Thursday, August 01, 2013

Storage is getting to be an issue ... plus new work and new phone!

 (Above:  Detail of Stained Glass LXVI.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

Several years ago I thought I'd never have my mentor's storage problem.  Imagining "too much art" ... piled up, in the way, overflowing bins, and having to step over older work ... well, it wasn't a situation that I thought would ever apply to me.  It is, however, happening.  It is a growing problem and I'm now seeking creative solutions. 

(Above:  Stephen Chesley's studio ... several years ago ... before it became almost impossible to see the floor.)

Its been over six years ago since the photo above was taken.  In the meantime, my mentor, Stephen Chesley has only produced more work ... lots more work.  His studio is now a total maze and the floor can barely be seen.  It is generally necessary for Stephen to step over paintings and stacks of sketches in order to get to his easel.

My studio is across the hallway.  Mine is smaller.  I don't store many finished work there.  It is FULL ... just piles of polyester stretch velvet, tubs of vintage fabric, lots of "stuff", my machines, etc.  Almost everything I make ends up at Mouse House, Inc., the business I own with my husband Steve Dingman.  We live upstairs.  Downstairs used to be a full-service custom picture framing business specializing in antiquarian prints and framed decorative mirrors.  We forcibly down-sized in 2001 ... went from fourteen on payroll to just Steve and me.  That's when I admitted that I wanted "to be an artist when I grew up".  With nearly 2000 square feet of commercial space downstairs, I never thought I'd fill it up with my own art ... not in a hundred years ... certainly not in twelve! 

(Above:  Unpacking six boxes from Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona.)

At the end of last week my solo show, Decision Portraits, closed at Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona.  Yesterday six boxes arrived.  It took the morning to unload, break down boxes, and figure out exactly where to put nearly 108 pieces of artwork. (Please note ... almost everything on the walls in this area is more of my artwork.  It is EVERYWHERE at Mouse House.)

(Above:  Decision Portraits at Mouse House.)

Steve and I have been slowing selling off our stash of antiquarian prints through various auction houses.  This has made room in our gallery for some of my artwork.  After a little rearranging, I got the portraits on three shelves.

(Above:  Gallery at Mouse House.)

The rearranging simply meant that my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts had to be stacked a little higher on four other shelves.  As you can see in the photo above, the entire display table's surface is covered with my creations.  The other side of the room is also full of art.

(Above:  Stained Glass LXVI in its black linen liner leaning against the back door.  Later it will be fitted into a frame with Plexiglas.)

So what am I doing about the storage issue?  Making more work, of course ... like Stained Glass LXVI.  Last week my sister Wanda, a talented counted thread embroiderer in Munich, posted photos on her blog.  She apologized for the "poor photos".  Yet, her pictures were in many ways much more "real".  She included her eyeglasses and allowed the taped edge of her piece to show.  Her photos instantly allowed me to feel like I was actually LOOKING at the piece, not just seeing a near perfect shot to the exclusion of everything else.  Thus, I decided to show Stained Glass LXVI "before" cropping the image!  Above and below are really the same picture.  One is just cropped!  (The detail photo is at the head of this blog post.) 

(Above:  Stained Glass XLVI.  64" x 24" framed; 57" x 17", unframed.  Polyester stretch velvets, previously painted Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web, metallic foiling; self-guided free-motion machine embroidery, soldering, melting.)

Frequently, I photograph my work at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... outside both Chesley's and my studio door.  The natural lighting from the overhead skylights is wonderful.  The walls are neutral white.  I have a tripod there too.  Yet, I'm trying really hard to make enough "In Box" and "Stained Glass" pieces for two retail shows in November so I'm now just leaning the pieces up against the back door and hand holding the camera.  The photos aren't the best ... but they'll do! 

 (Above:  Stephen Chesley's inventory book.)

There are so many things to do when making art ... like entering every piece into an inventory book.  Above is an example ... one of Stephen Chesley's.  Mine is also an ordinary ledger ... just like Stephen Chesley's ... just like Edward Hopper's ... only mine isn't half as beautiful.  My thumbnail sketches aren't pretty but I do keep track of everything!  I also keep a three-ring binder for all current projects and with prospectus for upcoming opportunities ... all organized by each event's earliest deadline.

 (Above:  Wooden spool Christmas ornaments.)

During the evening this past week, I've also been turning some of my wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools into Christmas ornaments.  They are fun to make and I love selecting the vintage buttons for each one.  Many of the glass beads were given to me by Deborah Langsam, a member of Fiber Arts Options.  I've had one rule with these wooden spools ... BUY NOTHING/USE YOUR STASH.  So far, so good! 

 (Above:  Wooden spool Christmas ornaments at Mouse House.)

I've got a problem though ... I only had enough wire Christmas hangers to display a few of the ornaments at Mouse House.  The photo above is within a foot of the shelves with the Decision Portraits.

(Above:  Fiber vessel filled with wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools beside a plastic tub for a Christmas ornaments.)

I guess I'll have to break down and buy some of these wire hangers because I've got lots more ornaments ready to hang.  I've also got two other fiber vessels besides the one pictured above full of wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools.  By the way, I'm only using the ones WITHOUT the thumbnails of old family photos.  I've got two vessels full of those too.  This is an obsession ... and storage is beginning to be a problem!

(Above:  Pepto II).

One of the possible solutions to the storage problems is to sell some of this stuff.  In order to make this happen, I've applied and been accepted to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and the Washington Craft show.  There's a local show too ... where I hope to sell some Christmas ornaments.  Yet, one must be able to accept major credit cards ... via a smart phone.  I had a smart phone named Pepto.  YES, of course it had a name!  The one and only color I didn't want for a protective cover was "girlie pink".  Naturally, that was the only color available two years ago on the night I bought the phone.  To downplay the overly feminine look, I named the photo Pepto.  Everyone in my family now refers to my phone by name.  Well, Pepto might have been smart but he was just old enough to be an model that refused to accept PayPal or The Square for credit card processing.  So ... drum roll please ... let me introduce PEPTO II.  Yes, I could have changed colors ... but at this point ... Why?

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art works.


Julie said...

I think most of us are pretty bad at organising our storage and workspace, I know I am. The Christmas decorations are novel and very attractive. If they're for sale I'm sure they'll go like hotcakes!

Judy Ferguson said...

I doubt that there is an artist on the face of this Earth who does not have this same problem. With sagging sales, due to the economy, this has gotten seriously bad. I have been making charity donations with some of it. I like your thumbnail idea. I just keep a ledger.

Anonymous said...

Acho que este é um problema comum a todos que "fazem". Não se desespere, tudo se ajeita... (risos)
Os enfeites de Natal estão lindos!
Um abraço!

I think this is a problem common to all who "make". Do not panic, everything settles ... (laughs)
The Christmas decorations are beautiful!

Els said...

Ha, Susan, I think that's the "problem" with artists : they can't stop creating !! ;-)
(and please don't !)
Love the wooden spools ! (so sorry I don't live near by and look for a few)

Wanda said...

I don't think I ever realized all that you do. I thought you just created art and...oh, I don't know. I figured your house was big enough to house it all I guess. I didn't know you have ledgers and records and stuff. Wow....yet another new Dimension to the multi-faceted Artist you are in my mind. I think your storage ideas look good. Of course, I realize that it is all full to the max so that doesn't really help when you have new things that also Need stored. I would volunteer to take some supplies off your Hands but I don't think that is the Problem!

Nancy said...

Yup, I think that mu stash of buttons, bead, ribbons, and frou-frou multiplies in the night. I couldn't have possibly have bought that much stuff!