Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Small Works

silvery pond 72

Silvery Pond

Having two art shows/sales coming up it’s been fun to switch from oh so serious (and secretive! Glad to get out from under the wraps! ) work for QN to some much more light hearted or experimental pieces. Since generally only small pieces sell, it’s a good opportunity to try a lot of different things without investing too much time in any one idea.

goldfish 72


I also wanted to try stretching work - I have liked the look of stretched textiles for a long time ever since I saw Joy Saville’s amazing work many years ago. She has a most elaborate stretching system that can be totally taken to bits and folded up for shipping – it’s truly wonderful, but I’m sure expensive and complicated. Even the explanation of how it worked had me confabulated! So, I’ve just been buying standard artist stretcher bars – they used to be obtainable everywhere but now I find I’m having to get them online. Don’t know what this tells us about contemporary painters! Maybe they are buying pre stretched, primed canvases rather than producing their own. Which of course limits you to the sizes the manufacturers choose to produce and is the first problem I ran into. I’ve always hated those competitions where you had to produce a quilt of certain dimensions and now I know why!! I find it next to impossible to do this.     on the wire 72

                                                             On The Line

But there are other problems to solve when stretching pieces too. If you use a thick batt, it makes it far too thick for folding over on the corners. Using no batt at all reduces the texture and the substance of the piece dramatically – 3 layers is better than two! And two is better than one! So I’ve experimented with different kinds of batting: thin cotton, wool, split wool and flannel. Also I’ve explored reduced the size of the batt so that it just reaches the first “turn” (as it were) on the frame. I’ve tried hand stitching through the layers and machine stitching. I also tried with and without borders, piecing versus appliqué, and adding on extra elements once the piece is stretched.

spuggies 72


The benefit of small pieces is that you can take the time to experiment in all these different ways and find out what is right for you. The variety of things you can do is vast, but it’s possible to try out many of them and immediately and easily hang the pieces on the wall to see what works best as a finished piece. The other benefit is that nearly everyone I know cannot afford a full sized art quilt. We all know the hours that go into making them, consequently even if you limit yourself to minimum wage you’re up into several hundreds before you’ve barely started piecing, let alone quilting! And yet ordinary folks are more likely to want to buy textile art than major monied art collectors…and, of course, there are a lot more of them!

citylife 72



So here are a few of the pieces I’ve been working on, not sure how to price them yet but will do my best to make them reasonable.

                                                                                                         City Life


And two unstretched small arashi pieces:

arashi squares 72

arashi city 72

Arashi Squares

                                                                 Arashi city

And now to sit back and cogitate a little!  
If you have been, thanks for reading! 
All comments most welcome!


Jackie said...

I've been interested in small pieces too, for the same reasons-more likely to sell but also experimentation on a small scale. I've not stretched mine but attached them onto a pre-stretched canvas. I stitched my quilt on after having painted the wooden edges of the canvas, looked pretty good, and people know how to hang something wooden. Good luck, it's a fun venture!

Nina Marie said...

Funny that you showed stretched pieces since recently I came across a local fiber artist - Jude Ongley who works in stitched canvas and stretches then on bars - then paints the sides of the bars black. Its a super slick finish and a nice alternative to putting textiles under glass (yuk!) - but to tell you the truth - love the Arashi pair the best! There is a lot to be said in smaller pieces for smaller budgets!

Elizabeth Barton said...

People do seem to like the one nail rather than two approach!! I'm intrigued by the artist Nina mentions - does she paint the fabric black that is stretched over the bars?

Elsie Montgomery said...

Your experiences in this are timely for me. I'd like to hear more. I have an art piece that will be quilted and then put on a frame, but I've been procrastinating because I'm not sure how to proceed. I'm also thinking of putting the piece, after it is on the frame, into another frame so it looks like it is floating. Have you tried that? So much to learn...

Elizabeth Barton said...

Sounds really neat LC, I've seen it done with paintings - it's just a lot more expensive...

Anonymous said...

Out of frustration of the intense time commitment in creating even a $200 quilt, I've taken to stretching some on small frames as well. I use lo-loft poly batting, for the most part, and it folds up pretty well in the corners. What did you decide worked best? I like many of these, but my hands-down favorite is the birds on the line... I would think that would sell well as a giclee print too (that's another way to capitalize on the labor that goes into quiltmaking).

Linda B. said...

You have obviously struck a chord with a lot of us. I'm exhibiting in a (potentially) selling environment for the first time next year and have been pondering the size/selling/hanging as much as the content of the pieces I'll be entering! How small is small for you?
I too like your arashi pieces best, but I think that has more to do with familiarity and not needing to look quite so hard. I've been told that figurative work sells best, so it will be interesting to see how your buyers vote!

Elizabeth Barton said...

I'll report back on sales - if there are any!!! the arashi ones are Very Small indeed and would probably be better in a frame - but that would make them too expensive. It's tough!