Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Volume of Working

I have been creating quilts and fiber art for seventeen years. Currently, I have over 200 pieces of varying sizes, some framed and some not, in house. The earlier pieces are individuals, done before I began to work in multiple piece series.

I've begun to explore topics.  My previous was North Korea. Currently, I am content focusing on water, specifically the shoreline. This means that I am actually creating more, in shorter amounts of time. I am committing myself as a full time artist - working at a minimum thirty hours in my studio a week. (Keep in mind that as an artist, not all work happens in the studio.)

Being more productive, while good for me as a growing artist, I can see might be an issue for keeping a clean studio and home. Working in themes/topics is producing far more pieces than I was before. At this rate, storage is going to be an issue with in a year or two.

Obviously the ideal resolution, would be for most of the pieces to sell. Realistically that isn't going to happen, and I am going to need to find a way to deal with the situation.

Currently I am using some fabulous pants hangers from Target. But I am using half of our entryway closet. This has meant moving hoodies and sweaters upstairs into the bedroom closet. The hangers however, alleviate the fear of hard creases, and I make sure to put enough pieces in, that the hanger doesn't leave much crease at all. I have the framed pieces leaning against the walls in my studio - not my ideal storage strategy. I also have a suitcase full of small table top frame pieces.

I really don't have a solution at this point, I am merely hoping to open a discussion here. I'm here to ask you fiber artists that have hundreds of pieces done, how are you dealing with the storage and archiving of your pieces?

I feel uncomfortable with my older pieces, that no one has bough thus for (and likely won't.) What do you do with them? What do you do when you don't want to reduce how much you create because of the space it takes up?

Have any of you dealt with this situation? Let's hear from you, leave a comment below. Want to share your story about this? Contact me at if you would like to share your story/pictures here at The Fiber Nation (use Quilt Storage in the subject line).


  1. I keep my quilts avoid the dreaded crease. My smaller pieces are in plastic under-bed storage in pretty much every room except the Master BR which has other stuff. I have an antique armoire in the guest room, also full of rolled quilts.... and there is a stack of bigger rolled quilts in the guest room. The guests usually really enjoy it. There is a hanging bar in the room and they can look through the quilts and pick one to hang while they are there.

  2. I have not been working long enough to have the storage issue yet (a lot of my earlier pieces were made with the idea of giving them to specific people, so those pieces are not an issue), but I have recently begun to work on a series of pieces, and see this storage issue coming down the road.

    Right now the pieces I'm storing are either laid flat in a box (the smaller pieces) or rolled around pool noodles

    I'll be watching with interest to see what ideas are presented on this issue!

  3. This has been an issue for me, too. I store mine in a couple of closets, hung, and the framed ones on the floor with something like bubble wrap between them for protection of the art and the frame. As my work has evolved, I find the older work less appealing, and sometimes, an embarrassment. If it is an embarrassment, I may cut it up, and cannibalize the sections of good design, and make a smaller piece, or an art card. Or, throw it in the trash. I gift some work of the work I like, and donate some to support worthy causes. This work is often past the exhibition window, the 2-5 year time frame. What I consider my best work, in my current view, I'll keep for solo exhibits where I can present my series. Not too long ago, I read an article where some of our wonderful patrons, like the Ardis couple, found there is no after market for art quilts. So instead of leaving a big problem for my heirs, I'm trying to place my work in my life time. My joy is in creating. Selling is a plus, and it does happen from time to time, but I still have too big a collection. I'll be interested in others responses. Good question.

  4. I also have about 200 pieces, quilts and thread paintings. Moving twice was an opportunity to divest by throwing some out, removing my name and donating some to charity. I do give to fundraisers but want those to be representative of my work and name. It is a conundrum. I wish I could sell them but if not, I do not know what to do. We may want to move to a smaller place and that will require some solution.

  5. Most of mine are rolled one the pool toy, at least the art Quilts.. some are the dreaded, Folded for space, but those are the beginning pieced ones...
    And there is a stack on the guest bed.. when guests come, I have to transfer them to the Master bedroom.. It worked well to put them on one of my husbands exercise units that he does not use. And that worked well till it collapsed.
    I like the idea of the pants hangers.. Might try that for the smaller ones.. Other wise, I am putting some to foam core, putting clear plastic and setting them in a bin at the gallery. Some have sold that way. Never know what the public likes.

  6. Great idea - love the hangers.

    If they aren't selling, then have a personal exhibit. You'd be surprised how many would sell! I have regular show&sales locally and it's a great way to create a name for yourself (as opposed to trying to get noticed over in Etsy for example).

    Anything that really will not move gets donated to charity auctions.

    : )

  7. I use flatfiles that used to house mechanical drawings for corporations when they used to use plotters to print out the drawings for parts, etc created by drafting engineers.

    These work great for pieces up to 36"x36" which lay flat and 10 of them (or more depending on size) fit into one drawer. A section of 10 drawers fit nicely under one cutting table and my other cutting table which is 4 foot by 8 foot mat will house another 20 drawers when I need to add another set.

    Many corporations are getting rid of these since most everything is now on computers and rarely printed out anymore. I see them quite often on Craigs List for about $100 or less.

    I put acid free paper between each one. I also do use them for a bit larger pieces as well since most of my work travels a great deal for fine art exhibitions so they don't remain folded for very long at any given time.

  8. Stephanie,

    I saved this article a while back:

    Hope this helps.

  9. Stephanie,
    my husband made me a wonderful storage cupboard for my quilts in the past year ( ), so I'm set for a long time to come. Having said that, my not-so-successful pieces bother me a bit. I don't really want to donate sub-standard work, either. I would actually consider destroying some of them if I was running out of space. I love the use of hangers for smaller quilts, by the way! Might have to implement that...