What’s going on in my studio?

collage of magazine papers to make an old red barn

My studio is a disaster area. Yup … I have piles of stuff everywhere. Deadlines are looming for my red exhibit so I have piles of work to complete, piles to add sleeves on, facings to sew, names to think of …

Talking about naming your work. How do you go about it? Do you think of the name first and create work after? Does the name come to you half-way through? Do you agonize about what to call your piece?

I create first and name after. Very, very seldom do I have a name for a piece half-way through. More often than not, pieces go unnamed until I don’t have a choice, like now, and have to think of something.

To that end, I carry a list of “stuff” on my phone: words, phrases I hear – from lyrics on the radio to what I’m watching on TV, the book I’m reading – something catches my attention and I jot it down. Then, when I need to name one of my pieces, I read through the list and try to find a word here or there that resonates. Sometimes it’s simple. Other times, well … not so much. In the end, what you name your piece it’s personal. It doesn’t have to explain anything to anyone, right? mmhhh … maybe?

Organizing the exhibit this week meant naming all the quilts without names – about 80% of the pieces. Yikes! Some names I am happy with, some … well … I may change if I come up with something better. Some names are obvious – and that’s OK. Some names are more obscure – makes you wonder why the name. I like that. I often stand in front of pieces with names that are not obvious and wonder what the artist’s inspiration was, or what the mood was when the making was taking place.

On to the organization part of the exhibit. I had to figure out how many more pieces I needed to make to cover the exhibition space I have. With that in mind, and the “map” I was given, I set out to create an Excel spreadsheet to scale .

placement chart PIQF

It took a while to finish the chart – the best part of 2 days, but it needed to be done. I feel more organized this time around, so at 10:30 on Tuesday morning, when the time comes to set up my portion of the exhibit, I can put the pieces on the floor in position, ready to hang up.

How did I decide where to put what? I have measurements for the walls, side walls are 8 feet and back walls are 10 feet and I know I have 10 panels: 3 are 10 feet and 7 are 9 feet. With that in mind, and thinking that the “outside wall” will be the “start” of the exhibit – where the name will be – I began to place pieces.

First – the outside wall. How to draw people in to the exhibit? One large quilt or two smaller ones? Decisions, decisions. In the end, I decided on the tryptich and one of my collage pieces – as it’s part of the design created by Fotoda to create the vases in the tryptich. Once I’m in situ, I may change my mind. But for now, I’m happy with the decision. I think it will work well.

old vase tryptich

At the end of the exercise, I figured I needed to finish two more pieces – an architectural piece and the one with the vases and the window.. I have enough for the exhibit. I may even have too many? If that’s the case, one of the architectural pieces will go to illustrate my lecture.

The guessing is done! I have a plan, a list, measurements, insurance prices, and I even worked on artist statements. That’s something that needs to be done also. What to say? I have to make cards for each one of the pieces I’m bringing, Name, year, measurement plus artist statement and materials? I was given a template – and it has large font so not a huge amount of space to ramble on. I talk about inspiration, about technique, about process and materials.

I wanted the exhibit to be more interactive – so it’s not just one quilt next to the other ,next to the next one. I wanted to talk about why I made them. The inspiration behind them. The process. To that end, some of the pieces will have extra “cards” to explain the inspiration behind the piece. Maybe some pieces of fabric tacked to them, or a photo of the collage that I sent to print to Spoonflower. I’m working on those cards now.

Below is an image of “Awaits an old red barn” on the left – painted on canvas dropcloth with Procion Dyes – and two more pieces I created: a collage with painted papers and a second collage with magazine papers.

Next step is to make labels now that all the pieces are named. I have a set template I created that I like to use, which means that I need to photograph each piece. I work on PowerPoint where one sheet gives me 4 labels to print on my inkjet printer on prepared fabric. I purchased some more packages that I’m expecting to arrive this week. Once all labels are printed, then it’s a matter of sewing them all on. It should be a breeze! Right! Bonus! I get to do it outside, under my pergola, sitting on my new patio furniture :)

Today, as I write this, I’m feeling confident. Relieved that most pieces are done – 3 to go at this point. The fear is gone. The doubts are still there but less pronounced. I have been ticking boxes and that – alone – feels good.

I’m off to continue with what needs to be done. Until I write again, enjoy the warm days,


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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing, and slightly stressful, process Anna!! Definitely sounds like you have it all under control! You’ve got this!!

    1. Thanks. Glad you liked it. It’s in Santa Clara, California at Pacific International Quilt Festival at the end of July. If you are there, come and say hi!

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