Friday, February 15, 2013

Buyers Market of American Craft ... We're Here!

(Above:  Booth #1615 at the 2013 Buyers Market of American Craft.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Steve and I have been preparing for this weekend for quite some time ... and now WE'RE HERE in the Philadelphia Convention Center!  Booth #1615 is totally set up and ready for the three days wholesale-only exhibition.  I have three diamond shaped signs on the ProPanel booth wall shown on the left of the photo where, when the photo was taken, there is just one.  One sign reads:  NICHE AWARD FINALIST.  One sign reads:  MERIT AWARD WINNER.  The one had is shown above reads:  First time exhibitor.

The convention staff and the Rosen Group staff have been totally WONDERFUL.  The unload was actually much, much easier than we'd expected.  Plus, we thank those blog readers who, after seeing our "trial run" post from last Sunday, wrote emails suggesting fewer pieces hanging and none resting on the floor ... leaning against the walls.  It is a cleaner look.

 (Above:  Steve by the loaded, rental cargo van.)

Let me back up just a bit.  We started this adventure on Wednesday in Columbia.  The rental cargo van had more than enough room for everything we'd packed ... the ProPanel booth; carpet; a two drawer file cabinet in which to hide my purse, business cards, invoices, and other "paperwork"; the artwork; and our suitcases.  We left after I attended TWO afternoon meetings that were actually scheduled at the same time!  We spent the night near Rocky Mount, NC and made it into Philadelphia on Thursday in time for a very informative "first time exhibitor" workshop presented by the show staff.

(Above:  View from the Exhibition Office to the large convention floor while set-up was going on.  Click on image to enlarge.)

At 8:30 AM this morning we arrived at the back of the Convention Center and pulled up the ramp to the loading docks.  There were plenty of staff people to assist with directions and to answer questions.  Lots of the exhibitors know one another.  Everyone was smiling.  It was actually FUN.  We were unloaded within forty-five minutes.  Steve took the car to the parking garage while I started assembling the walls.  By 11:30 we had leisurely completed our tasks, secured a "photo pass", and took pictures!

The photo pass and my "special signage" came from the Show Office.  From this upper level location, the view to the convention floor was amazing!  The place is so vast that a single camera shot can't take it all in.  So, I shot a video; it is on UTube HERE. There are approximately 800 artist booths and more than 6000 people are expected this weekend!  I'm excited for the show to open tomorrow! 

 (Above:  China Wedge by Mei Ling Hom.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The Philadelphia Convention Center is beautiful and also filled with public art including this fabulous installation under one of the escalators. 

(Above:  China Wedge, detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above:  Neon signs inside the Reading Market.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Across the street from the Convention Center's Main Entrance is the Reading Market.  It was crowded with lunchtime diners and people doing shopping for the weekend.

(Above:  Man with a bundle of fresh flowers buying lunch from an Italian deli at the Reading Market.)

There were too many delicious looking places to eat ... and lots and lots of ethnic food ... from gyros and baklava to pizza and biscotti to chocolate covered pretzels and homemade ice cream to an olive bar and several tanks of really large lobsters in the fish vendors' areas.  The colors were only rivaled by the aromas.

(Above:  Octopi at the Reading Market.)

There were coffee counters and flower stalls.  There was a little shop filled with cook books and even some places with handmade soaps and women's accessories.  A tour group went through too.  Lots of people were picking out fresh produce too.

(Above:  Fresh produce at the Reading Market.)

One this is for sure ... WE WILL NOT STARVE here in Philadelphia.  Today we had a late lunch at an Amish deli.  Steve said the giant dill pickle was FANTASTIC!

(Above:  Steve and his pickle!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keys for MIRCI

(Above:  Keys for MIRCI.  Repurposed window, photo collages, tagged keys on handmade cording.  18" x 24".  Click on image to enlarge.)

Over the weekend I finished up this piece for a local charity auction called 52 Windows and hosted by MIRCI (Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc.)  The event is on May 9th at 701 Whaley here in Columbia.  I like working early and finishing well ahead of schedule.  I hate doing anything "under the gun" or "at the last minute".  Sometimes it happens ... but not if I can help it.

This is the second year for this "evening of art" that asked area artists to repurpose an old, well worn window as a starting point for an art piece.  First, I went to my computer photo files and gathered all the images I had of old doors.  Second, I created the perfectly sized photo-collage and had it printed at Forrest & Grant Photo Imaging.  They are SUPER, fast and have great service.  Then I washed, sanded, and rubbed down the wood ... then cleaned the glass.  The photo was mounted on what had been the interior of the window.  I made ten specially tagged keys and hung them on my favorite copper nails on the exterior side of the window.  I'm really pleased and so was the MIRCI representative who picked up the piece earlier today.

I composed the collage to have a balance design and a pleasing arrangement of color ... then I realized that I had a selection from all over the place!  From left to right on the top row:  Southwalk Cathedral in London, UK; Chester, UK; Worchester, UK; Church of St. Mary-in-Castro, Dover, UK; Harmony, Pennsylvania.  Fron left to right on the bottom row:  Skansen Folk Life Museum, Stockholm, Sweden; Key West, Florida; Varna, Bulgaria; Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tuscon, Arizona; Český Krumlov, The Czech Republic.  The keys are tagged with the following:  Knowledge, Happiness, Prosperity, Success, Health, Faith, Forgiveness, Love, Hope, and Trust.

(Above:  Keys for MIRCI, detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ready for the BUYERS MARKET

(Above: My booth ... trial set up ... here at Mouse House!  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Steve and I are both more than a little nervous about the upcoming Buyers Market wholesale-only trade show of fine American crafts at the Philadelphia Convention Center this coming February 16 - 18.  We've never done anything quite like this.  The expenses and risks are staggering.  The contracts, paperwork, union rules, insurance, travel arrangements, and logistics are mind-boggling.  I've sat through a great on-line "webinar" presented by the show's organizers, talked to other artists who sell through such events, and read everything twice.  Tri-fold brochures and plenty of business cards are packed.  I even have a "sign" ... with my name ... as a form of "branding".  It announces one of my pieces as a finalist in the Niche Awards and the fact that I won this award in 2011.  The "webinar" was so in depth that it reminded artists to select professional attire.  I've got my wardrobe selected too! 

(Above:  Space on our first floor ... cleared and ready for the booth set-up.)

The only thing we could possibly do before picking up the rental cargo van and packing was to conduct a "trial run" of our set up.  After all, the ProPanel booth is brand new.  So ... Sunday was the day.  First, we had to move my sculptural door units, print bins, and several other pieces of furniture out of the way.  This took an hour!

 (Above:  Steve sweeping!)

I don't think we've seen this much free square footage at Mouse House since we moved in over fifteen years ago!  Steve insisted on sweeping.  I have no idea why.  It isn't as if these linoleum squares actually are as "black" and as "white" as they appear in the photo.  Whoever eventually ends up owning this building after us will have no other choice than to replace the flooring!  This is a "work area" ... a very well worn work area!

 (Above:  Steve and the unrolled carpet.)

Finally, we unrolled the carpet.  It was purchased at Bill Mishoe's auction.  Originally, it was bigger than 10' x 10'.  I hand cut it outside ... on the parking lot.  So ... yes ... we basically swept an impossibly damaged and dirty floor in order to roll out a carpet that had last covered a parking lot!  The carpet does show some signs of use ... but nothing that will prove problematic in the under-lit convention center.  The place almost requires vendors to bring their own, professional lighting systems.

Fortunately ... we bought lights!

We also purchased matching "flaps" that velcro onto the bottom of the walls ... hiding the support legs.

(Above:  Our Booth ... set up at Mouse House!)

It took only an hour and a half for us to go from unrolling the carpet to having the entire booth set up.  Now that we know what we are doing, I'm sure we can manage it in less time.  With luck, this is how my work will be presented later in the week ... in Philadelphia ... for gallery owners, interior designers with store front locations, museum gift show buyers, and other high-end wholesale buyers.  Once I've secured my "photo badge", I'll be allowed to snap photos of my booth!  We are excited! 

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the assistance of Max and Shadow who have adopted the booth as their current favorite spot for sleeping!  Anyone in the Columbia area is welcome to visit Mouse House to view this "booth" in the middle of our sales area ... until Wednesday when we pack the rental cargo van!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Made By Hand

(Above:  Made By Hand, 12" x 12" art quilt for the 2013 SAQA Auction.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I'm a PAM (Professional Artist Member) of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates).  I'm very proud of this fact because this is a peer review level in an international organization promoting art quilts ... as ART ... with a capital "A".  Every year there is an on-line auction.  There were 394 pieces in 2012.  They raised $67,450!  Each work is required to be 12" x 12".  This is my third year to donate.

Vintage gloves were stitched to a beautiful linen napkin with a scalloped edge.  The napkin was actually too large.  I splice it vertically and horizontally into quarters ... then stitched it back together to the correct size.  I also cut the gloves ... so that I wasn't hand sewing through so many layers.  Still, it took quite a bit of patience and strength to pull the thread through so much fabric.  Instead of using traditional batting, I used a stiff Peltex.  This made stitching even harder but it was worth it.  With the Peltex, the piece is not flimsy, won't curl under the uneven weight of the gloves, and will hang perfectly as a result.  All the gloves were washed but not bleached or otherwise cleaned.  I like the "used" look and the suggestion of age.  Besides, the red glove is leather.  There was no way for me to clean it, and it definitely showed signs of being well worn.  Thus, the "white ones" just had to stay looking "older" too.

(Above:  Made By Hand, reverse.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I used a vintage printed tablecloth for the reverse and its sleeve.  The center was made by putting a tiny coaster-like doily on top of a crocheted doily with a multi-colored, variegated thread border of pretty pansies.  I machine stitched the title, my name, and the information about SAQA.  The piece is currently "in the mail" for the on-line auction which starts Monday, September 9th at 2:00 PM EST and runs through Sunday, September 29th at 2:00 PM EST.  Check it out HERE ... a place where this piece will soon be shown!

Although I have several blog posts this past week, I've selected this one to be link to Nina-Marie's "Off the Walls Friday" site which shares fiber art works ... completed and in progress.  Visit it HERE!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Stained Glass XXXV, Mathias in Jasper, and my essay PUBLISHED!

(Above:  Stained Glass XXXV, detail of top third with framing.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Steve and I are almost ready to depart Columbia, South Carolina for a trip to the Philadelphia Convention Center, February 16 - 18!  We are doing our first, big show ... the kind that gets national exposure.  It is scary.  My "In Box" and "Faux-Stained Glass" fiber works will be in booth #1615 at the Buyers Market of American Craft.  One of my "Window Series" is also a finalist in the organization's annual Niche Awards.  The winners will be announced at 6 PM on the 16th.  As far as I'm concerned, I'm already "a winner" because  I also received the merit award this year.  This award is given in the form of a booth rent waiver to "deserving first time vendor".  I'm honored ... whether I win the Niche Award or not.  (I actually did win it in 2011!)  Steve and I are planning a "dry run" for our booth set up on Sunday ... here in Mouse House ... just to make sure we know how to set up the booth!  Why Sunday?  Well, we have no customers on that day; no one to hear us bickering and swearing!  The Buyers Market is a WHOLESALE ONLY trade show.  My fingers and toes are crossed that my work might attract a few galleries that might want to represent me!

(Above:  Stained-Glass XXXV.  64 1/2" x 24 1/2" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The last piece I've finished for this exhibition opportunity is Stained-Glass XXXV.  I made a special point of taking this piece in its frame to Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  This is where my studio is located.  It also has a rental gallery under four, big sky lights ... making it an excellent place to take good photographs.  I wanted some better images of how these pieces look so that I can feature them on my "Stained Glass and In Box Series" blog.  Hopefully, wholesale buyers will use this site for reference and ordering my work.

(Above:  Stained Glass XXXV, middle section detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The piece is mounted via hand stitching through an over-sized piece of linen mat board.  The framing includes a black linen liner and a deep picture frame moulding with an ornate gold lip.  Plexi-Glas is fitted between the liner and the frame.  This creates a narrow space in which the work rests without coming into contact with the Plexi-Glas.  (Yes, my "day job" is custom picture framing!)

(Above:  Stained Glass XXXV, bottom third.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I've included my full signature on the lower right side.  It was stitched in free-motion embroidery.  Some times I only "write" my last name and a date.  Some times I use just my initials.  I don't seem to have a consistent way of doing this.  I let the piece dictate what will fit!

(Above:  Steve on our new moped.)

Steve will be driving the rental cargo van to Philadelphia.  Here he is on our new moped.  Why did we get a new one?  Well, two weeks ago Steve got hit by a car.  Thankfully, he rolled off with only minor bumps, bruises and a few scratches.  The driver of the vehicle was leaving the Unemployment Security Commission Office.  She pulled out into the traffic without even looking ... right into Steve.  She hasn't worked in months.  Her insurance had also lapsed.  She was cited for this and her license was suspended.  It was an eye-opening experience ... especially when a wrecker hauled off the remains of the old, totaled moped while a city tow-truck impounded the other vehicle.  

(Above:  Jasper Magazines spread across the counter at the Tapps Art Center during the January 15th issue launch.  Click on the image in order to see how I tried to artistically capture this issue which is mostly devoted to photography but covers all branches of the arts in Columbia.)

Our "family news" isn't all dreadful however!  In fact, some of it is pretty darn wonderful!  The newest issue of Jasper Magazine includes a lovely, two-page spread on our elder son Mathias Dingman, first soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet.  That magazine article and the great full-page photo can be read on-line HERE.

(Above:  The book cover of The Limelight.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Jasper Magazine is produced six times a year and is a division of Muddy Ford Press, a family owned business here in South Carolina ... a family totally devoted to promoting the arts and encouraging cross-pollination between the various art disciplines:  music, drama, dance, literary arts, and visual arts.  To this end, they are about to launch a new publication:  The Limelight: A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, Volume 1.  I am totally elated to have an essay in this new publication.  Writing about my mentor Stephen Chesley was an act of joy.  Having my name listed on the back cover beside Nikki Finney, the 2011 National Book Award for poetry winner, is also pretty darn impressive!

The book will be released on Sunday, February 24, 2013 from 5 - 8 at the Tapps Art Center.  There's a Facebook page listing all the information.  Unfortunately, I won't be in attendance ... but I'll have had a great weekend anyway.  That's when I'll be teaching a two-day workshop at the Society for Contemporary Crafts in Pittsburgh.  

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

Friday, February 01, 2013

New Faux-stained glass windows!

(Above: Window L.  Unframed:  12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  Click on image to enlarge.)

I've been really busy this past week making more faux-stained glass fiber pieces in anticipation of the big wholesale-only Buyers Market show in the Philadelphia Convention Center, February 16 - 18.  Steve and I have our booth ready ... complete with a 10' x 10' carpet and a professional lighting system.  We have piles of business cards and tri-fold brochures, order blanks, and a show booth sign that promotes me as the 2011 Niche Award winner and a finalist this year.  We are now busy framing the eleven new pieces shown in this post and trying not to get nervous about the upcoming show.  I'm also finishing a large faux-stained glass fiber piece ... which I'll post in a day or two!

 (Above: Window LI.   Unframed:  12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  Click on image to enlarge.)

The most common question I get on these pieces is, "How did you make them?"  The answer is pretty easy.  I tell people they are a variation on my "In Box Series" ... which has a free, on-line tutorial HERE.  This technique will be covered during the second day of the "HOT" workshop in Pittsburgh.  I'm teaching at the Society for Contemporary Crafts the weekend after the show in Philadelphia ... and, at this time, there are still openings in the two-day class.  (They've got a great catalog of workshops HERE ... and I'm on page 8)

(Above: Window LII. Unframed:  12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  Click on image to enlarge.)

Another thing that I've been working on are two of my blogs.  First ... I've revamped my "In Box" blog with a new name and totally new posts.  It is now called In Box and Stained Glass Series.  It is HERE.  My idea is to have all the pieces I'm taking to Philadelphia on this blog ... a one stop spot for any interested gallery owners/buyers to visit at a later time ... just in case they're interested after the show!  

(Above: Window LIII. Unframed:  12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  Click on image to enlarge.)

The other blog is totally new.  I've used a new template with a "flipcard" styling to present my recently created "Keys" and "Fragments".  THEY ARE FOR SALE!  I just couldn't bring myself to turn this blog into anything that might resemble "marketing".  It has never been an important function for "Art in Stitches".  This is a place to SHARE my work and thoughts on my creative process ... period.  Yet, selling some things would help, make sense, and can be easily done on the Internet.  So ... my new blog:  ART IN STITCHES SALES ... is HERE.  If anyone reading care to look, comment, make suggestions, etc.  I'd appreciate it!

(Above: Window LXIX. Unframed:  12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  Click on image to enlarge.)

With marketing, sales, and a wholesale trade show on my mind, I also decided to list the prices for my faux-stained glass and "In Box" series pieces on their blog ... but not here.  So ... prices are a click away and the focus here isn't to sell anything, just to share everything!

(Above: Lancet Window XIX.  Unframed 27" x 7".  Framed:  31" x 11".  Click on image to enlarge.)

I also made four new Lancet Windows.  These pieces are great fun to make.  It is a challenge to keep the works within the narrow confines.  It is amazing how many people really do have skinny places in their homes where these will fit nicely.

(Above: Lancet Window XX. Unframed 27" x 7".  Framed:  31" x 11".  Click on image to enlarge.)

Enjoy the ones below!  As for me ... back to work!  I've got a LARGE one waiting for me to tackle with the soldering iron and melt!

(Above: Lancet Window XXI. Unframed 27" x 7".  Framed:  31" x 11".  Click on image to enlarge.)

I am also linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays" site, a place for fiber artists to share both finished work and work-on-progress.  

(Above:  Lancet Window XXII. Unframed 27" x 7".  Framed:  31" x 11".  Click on image to enlarge.)