Let’s Do The Numbers

Earlier this week, I invited you to my first ever solo show. Which is kind of true and kind of not. You see, I actually have two solo shows in February. I know that’s a bit much. It’s one of those be careful what you wish for moments. But it happened, and I’m going with it.

My second show called Art of the Grid is at the Wiseman Gallery in Grants Pass, Oregon.

On Monday of this week, I felt like I was in pretty good shape. I just needed to attach a couple of facings, some hanging sleeves, and labels and pop it all in box and send it down the coast. I thought I would be heading to the post office early Tuesday afternoon. HA!

Why do the details ALWAYS take longer than you think they will? In response to that question, I decided to do the numbers.

The Wiseman Gallery has 1,100 inches of linear space. To properly fill the gallery, I needed to have at least 550 linear inches of quilt. I created 17 quilts for a total of 613 linear inches. So far so good. Now its just a matter of a little hand stitching.

I gathered my supplies. Duck tape to make thimbles, a stop watch to actually document how long it takes me to do these things, and the other usual notions needed for crossing the finish line.

Maria Shell SuppliesI made a chart identifying what needed to be done to each quilt to get it ready for shipping.

Maria Shell ChartI had to face TRIBE

Maria Shell back of TRIBEand Crazy Daisy.

Maria Shell back of Crazy DaisyTo make facings for a quilt takes me about 45 minutes per quilt. Once the facing is machine stitched to one side of the quilt, it takes me about a minute per linear inch to hand stitch the other side down. Total time to face these two quilts- 8 HOURS.

I know this seems very slow. I quilt my pieces very densely, which means that attaching facings and sleeves is hard work.

Maria Shell Facing EdgeWith each stitch I must check the front to confirm that I did not stitch through all three layers. If you are interested in how I make facings, you can read about it in this post called Facing Your Quilt.

Maria Shell Facing EdgeNext, I needed to attach seven hanging sleeves.

seven hanging sleeves maria shellI put a top and a bottom hanging sleeve on all of my quilts. As with stitching facings down, I move at about one linear inch a minute. Total time to attach seven hanging sleeves- 9 HOURS.

If you would like to know how I sleeve and hang my quilts you can by reading this post called Hanging Your Quilt.

This is where I sat and stitched for most of the week.

Maria ShellHour after hour.

Maria ShellNotice the duct tape armor.

Duct tape armor by Maria ShellI jammed the point of my needle into the tender flesh under my thumb nail more than once. I know we’ve all been there–it hurts doesn’t it? Ozzy has another idea about duct tape armor.

Ozzy and duct tape armorNext, I needed to attach eleven labels. I was thinking maybe fifteen minutes a label.

Maria Shell LabelsI can’t believe how delusional I am when it comes to these things. Each label from start to finish takes about an hour. Total time to attach eleven labels–11 HOURS.

Maria Shell Quilt LabelNow we are getting somewhere.

But first I have stop for just a moment and cover my studio in these quilts.

Maria Shell Studio covered in Color GridsWho knows if they will ever all be together again.

Maria Shell's Studio covered in Color GridsSo I better take a few pictures.

Maria Shell's Studio Covered in Color GridsNext up is the shipping plastic. Kato LOVES rolling in plastic.

Kato and plasticI don’t understand, but it brings him ecstatic kitty joy.

Kato and plasticI iron each quilt, then I tuck the hanging slats into their sleeves, roll it up, wrap it in plastic, and add it to the pile.

Maria Shell pile of quiltsTotal time to iron and pack 17 quilts–2 HOURS.

Maria Shell pile of quiltsAnd finally, they go into the box, which is labeled, and mailed. Total time to pack and mail–1 1/2 HOURS.

Box of quilts Maria ShellTOTAL TOTAL TIME 31. 5 Hours and DONE.

I wish I were kicking back with some fancy cocktail and a giant plate of pasta right now cause I did just cross a finish line. Unfortunately, that was just THIS Thursday’s finishing line.

I’ve got a whole other set of quilts to prep for the show at the Bunnell Street Arts Center.  As Walt said last night after we went to the post office and grocery store, “I hope you enjoyed your break. Cause you’ve got to go back to work now.”

This entry was published on January 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM. It’s filed under Just Plain Stories, News And Events, Quilt Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

28 thoughts on “Let’s Do The Numbers

  1. Well Done!! A marathon completed. I too ALWAYS underestimate how long work takes to finish. Part of the problem is mentally I am moving on to the next project so it is hard to be patient.

  2. I am exhausted just reading about our pace no less recording and photographing it all for the blog. Kudos to you, dear Maria and have a wonderful response for both exhibits. You rock as the boys would say.

    • Thank you Aunt Carole!

      • Re your wanting to lay out and play with the quilts some more? We artists tend to do this with our own creations but the best thing is to move them on and out or sell them–oh, the lack of storage– having learned from them to once again fill the spaces in our psyches to create more while the learning is hot.

      • Carole- I think you are right. For the most part, what I want to do is make things. But sometimes there are pieces I really don’t want to let go of, and those are the ones that hang in our house. It’s a good thing we have wall space!

  3. The devil is in the details….Great article Maria. Wish your exhibit was back in Bellevue so we could stop in and enjoy. Good luck cousin!

  4. Wow! Scary, but you DID IT!
    I love the way they look laid out all over the studio. But I’m sure they’ll look even better on those 1,110 linear inches of wall. Btw, I’m impressed that you have enough work for TWO solo shows! Way to go!

  5. Rule of thumb in architecture: multiply all time estimates by THREE and you are probably getting close to reality. I LOVE the photos of the quilts spread all over.

    • That’s a good tip Petra. I think if I did that, I would be paralyzed by the reality of the hours. I have estimated the time on the final stages before, and I always conveniently forget them. Its like child birth. We forget the pain, so that we are capable of doing it again!

  6. Norma Schlager on said:

    I love this blog entry. I’ve never kept track of how long anything takes, but perhaps I should. Your work looks fabulous and I like the way it all looks together. Good luck with the show.

  7. Jane Iverson on said:

    Well Done. Sounds like my week. I am in the midst of hanging an exhibit of my collection of antique quilt and hooked rugs at the Country Market where I work. So in between my two ‘real jobs; I have been sewing on sleeves and cutting dowelling, screwing in screw eyes and then hanging the show bit by bit over the next few days. Phew it is a lot of work and you have done an excellent job of documenting it!

    • It is a lot of work! It’s funny how the quilts are done, so you think you are done, but you’ve still got loads of work to do. Good luck with your show! It sounds lovely.

  8. marginmirror on said:

    Whoa! I was with you every step of the way, as my process is similar — just on a lot fewer quilts. 😉 Your colourful pieces will make for two great shows. Best wishes for success!

  9. She uses that damn stopwatch on me all the time

  10. I always underestimate the time it takes to do the finishing work. On of my goals for 2014 is to get each piece faced, labelled and ready to hang before I move on to the next project. And to write the artist’s statement and take good photographs. We’ll see…

    Congratulations on the shows. I know they’ll be fantastic!

    • Heather, every time I am in this pickle I swear I will do just that–really finish each piece before I move on. And then I don’t do it! If you figure out the secret to making that happen please let me know.

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  12. WOW! Love your quilts! The pictures where you are showing all of them is super cool! Wish I could see those in person!

    • Thank you Linda for stopping by. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed seeing my work. I really want to some day have a show where I display that quilts like that. I don’t know how I would do the floor? Cover it with plexi-glass maybe?

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  14. Hmm. If you are sending each quilt to a different show you also have to take into consideration the time it takes to parse and follow each detail of the shipping instructions. Do they want you to have the label in a specific place? Do you then have to cover it up for a judging process? Do they want a card with other information in an envelope taped to a certain place? And don’t forget the time it takes to create the shipping label, and the return shipping labels. And the time it takes to hunt down, order, or create boxes for each specific quilt.

    Excellent post!

    • Lyric- You are so right. It can get very complicated if you are sending lots of quilts in lots of directions. As I have gotten a better resume, I have become much more selective about the what, when, where and why of sending quilts out, but in the beginning I did it. It is part of our profession. I wish one my kids would consider being my office manager!

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