Friday, August 17, 2012
Raising the Canopy
(Above: The Canopy. It is UP! Click on this and any other image in this blog post for an enlargement.)
I didn't keep track of the hours of hand-stitching involved in creating my 10' x 18' canopy. Whatever number it was can't compare to the number of hours put in by the anonymous makers of all the doilies, runners, and lace trim! It is, however, hard to believe that I managed this project, from design to installation, in twelve days. (Okay, an art residency does allow one to put in 12 - 14 hour days and I did just that ... a combination of sheer fear and total excitement. It is more than a little risky taking on a project for which a reception time is already scheduled before work is attempted!)
(Above: Stitching chiffon tubes to the reverse of the canopy.)
Help with hoisting the giant canopy was available. I didn't ask for help though. I couldn't imagine how I would direct such a venture when I wasn't exactly sure how it was all going to work out! But ... first ... let me back up a bit.
(Above: The giant canopy on the floor with my Bernina 1630 in place ... midway through stitching one of five chiffon tubes to the reverse.)
In order to hoist this canopy, I brought 1" in diameter PVC pipes. They come in ten foot lengths ... which certainly won't fit into my car and aren't exactly an optimal length for shipping should this piece have opportunities to be installed elsewhere (which I hope is the case!) I had the five pipes cut into halves and purchase t-connectors for them. My plan was to create chiffon tubes and stitch them onto the reverse of the canopy. The PVC pipes were to be slid into these chiffon tubes. Extra strong wire was purchased and brought to run through the PVC pipes and hoist the canopy into the air ... wire secured from the ceiling.
(Above: Stitching the chiffon tubes to the reverse of the canopy.)
I used chiffon leftover from my Decision and Epitaph banners. Making them was easy. Attaching them wasn't so easy! There was no better place to do this than on the floor. The center tube required, of course, half the canopy to squish through the space between the needle and the arm of the machine. I had a long extension cord in use and also had to continuously move the machine backwards every few feet. Naturally, each tube required ten feet of pinning and at least two passes with the machine. Now this is definitely "contemporary" stitching!
(Above: The canopy with the PVC installed inside the chiffon tubes.)
I cut "holes" in the centers of each tube to allow space for the t-connector. Each leg of PVC was slid into the tube from the outside and fit into the t-connector in the middle.
(Above: Chiffon tubes and PVC pipes.)
Because the canopy is fairly fragile, I wanted the tubes to be stitched on both sides to the reverse.
(Above: Center chiffon tube and PVC.)
The chiffon is sheer enough not to detract from the canopy but strong enough to really hold the PVC pipes.
(Above: Getting ready to hoist the canopy.)
So ... now to hoist the thing! It seemed wise to place the canopy as far off the floor as safely possible in order to minimize the lifting required. I placed the nice, very heavy table under the center PVC pipe and got out the really big ladder.
Next, I positioned the two PVC pipes directly beside the center one on the table ... making sure the canopy wasn't "stuck" under any of the pipes. I ran the wire through the center pipe. (By the way ... because the overhead pipes were narrower than ten feet, I also inserted 10' metal electrical pipes inside the PVC to prevent sagging. Screwing in perfectly placed hooks wasn't an option; this is an antique tin ceiling!)
I dragged the ladder from side to side ... securing the wire on a pipe on one side, hoisting from the other as far as I could, returning to the other side to straighten out the pipe, re-returning to hoist some more, etc.
I set my camera up on a tripod and snapped a delayed photo ... just for scale. I'm a little afraid of heights but this ladder was really stable and I did simply "take my time" and "tried to enjoy" the adventure!
Soon, the center PVC pipe was raised and fairly level and at the point where the next two pipes would come off the table. Hoist!
One at a time, the next two PVC pipes were fitted with wire and raised off the table.
This allowed me the first peak at what the canopy would look like. I got excited and the rest of the work really was easier than I'd feared. It was wonderful seeing each pull on the wires bring a vision into a reality.
By the time the three center pipes were up, the final two, end pipes were just dangling ... waiting to for wire and "elbow grease" to pull them into place.
Of course, the two end pipes had "something special". This is where I attached the fiber bed posts!
At this point I was really thrilled and took a photo with my phone to send to Steve back in Columbia. I had to share what I knew would be "success"!
Soon afterwards, all four fiber bedposts were up. The canopy was in place!
Of course, it was nearly 11 PM at night. I knew I'd have to return this morning for better images ... without the gallery lights. I did manage to sleep despite the relief and happiness. Below are the photos from this morning in no particular order. The reception for this work is next Friday, August 24th from 6 - 8. I have plenty of time to finish the public sock art quilt project (which is nearly done!) and perhaps to create the 56 feet of "fringe" I've been thinking about making to dangle from the perimeter of the canopy. Wouldn't that be pretty?
Posted by Susan Lenz at 1:27 PM