I’m not talking about the old rope and noose kind of “hanging mechanism” here, but rather how to best display my artwork. For several years my work has been framed. I like it; it looks neat, clean, professional. However, as my work changes, framing no longer meets all my needs and requirements. So I have been trying out various alternatives, with more or less success. Usually less.
How much of our time as artists goes into tasks other than actually making art? In my case — and I know I’m not alone — lots and lots. There always seems to be something that needs to be done other than the creative part, whether it’s attending to business, cleaning up my workspace enough to actually do something in there, or convincing myself that what I’m doing is a valuable use of my time.
As my work moves into the world of art quilting I want to be able to apply to quilt exhibits. A quilt is expected to be hung with a sleeve and dowel — not a frame. Sure makes it easier to ship! That’s a real advantage. Most quilts I’ve seen use the old sleeve and dowel method. Ooops–I just said that. Well, anyway, that’s the first thing I tried. Here’s an example:
Hmmnnn…How come quilts hang nice and flat, even at the top, when hung this way? I don’t like the roll around the dowel that I am seeing. I also don’t like the way the fabric above the dowel and sleeve turns out. Finally the fact that the hanging wire shows is totally unacceptable. Maybe if I used a flat slat of wood instead of a dowel?
On Friday I mentioned to a friend “felting is the easy part. It’s the display part that’s so challenging.”
This second attempt solves the roll over the dowel, but the hanging wire is still very present and I don’t seem strong enough to pull that wire so tight that it doesn’t show. Perhaps I’m mounting the sleeve and slat too high towards the top of the piece. But if I lowered it wouldn’t that top rolling out of the fabric – which is still present in my second try — just be worse?
My felting friend, Robyn, suggested rather than attaching hanging wires to the end of the piece why not cut holes in the sleeve, drill holes in the wooden slat and skewer it onto nails in the wall. Humph…now that had possibilities. So I tried it. I just put the holes and nails in the ends of the slat which I extended beyond the piece. I wanted to get an idea if it would work before I modified both sleeve and slat.
Better…..but still not right. There continues to be something odd going on by the lower edge of the sleeve. A kind of lumpy, bumpy thing.
Friends of mine, the Finnish felt makers Karoliina and Rod, use an interesting technique for hanging her felts. It’s a metal slat that’s sewn directly onto the back of her felt. Then a piece of wire is bent to slip onto the slat and go over a hook. I did some looking around locally and the only metal I found was pretty heavy. Too heavy, in my mind, to be carried by my lightweight fabric pieces. It also rusted or tarnished. No good. I didn’t want red or black gunk on the back of my pieces. How about if I used wooden slats and sewed them right onto the back of my work? Get rid of the intermediate step of a sleeve. Less work (no sleeve to sew on) and maybe it would resolve some problems. Oh, and I liked the idea of bending a wire hook to fit onto the slat and be used for hanging. Actually I liked the idea of bending wire in general. Perhaps I should take some kind of wire working class? But that’s meat for the ol’ mill and another post. I believe over time wood can degrade fabric, but right now I’m most interested in finding something that works. I imagine I can finish the wood with something that will not make chemical changes to my fabric. Have to ask my friend George, the woodworker, about that. Or a textile curator (next time I bump into one).
So here’s the side view. Wow! much better. And from the front:
Yes it works! I like it. Now, I wonder how it will do when used on larger, heavier rugs? Guess I need to try it and see.
Do you recognize this piece? I wrote about a smaller version of it over a year ago. Watch for my next blog which will contain some more info. about “Insights: Rudra” and the process of making it.