Archive for the ‘Business of Art’ Category

Okay, this post isn’t quite about art.  But — I admit it — I get almost as much pleasure out of craft. And, truth be told, as much pleasure watching people having fun making things.

That’s how it was in the Upcycling Denim class I taught recently at our local Salvation Army store.

With the carefully arranged shoe and clothing racks as our backdrop, participants cut up and put together old denim jeans that weren’t up to the store standards for re-sale.

I introduced the class with an appreciation for denim. Each person held a pair of jean in their hands as I briefly explained the origins of jeans as work clothes in the late 19th Century in the US. Denim itself — the warp indigo dyed and the weft white — in its distinctive twill weave, goes back to France.

I worked briefly in a Lees jean plant during my 13 years as a sewing machine operator, and remember that it took 13 separate types of sewing machines to make a pair of jeans. I pointed out the flat fell seams on the jean that have them, that make a decent handle for a tote.  And the rivets which you do not want to include in your seams!  A broken needle will be the consequence.

By the second day of the two-day class, the 5 members had learned each others names, and seemed really happy with their projects. An eleven year old fit in as an equal.  A 70 something gentleman decided to make a second belt pouch to balance out the first pouch which he had completed.  And wine totes abounded.  They were based on my own design, but each bore the distinctive personality of its maker.

This class is scheduled for another session. I hope the magic happens again.

 

 

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At some point as my husband and I planned our year, we decided it would be a good idea to participate in 10 art fairs in a row, August, Sept and into October.

I’m not sure what we were thinking!

Maybe I thought some little elves would create more of my inventory in the few days between unpacking the car and packing it again to head off to another art fair.

I’m new really working flat out hard to try to keep up.

But, that being said, there is a lot of good that has come from this intensive experience.

We’ve both made an effort to ask advice from other artists we trust on how to show our art to its best advantage.

My sales have been much better this year than last.  I attribute that primarily to having started to frame my art quilts. It not only shows off each piece to its best advantage, but lends a more unified look to the booth. Plus I’m making a number of small art quilts: 5 x 7, framed to 7 x 9.  They sell well in an art fair setting.

Customers are now clear about how to hang the art quilts. I was always trying to explain about the “hanging sleeve,” the “slat,” etc. and it was going over heads.

My husband, Jay Ressler, is making my frames.  They are hand crafted from either re-purposed barn wood or hardwoods, stained and oil rubbed. I then cover a piece of foam core with black linen fabric, and sew the finished quilt to that.  Then I complete the frame with a backing and wire.  No glass of course!

I’m also beginning to weigh whether I want to continue making my craft items: Friendship Wine Totes and “Hot Spots,” that is, hot pads. Both carry through a constant in my work: using re-purposed fabrics and objects. For now, I plan to keep making them.

Compare the show on the left, this year’s booth shot, with last years’ booth shot of the same event.  They are similar, but the framing, on the left, unifies the work.

 

 

 

I am pleased to announce that I am now part of a small new group of art quilters. I was invited by the organizer, Karol Kasmaul of Florida.  We are from the United States, Canada, England, Australia, Norway, Japan and Korea — 11 fiber artists in all. We have committed to challenge ourselves over an extended period of time, using the overall theme of “Unusual Inspirations.” Following the inspiration of a new prompt every two months, we will create a small, medium or large art quilt, and post the results.

Here is our website — you can subscribe to follow our progress. https://www.clothincommon.com/

The first prompt, provided by Karol, is “What did you say?”

She concludes: “Your work could show loud, amplified sound like construction or thunder.  Or soft and faint sound, like a whisper.  How will you represent sound visually?”

The first thing that came to mind is that although I live peacefully in the countryside, my ears are assaulted day and night by the sound of my mother-in-law’s TV. She is a sweet soul who lives with us, and the TV keeps her company, though she pays scant attention to it. Instead her world consists of crossword puzzles and books. From the morning talk shows and Rachael Ray to The View and The Chew, through the afternoon to the evening news: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Chris Matthews, and everything in between, along with the prescription medication advertisements, automobile, Progressive Insurance, and “My Pillow” ads — my peace is punctured by TV sound waves. I see them as bright, sharp colors crowding the serenity of my space.

Here are some details from Elizabeth’s World.  it is not quilted yet — still a work in progress. Your comments and suggestions are welcome!

 

 

The Studio Art Quilt Associates annual silent auction is an opportunity for collectors to find new artists, and add to their collection of established art quilters.  All the work is in, and we are counting down until the Sept 15 bidding begins.

http://www.saqa.com/auction-quiltviewALL.php

To find my quilt, for example, enter “Ressler” in the search bar. This year, 370 SAQA members donated 12 x 12″ art quilts to the auction. Last year the auction raised nearly 80K to aid SAQA’s exhibition and outreach programs.

The dates are September 15 through October 8, 2017.

Here is my piece: Perilous.

Perilous smaller

 

I would like to take a moment to celebrate the conclusion of my most recent class: Raw Edge Applique at The Arts Barn in Schuylkill Haven, PA. First of all, owner Deb Cooper and Education Director Joanne Cosentino were so gracious and accommodating from beginning to end, even providing snacks for the students during class. I am very grateful to them.

There were 4 students.  Even that small number kept me busy every moment. They were good humored, smart, and cooperative. I loved to see when they “got it!” Some examples of comments, this from an experienced traditional quilter, “This is so much more freeing than making all the little squares!”  “Wow, what a difference it makes when you’ve quilted the piece”

I provided little thumbnail sketches they could use for composition ideas.  Two used them, one made her own composition, and one took hers from my Quilt National 2015 Catalog. She said she kept coming back to “Infinity” by Elena Stokes, and ended up nearly copying that. (on a much smaller scale, with different fabrics.) I hope Elena takes that as a compliment!

The one composition “rule” I impart to beginning students is to avoid the center of a piece. You are trying to keep the eye moving. Use the “rule of thirds,” or at least don’t put an eye catcher in the center!

I brought in two sewing machines, one set up with a walking foot for straight line quilting, and one for free motion.  I didn’t want them to get hung up on fancy quilting techniques for an introductory class.  We only had two 3-hour sessions. Near the end I changed the free motion machine to straight stitch so they could finish the bindings.

They worked in small sizes.  I cut muslin for the substrates approximately 12 x 16″ with batting to match. I had two ironing stations set up, which also worked well. I teach using Mistyfuse, and each student got about 2 yards of it to work with.

I began the class by showing pictures of Art Quilts, and also explaining the relationship between traditional quilts and art quilts, and where raw edge applique fits into the later category. I brought in some of my own pieces, and gave brief demonstrations at various points: how to start, squaring and trimming, quilting, and binding.  I had instructions available for both “facing to the back” and quarter inch binding.  Everyone chose to use the “facing to the back” method.

I also gave color suggestions, using a color wheel.  You can’t go wrong with complimentary colors!

My own take-away is that two 3-hour classes is the very least time needed to start to learn this method. More time would have been better.  But everyone almost finished their work, or is prepared to finish it at home.

 

 

 

How does every other artist cope with this time of year — Tax day is looming.  For my husband and myself, who together form “ResslerArt,” it is nerve-wracking.

Our income has pretty straightforward categories: Consignment sales (galleries who themselves take care of sales tax, and we only report the income) Studio and art fair sales (we report and pay sales tax and income tax), teaching, awards, and reimbursements (which are not taxable.)

Somehow it seemed like a good idea to me, at a certain point during 2016, to stop keeping the detailed ledger of expenses I had been keeping.

Bad idea.

We ended up having to re-create it, painstakingly, receipt by receipt for the year.

The expense ledger columns heads are from IRS categories: “Materials,” “Supplies” (yes they are different.  You use “supplies” on “materials.” Supplies get used up faster. For us the number one item is ink for our printers.)  “Office Expenses” and “Office Supplies” (again — they are different.  Office Expenses are like computers and printers.  Supplies are like paper clips.)

There are many categories that we never fill up — wage labor for example. But I have columns for them anyway.  You never know!

I set up a temporary table near Jay’s computer, with my laptop, big notebooks of paper records, and my laptop with ledgers.  Luckily we have always worked well together, so as frustrating as the process is, we never once struck or harmed the other person.

Swearing at the language of the tax forms is another matter. (Thank goodness for Google.  I was constantly looking up the difference between one thing and another). But I fear our verbal abuses fell on deaf ears.

Anyway, we came out about even on our business income and expenses, and overall get a refund this year.

Now I’m happy!

taxes

I’m looking forward to April 22-23 for the first ever Art Plus Gallery home studio tour.  Jay and I will open up our studio on those days to visitors.  We are planning demonstrations, refreshments, door prizes, and are hoping the garden is in bloom.

Studio Tour in Wyomissing Neighbors

Tickets can be purchased at the Gallery, 604 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA 19611, on line, or at any of the studios on the tour. The address of ours is 15 Rocktown Road, Hamburg, PA, 19526. The tour is from 10 AM to 4 PM both days.

The attached article is from Wyomissing Neighbors.

If you are anywhere close, come on by!

We’d love to see you.