Sunday, February 18, 2007

Setting up for the Open House - Hanging the Quilts

Let me say upfront: Textiles are a royal pain. This realization came as I gathered the quilts I'd chosen to display and started hanging them. I had 18 altogether, 3 of which were already hung. The smaller ones posed fewer problems, but most of them had been folded at least once when stored. They would need a little steaming and blocking. And then there were the strings and lint that always find their way onto the work. Then I needed to figure out a way to hang most of them such that I wouldn't be faced with spackling and painting when the majority of them came down. I couldn't help but think how much easier this all would be if I were hanging paintings.

The way I normally hang my quilts, depending on size, is by either resting the ends of the hanging dowel on push pins inserted in the wall, or for the larger ones, inserting eyelets in the ends of a slat and slipping those over conventional picture hooks. For my temporary installation, I ended up using two methods. Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me about those 3M plastic hooks that are applied by removable adhesive strips. Supposedly, these won't rip off paint and wall board when I'm ready to remove the hooks from the wall. The only problem was that there wasn't enough gap in the hook for my dowels to slip into..

I envisioned that I could attach picture wire to either end of a dowel and hang each quilt from a single hook, just like a painting. Dream on. I sew my sleeves within 1/2" of the top of the quilt. No matter how tightly I stretched the wire, it pulled above the quilt top, leaving both wire and hook clearly visible. Not the look I wanted. Then it occurred to me, what if I insert a safety pin in the sleeve at the center? Would it slip over the hook and the quilt edges stay flat, particularly if I left the dowel resting in the sleeve?

Yes indeed, on the smaller quilts this worked great. A bit of the hook still showed at the top, but since they were clear, it wasn't readily visible from a distance. I might add, I tried both regular safety pins and the bent quilting pins. The bent ones actually worked better.

These hooks were rated to 1/2 a pound, so I wasn't comfortable using a single one for the larger quilts. But if I spaced two horizontally the width of my dowel, could I use the picture wire to make loops on the end of the dowel and slip those over the hook? This was a bit trickier, and next time I'll do it a bit differently, but the general idea worked.

Here are two quilts hung in this fashion. While I might decide to use the space above the trunk to display art, I certainly wouldn't choose to permanently hang a quilt as I have on the adjacent wall. Thus the need for a hanging system that wouldn't leave tracks.

The two smaller quilts in the picture below were hung by the single hook/safety pin method. They flank a space where I had hung a large framed print. I stored the print away and intended to use the hook to hang this similarly-sized quilt with the wire strung on the dowel. When that failed, I had a silly notion. You don't suppose that the dowel would rest on top of the picture hook and balance in place? To my surprise, it did. But would it be prone to falling off at the slightest breeze. Nope. I'd stumbled upon a great solution for areas where I didn't mind putting up a hook.

In addition to the quilts hung on the wall, I interspersed some of my favorite journal quilts and one 12 x 12 quilt as you can see in these last two pictures. Click on any picture for a larger view. These have no hanging sleeves and I wasn't about to add any to them. Instead, I thought I could use easels and this worked very well. In fact, I plan to leave some of them sitting out in my living room because they look so good that way. They weren't quite stiff enough though, so I had some mat board cut slightly smaller than the quilts and slipped one behind each journal quilt.

I found these relatively cheap (under $2) plastic easels at Ben Franklin. They came in clear and black and I bought some of each, plus two more expensive wood ones to augment several I already had on hand.

After everything was in place, I added signage. The simple way to go was to print just the title and year of each piece (excepting the journal quilts) on a 3-1/2 x 5 index card. More information was available on the separate price list placed on the table with my business cards, guest book and artist information. In cases where I had exhibit postcards or specific artist statements, such as for "Camelot" and my Changing Perspective piece, I put those on the wall as well. These were held in place with a little putty designed for the purpose.

I spent time over two days getting all this up, making sure I was done a good 24 hours before the guests arrived in case there was a problem with falling quilts or signage. Remember, this was my first go at this and much of my method was trial and error.

More to come...


Anonymous said...

I use the 3M tabs all the time for my small wall hangings. For some of my smaller quilts, I use a ruler that is thin enough to fit into the tab part as well as thin wooden moldings (these were leftovers from various home projects). For my larger wall quilts, I use carpet metal strips or door threshold strips and just tape (using masking tape) a couple together to get the exact width. These work for me all the time. I bought different sizes and then just need to pick and choose and tape for any width.
Rose Marie

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks for the additional information. I've not heard of using the metal strips before, especially taping them together! Will have to give your methods a try.