Thursday, February 12, 2015

Framed brooches and last push toward ACC Baltimore

(Above:  Detail of Lancet Window LI.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This week has been crazy!  Why? Well, there's so much to do before Monday morning when Steve and I load the rental cargo van and head north to the ACC (American Craft Council) Baltimore wholesale (Feb. 18 - 19) and retail show (Feb. 20 - 22.)  There's plenty of custom picture framing to finish and clients to call but there's also the "last minute push" to finish new work for the booth ... including Lancet Window LI and another, large In Box piece pictured below.  Right now, there are three, small In Box pieces in the garage waiting for the final, melting touches and to be framed.  These three will be the last pieces done until returning from Baltimore.  I'm not sure if I'll get them photographed and blogged but I will get them into the van!  

(Above:  Lancet Window LI, Inventory # 3359. Framed: 31 1/4" x 11 1/4". $375 plus tax and shipping.)

Tonight is the reception for Crafting Civil (War) Conversations at the McKissick Museum.  I have a piece, Stitching Together, in this juried show.  Tomorrow evening I'll be helping with a Mardi Gras float sponsored by the Jasper Magazine krewe.  My friend, the super talented poet Ed Madden, and I have been named the krewe's "Monarchs"! We will be riding in a convertible during Saturday's parade!  I'm excited! The rest of the weekend will be spent in "hunter-gatherer mode", trying to assemble everything needed for the ACC show into one place near the door!  That's the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth, all the lighting equipment, the boxed artwork, packaging blankets, receipts book, business cards, order forms, bubble wrap, the "jig-saw" foam booth floor, signage, etc. It's a lot of work but very exciting.

(Above: In Box CLXXIII, Inventory # 3360. Framed:  33 1/2" x 21 1/2. $525 plus tax and shipping.)

Preparing for a show also includes a lot of nervousness.  The outlay of money for booth rent, electricity, the cargo van, gas, hotel stay, and food add up to an incredible amount.  "Breaking even" doesn't always happen for every artist, no matter how talented.  Honestly, every artist in this show is already among the best in the country ... and there are over 600 of us.  The energy during set-up is fueled both by happy anticipation and financial worry.  It is an awesome mix of emotions and very different from doing anything in my hometown.  I'm proud to be going, thrilled for the chance to be among such peers, and praying for sales!

(Above: Brooches VII and VIII.  Framed:  9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

Since I haven't been "on the high-end craft circuit" for very long ... basically within two years, I haven't really had to consider changing my work too much.  Some of the other artists have been doing ACC shows for two decades or more.  Over time, their inventory has changed, been updated, and created to appeal to both new and repeat buyers.  Yet last year, I did hear plenty of people ask me if I had anything "smaller" than my small, "In Box Series" pieces.  I heard people comment that they'd like something "under $200" and something that could easily be shipped back home or as a gift. (Yes, people really do fly to Baltimore for an inspired weekend looking at and buying fine craft!) These comments prompted me to create the "On Gold Series".

(Above: Brooches XI and XII. Framed:  9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

Another thing I noticed during last year's ACC Baltimore show was how most women are totally attracted to any type of jewelry, especially rather large brooches.  Yes, I realize that this is obvious to most people ... but it was news to me! LOL!  (I'm atypical in many respects.  I don't cook, clean, shop, keep up with fashions and accessories, and generally skip looking at jewelry when browsing artists' booths.  I don't generally wear pins or brooches ... and if I were to do so, I'd select something very small.)

Jewelry, however, is a separate, juried category for an ACC show.  My work falls under "Decorative Fibers".  This fact made me dismiss the idea of creating a brooch, but then I had a hair-brained idea that solved the dilemma.  I could make a small decorative fiber piece which could, upon occasion, be removed from its frame and worn!  I made eighteen "samples" last March while teaching for Mary McBride's Focus on Fibers retreat in Florida.  I blogged about them HERE.      

(Above: My set up for photographing the collection of framed brooches.)

During the last two weeks, I worked on the "samples" ... turning them into framed decorative artworks ... finishing the backs ... and playing with velcro.  I'm happy with the results and used the top of my dry-mount press to photograph them.

(Above: Brooches XIII and XIV. Framed:  9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

There are two sizes of frames ... 9 1/2" x 8 1/2" ... to better suit the more vertically oriented pieces or the more squared ones.

(Above: Frame with velcro patch, brooch, and the velcro "hanging device".)

So ... how do these brooches work as decorative fibers?  Well, the frames include another Crescent Couture mat board (not quite as expensive as the gold leafed mats used for the "On Gold" series but certainly not as affordable as even a 100% rag paper mat!).  This silver metallic threaded surface is lovely and has great contrast with the ornate gold-lipped frame.  I applied a patch of blue velcro to the center.  This blue velcro has a really, really strong sticky back.  I bought a yard 2" wide, non-adhesive backed, black velcro and cut it into pieces.  The brooch, when framed, is pinned to this black velcro ... which is easily attached to the blue patch. 

(Above:  The reverse of a brooch ... about to be pinned to the black velcro.)

The velcro hanging system worked perfectly ... except for one problem.  The brooch didn't hang vertically.  It tilted downward because the stitched pin jutted too far out from the top of the brooch. To counter-balance the pin, I used velcro glue to attach a small piece of black, foam-centered board to the velcro.  Using a gold metallic pin, I wrote "This side toward the brooch".  I also used an awl to poke obvious holes in the black velcro.  Perhaps this example isn't totally clear, but I think it will be obvious to anyone actually handling the brooch.  It is easy to take off the frame.  It is easy to wear.  It is easy to reattach the brooch to the black velcro and get it back on the frame again!

(Above: Brooches V and VI. Framed:  8 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

The funny thing about these brooches is the fact that I'd forgotten just how many I'd made last spring.  I had Steve build sixteen frames because that's how many I counted when determining how many 8 1/2" square frames and how many 9 1/2" x 8 1/2" frames I needed.  

(Above Brooches IX and X. Framed:  9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

When I photographed them, I was one brooch short.  I thought I miscounted and had an extra frame.

(Above: Brooches III and IV. Framed:  8 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

Steve insisted there were sixteen brooches for the sixteen frames.  I, too, thought there were originally sixteen.

(Above: Brooches I and II. Framed:  8 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

With everything else going on this week, I didn't want to wait to photograph the brooches.  If I waited, they might never get photographed, entered into my inventory book, and shared on the blog.  Fifteen was just going to have to be good enough.

(Above: Brooch XV. Framed:  8 1/2" x 8 1/2". $150 each.)

Thus, this was the last one ... number fifteen ... until last night!

(Above: Brooches XVI and XVII.)

In my sewing basket I found TWO MORE brooches ... obviously now XVI and XVII.  One will get a frame.  I figured I'd just wear the extra brooch at the ACC Show.  Yet, I'm actually now two frames short and one brooch short.  Why?  Well, until writing this blog post, I'd forgotten that I made eighteen "samples".  Where the other brooch is ... anyone's guess!   

(Above:  A Gee's Bend art quilt in the process of being stitched to a uniquely spliced 100% cotton rag mat.)

Will I find the "lost" brooch in time to be photographed before the show?  Probably not!  If I find it, I'll share the photo when I share the images of the last three, small "In Box" pieces that are in the garage.  In the meantime, I need the top of my dry mount for other things ... like framing this Gee's Bend art quilt!  Two of the Gee Bend's quilters were artists-in-residence for a week in 2010 at a local elementary school.  The staff purchased this quilt ... and brought it to me for framing!  I am particularly pleased that I could splice the mat to allow the blue field to sit upon a red mat!  Totally cool!

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


Sherrie Spangler said...

What a clever idea for displaying the brooches! Good luck at the show.

Wanda said...

Very exciting! I am excited and nervous right there with you!!! It's all going to be great though!

Margaret said...

As ever you inspire! Those brooch
pastiches are exquisite! Have a great time at both ACC shows!

Norma Schlager said...

Your framed brooches are wonderful! What a great idea. Good luck at the show. I hope you sell out.

Teresa Duryea Wong said...

As always, you are one busy woman. I am hoping good thoughts for you with this show. I am sure there is a lot of work and worry. I love the framed brooches idea - very creative. Have a great trip and enjoy the company you will be among!

Maggi said...

What a great idea for the brooches. Good luck with the show.

Yael said...

I don't comment often, but I read all your post and I enjoy each one of them! You are an amazing artist Susan, that's for sure!
Einfach bewundernswert! :-)

Els said...

Oh Susan what a lovely bunch, those brooches !!!
Very clever ! I hope you sell them all !
(a friend artist also made me a brooch which was framed ;-) I can wear it or hang it on the wall !)