08 Jan

On Hanging Sleeves

I’ve written about three blog posts since the last one. Only problem is, I was writing them in my head and apparently, imaginary writing and photos in the camera but not downloaded do not an ACTUAL blog post make!

My goal in January is to finish up as many unfinished projects as possible. First, the easy stuff. I had four quilts that needed hanging sleeves and I spent two days at the beginning of the week on those. That’s when I wrote one of those imaginary blog posts. I think it was about appropriate hanging devices for one’s art. Recently I read a heated debate about whether or not hanging sleeves detracted from a quilt’s value as art.

I think that there are many appropriate ways to hang and display textile art. I do like to give my small pieces more presence with framing and/or grouping like the collection in my bedroom that I wrote about here. I’ve been wrapping some pieces on stretcher bars when the piece calls for it, but have found that the larger the piece, the less well it travels, nor can it be hung against a draped partition (saw a small piece on stretchers at Houston and though the artwork was nice, the way it hung was very distracting).

A sleeve allows for a slat or rod to be passed through and support the usually rather floppy nature of textile art, like a tapestry, or something as mundane as the drapes in your living room. For certain types of pieces, a rod with decorative ends that show is appropriate. My favorite though, is a slat shorter than the width of the quilt with a hole at each end, or an eye screw, that you can stick onto two nails in the wall. This type of device supports the quilt, is invisible from the front, and is supremely practical for venues like quilt shows (where I believe the vast majority of art quilts are being shown, and which the most flexible and cost effective way to hang said quilts is from rods hung in front of draped partitions). When my “Impressions of Germany” quilts hung in a gallery, the eye screws did not hang on nails in the wall, but from small hooks suspended on wires from a track at the top of the wall (a flexible system for a place that rotates a lot of work).

I was thinking about this as I sewed sleeves onto one rectangular art quilt for the wall and three pieces of textile art in apron form (for lack of a better description). The first one was easy-peasy. But the aprons required a little compromise. Ideally, I’d like to see them hang from a laundry line about a foot in front of a gallery wall, or displayed on dress forms (or real people at an opening). But this is just not practical when they are a part of a show that premiers at a quilt show and has the potential to travel to more pole and drape venues. So, I sewed basic sleeves to the back of “Home Fires” and “Issues Public and Private.” The latter is pretty heavy and tends to bow in, so I added little rings to the lower corners so that they can be pinned to the “hard” wall they’ll be displayed on. The apron strings will also have to be pinned in an attractive manner, so I will draw up a diagram to include with the quilts when I send them off. I’m OK with a few strategically placed pins in my fabric. Pins and fabric have been coexisting for centuries as long as there’s not too much pulling or moisture. “Hanging on by a Thread” was a little trickier since it is sheer. I asked if I could forego a sleeve and have it pinned to the wall by more rings sewn to the back of the waistband. I also suggested a narrow sleeve that did not extend below the opaque waistband. Both were no-goes. So, I made a standard sleeve, but out of very sheer fabric so that teh bit that extends below the waistband is pretty subtle. I’ll remove the sleeve as soon as the piece returns from the show and I can hang it to my satisfaction. It occurs to me now though, that I could send a photo of the sheer sleeve and with that evidence, ask again for an exception to policy.  I also realize that I need to look less at quilt show type venues and court more gallery type ones if I’m going to be creating pieces with special needs (a long term goal already filed in the recesses of my brain).

“Lava” 2010

By the way, the piece modeling the happy aloha sleeve is another new year finish. When I was working on “Kilauea” for Twelve by Twelve I wanted to incorporate some cool twisty fabric from Mary at Art Spirit. It didn’t work in 12×12 format, but with all my leftover half square triangles, it’s made a nice wall hanging (click on it to see detail photos on Flickr).