Monday, February 19, 2007

Setting up for the Open House - Grouping Work

Almost as tricky as deciding how to physically hang the quilts was choosing what to include, then deciding where best to hang them. Rather than pull the actual quilts out, I went through my documentation notebooks, which are organized chronologically. The majority of the quilts chosen were made in the last 3 years, but some older favorites that definitely fly in the face of strictly traditional design made the cut. Anything strictly traditional was excluded. When I counted them up, there were 18, and I thought, whew! That's a lot of quilts. They would have to fit in the living/dining room, one bedroom and the studio. Ironically, once I started hanging them, I went from "that's a lot of quilts" to "I could really stand to have more quilts to hang!" I also selected 7 of my favorite journal quilts to intersperse here and there.

The quilts fell into three categories: Birch-related designs, autumn leaf-related designs, and non-representational designs. "Camelot" and "Night & Noon on the Planet Hoffman" were the oddballs. There also seemed to be three basic color palettes - the browns, golds and greens of autumn, black or red & black, and a couple that were clear blues & pinks. It seemed logical to group the birch quilts in one area, the leaf quilts in another and fill in empty spaces with the rest. The blue/pink ones that truly clashed with everything else were relegated to the studio.

Next I thought about sight lines. The front door where people would enter is at the living room end of my main room. In this picture, it is to the left. I knew that as people entered, their eyes would see either the space above the trunk, or the opposite end of the room first. Anything hung on the wall where they entered would not be immediately noticed, although if they missed it on the way in, they would definitely catch it on the way out. The red & black quilt that I hung over the trunk has always been an eye-catcher and crowd pleaser so I decided to give it the prominent place, even though it is an older piece. "Night and Noon" made the entry wall because I could hang it at eye level where the intricate detail, including beading, could be studied. Plus it didn't fit with any of the other quilts except in color so it was a good candidate to be visually separated from everything else. I could also display the inspiration for it right next to it. The journal quilt right below it has a lot of beading, the one to the left a similar color palette, and since I tend to match instead of mix, that is why these ended up together. A small black piece completes that area, mirroring the black of the quilt over the trunk.

As people shed coats and oriented themselves, their eyes naturally settled on the grouping at the dining room end of the space. So this is where I hung the birches, which I feel best represents my current leanings. In retrospect, I'm not sure it was such a good idea to have them all together, along with the three birch journal quilts on the table below. (The table also held my guest book, business cards, price list and artist information.) Overkill or instructive in showing how I've been developing this theme? I think some people liked the fact that they could easily look from one to the other and see similarities and variations. What do you think? Next time should I split them up more? "Camelot," by the way, was hung to the right centered over the end table by the couch. It was an excellent place for it - no other quilts on either side to compete or clash with it and the light played well on it.

The bedroom space was a bit easier to work with, and there was a greater mix of quilts which I found more interesting. I was a bit torn as to which to hang on the wall directly across from the doorway - the first thing people would see. "Something Bold" won out over a larger piece that was easier to hang on a rod suspended in front of closet doors. Once it was up, I could see it was the best place, because it too is a bit of an oddball when viewed with the majority of my work.

Willow Leaves was already hanging in there over my rocker. I decided to leave it there and drape the rocker with two of the willow leaf stamped fabrics that will be incorporated into quilts for this series. California Christmas...Wisconsin Spring hung on the other side of the window on the same wall.

Two more quilts hung on the wall by the door, easily studied coming in or out. And that latest birch quilt in the hallway couldn't be missed on the way out.

From the bedroom, it's a short walk down the hall to the studio. I definitely should have hung more quilts in here. I've been saving the blank wall to the right of the window for another design space, but up until a few days before the open house, I hadn't yet found the piece of batting that was to hang there. By the time I did, I didn't have time to figure out what to put up on it so I left the wall bare. I really wish I hadn't, since it is the first place one's eye goes when entering the room.

My two little grid quilts looked a bit pitiful on the adjacent wall. I think I'd originally planned to hang Night & Noon there with them, or have Grid 3 done to help fill the space. The journal quilt on the table below is the one I did to test glues and couching techniques before making Grid 1 so it was logical to display it near that quilt. Also on the table is a batting sample, odds and ends for the next birch quilt, some of my hand-dyed fabric, and pictures and pattern for the angel quilt I'll be making for the church. I also set out some fabric that may go in to.

On the opposite side of the studio are my machines, and I left out Grid 3 in it's partially quilted state along with the threads I'm using in it. My regular design wall had the usual bits and pieces of fabric waiting for inspiration to strike or pieces in progress. This was the part about having a studio tour as opposed to just an exhibit that I really liked. This is where I could show how I work and what goes into the finished product. People asked lots more questions in here than they did when looking at the quilts in the other rooms.

After having gone through this process, I have a better idea of how much new work I need to have ready if I decide to make this an annual event. It also clarified the direction my work has taken in a way that just flipping through my chronological files or viewing a few quilts now and then has not. Have I let myself get into a rut? Am I taking enough risks, pushing myself enough? Am I keeping the series work interesting? These are all questions I hadn't really considered until I gathered up these pieces and viewed them as a whole. An excellent exercise I'd highly recommend.

No comments: