the wrap is tight.  I ALWAYS finish the back with either another piece of fabric turned (hemmed) or felt that is either glued or stitched to the stretched fabric.  I try to use wire for hanging rather than the saw-tooth hangers.  I know there are many that do not consider the back side but I feel that it shows a bit of professionalism to have the back side neat and finished.   Jane Dunnewold has a DVD out on finishing techniques called Frame It!  that might be of interest - it is at http://www.artclothstudios.com/store.php?cat=5 and runs #35.00.  I believe she covers how to stretch your work over a canvas.

You are correct in stating that many of the canvases were painted - that is an easy way to "complete" the piece but then you have to either glue your art work (quilt) or stitch it down.  Again - I choose not to do that method because I don't want to stitch through the canvas!  I will glue a piece to canvas with E6000 before I stitch it down! 

Now on the topic of "not good enough" -  Jeanne Beck - another wonderful fiber artist and quilter - posted a "TED talk" on her blog recently - http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/453 - it discusses just this statement!  How we personalize our work and blame ourselves if someone else doesn't like it.  I enjoyed watching this because it gives me a new way of thinking about what I create - that I am a partner with my "genius" and if it doesn't go well I can always blame the partner rather than tell myself  "I" am not good enough!  YES YOU ARE!!!!  Your knight in shining armor will come along and LOVE all that you do - and they will come!  We have to remember that art is a matter of taste - there are no "rules" no "pattern or recipe" to follow so how can we say that the work isn't "good enough".

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