Monday, April 26, 2010

Showing Your Work: part 5 packing it up

I've worked for a number of shows, curating, hanging, organizing - climbing right up on that ladder and hanging the things on the wall. I've hung shows in public art galleries,  cafes, local and national quilt shows. I've worked with local guild shows, the International Quilt Festival (in chicago), and group shows that traveled around the country.

The part I like the least is the packing and unpacking of the quilts. I'm grateful that there have always been others to make the checklists and make sure that everyone has sent all the stuff. Let me talk just a bit about ways that you can make things easier for the show organizers and for yourself. 

You know how to roll your quilt right? Swim noodles are a textile artists best friend. Lay down a sheet or cloth, lay the quilt face down, then roll the whole thing onto the noodle, tie it up and throw on a plastic sleeve. Or -use the grey pipe insulating tubes from the hardware store - they are a bit thinner than a noodle and might let you wrap more quilt into your box. I have to say that I prefer square long boxes to tubes for ease of handling. We can stack them on top of each other or against the wall without their rolling away.

If your quilt is too long for the box, lengthen the box.

I have heard of instances of pieces being accidentally thrown away, mistaken for garbage. If you have no other choice a garbage bag will protect your work from moisture. Just label it in great big letters. It's much better that the bag be clear.

Please don't use packing peanuts. They come out of the boxes all over the place and are a major mess to clean up. Bubble wrap is better if you need to fill some space in the box. 

(I've blurred out all names and addresses by the way - these are all well labeled!)

Here is one of the best packaged pieces I've seen. Multiple pieces were packaged in one box. Each was placed in a clear plastic bag. One quilts was wrapped on a swim noodle, wrapped in cloth. A smaller piece was creatively sandwiched between two pieces of foam core. Every last piece was labeled with the artists name, address, contact information, and the name of the quilt. Noodle, cloth, bag, box, hanging apparatus - every piece labeled!!! And (I thought this was clever) they all had a visual so that you could take a glance and know that they all belong together.

This was wonderful. A smaller piece that needed to be shipped flat was pinned to a thick piece of foam board then protected with another piece of foam board. They were held together by stick on velcro straps. It was simple for us to undo the velcro unpin the artwork and keep everything in it's box so we could find it later. 

Some other tips - include a self addressed stamped postcard for the show to send so you know your work got there safely.

Any other tips for packing quilts? 

Here are some of the nightmares:
  • A quilt pinned to insulation board that we couldn't fit back into the box. Pinned every inch. (That said it was my favorite quilt in the exhibition.)
  • Peanuts, peanuts, peanuts. A very large box for a small piece... peanuts, peanuts, peanuts.
  • No labels anywhere. No hanging stuff. I could go on. I'm sure you could go on.

Tell me what you think. If you've been involved in the packing and unpacking process what was your best and worst? How do you pack your pieces? Did I leave anything out? Let me know.