Studio goings-on

After being almost exclusively in making-mode for the past few years, I now wake up every morning with a different agenda. Besides paying attention to my husband Rob and having lunch with friends, I’m photographing my work, organizing exhibitions, and preparing lectures. Making art is one thing, but if you want to share it with the world, you have to figure out ways get it out there. It’s a different creative exercise that not all artists can or want to take on. Although I would rather be stitching right now, I know that doing the promotional part is worth it down the road.

Before showing what’s happening in my studio, I’d first like to invite those of you in the Boston area to an Artist Talk I’ll be giving in Watertown, MA. It’ll be at the Quilters’ Connection, on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM at St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA. $10.00 guest fee for non Quilters’ Connection members.

I will share the joys and challenges of making art that ranges from precious to poignant to provocative, as well as explain where this doll-infested needle and thread universe comes from. I’ll also bring along some original pieces, including Birds of Beebe Woods (pictured left) and books to sell. I look forward to meeting you!

Over the past few weeks, Rob and I have been photographing a lot of older artwork. My pieces are displayed in cherry wood shadow-box frames that Rob makes. Glass protects the bas-relief embroidery from dust, bugs and curious fingers.

The process includes removing each piece from its frame, taking its picture and then putting it back in the frame. So, why didn’t we take photos before framing them behind glass? It’s a long story involving deadlines, a broken wrist, and consequently being behind schedule. So, here we are, doing the job years later. Many of these pieces will be part of a solo exhibition this coming winter at the Cape Cod Museum of Art.

The family-friendly exhibition, SALLEY MAVOR: Once Upon a Stitch, will feature a wide selection of original embroidered artwork from my 25 year career illustrating children’s books. You can see them here. Several pieces will be on loan from private collections. These are rarely seen by anyone other than the owner’s friends and family. This is a unique opportunity to see the detail and 3-dimensional quality of my artwork in person.
SALLEY MAVOR: Once Upon a Stitch
Dec. 12, 2019 – Jan. 26, 2020
Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Opening Reception: Friday, Dec. 13 – 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm ~ Artist Galley Talk at 4:00 pm

To photograph the art, we set up the equipment in the spare room, with a light box to minimize harsh shadows. The room’s sky light affected the light balance, so we covered it with another defuser. The camera was propped up on a tripod, facing straight down. To counteract the weight of the heavy camera lens, we hung a bag of stones at the other end of the extension pole. When I asked why the camera had to be so far above the art, Rob told me that the long 100 mm focal lens maintains the correct perspective. I’m glad that he understands this stuff!

For closeup shots, we lowered the camera.

The closeup photos will be used for a treasure hunt for kids (and adults) that I’m putting together for the Once Upon a Thread exhibition.

An advantage of taking high resolution close-up is that the photo quality isn’t lost when they are blown up big. For the exhibition, I’m playing with scale by juxtaposing extra large details with my miniature artwork.

This week, we had a storm and the power was off for 3 days. So, instead of working at the computer, I settled in near a window and stitched, like a character in a Jane Austen novel. Although I’m glad to have electricity back, so that I can write and publish this post, I’m missing the simple pleasure of making things by hand by the light of the sun. That and a cup of tea is my idea of heaven!

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10 thoughts on “Studio goings-on

  1. (Trying again with a comment)😊 I was fortunate to see one of your exhibits years ago and had the room to myself early in the day. As an avid embroiderer, it was wonderful to linger and take in all the details.

  2. Hello Sally.
    I was exited whe I read about the photographing & framing. I am interested in HOW you hang the work in the frame. Do you use an adhesive tape or tack the picture to the backing?
    Sally thank you for share your passion with the world and with me. I’ve had friends over to make the wee folk from your books and have forwarded some of your post with fiber artist friends. You have enriched my life with possibilities. I hope you have on the West Coast possibly the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.
    Blessings and delight to you
    Beverly Akin

    • Thank you Beverly! I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed making the wee folk with your friends. To answer your question about attaching the art inside the frame. Firstly, the fabric is stapled around a wooden stretcher. Then the stretcher is tacked in place with little nails inside the frame.

      • Good morning Sally,
        Thanks for the reply and here are a couple more questions.
        Do you have any write ups with pictures of the framing process?
        Do you use a stretcher like the stretched canvas or a skinnier wood?
        Do you add fabric so it doesn’t put holes in your art piece? Regular stapler or heavy duty stapler?
        I create needlefelted pictures and I’ve not been satisfied with the mountings. My next picture is due Nov 17 and I thought your finishing method may work for me too.
        Blessings on this day
        Beverly Akin

      • I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can, Beverly.
        Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures of the framing process. For large pieces 24 x 30, I use the kind of stretchers painters use. For smaller pieces, I use the thinner variety sold for needlework. Sometimes I staple a heavy piece of cotton to the stretcher first and then mount the art on top. I use a heavy duty stapler. Good luck with your project. as you know, presentation is so important!

  3. Ahhhh photographing and framing work ….. yes ! SO much work áfter you’ve finished your artwork …
    Lots of success with the new exhibition ! (would LOVE to see your work up close … unfortunately that isn’t possible have to stick with the pictures 😉 !)

  4. I understand the time it takes to do all of these things, but how important it is! Your work is beautiful and inspires me. You will have a wonderful show… wish I could be there!

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