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Display/Showcase Your Finished Pieces


Janel

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For all of us who present our work to others, whether at the studio, in home or at a show/sale event, how do you do it? Various elements of the discussion should refer to the structure, lighting, portability or permanance for the intended purpose, materials used. Other more thoughtful elements on how to use the space to make the display attractive without detracting from the work. Theories and experiences also are welcome.

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This is a shot of my booth taken ten years ago! :) I still use the same set-up, but have six poster size photos that hang on the drapes, and I have different liners in the cases, that are less stark than the white. I have thought many times about upgrading, but frankly it works well and I still get comments about how effective it is. People ask all the time if the photos are for sale. My theory on display is similar to photographing my work. If you can create a situation that doesn't distract from the work, you're on the right track.

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This is the basic structure which I have used for the past ten years, since I switched to carving wood. It fits on a corner or in a three sided booth. I switched to corners (more expensive) when I realized that when three or more people are standing at the front of the case, the rest of the population walks right by, not seeing anything. The corner opens up three sides for viewing, and a flow through space at the back of it for me to draw people in.

 

The Abatracta, the tubes and connectors, have served me since the middle 1980's. Back then the shelves were glass, now the shelves and side panes are plexi-glas. The elements are endlessly changable, the earlier years' structures for shows included three-sided booth walls, a kiosk, and display units covered in the black flame resistant fabric, which needs steaming. The shelves are cherry veneer plywood. I apologize for the orange quality in the images. It is a bit orange in real life, but not quite so potent.

 

It takes a while to set up, but the effect is good. I daydream of unfolding a few hinged parts, dusting the clear parts and plugging in the lights, ready for the work to be placed in it. I have not figured out how to accomplish that. Ideally I would like the unit capable of flying or shipping for minimal $$, with wheels. Lots of fantasy time during the quiet hours of the shows!

 

My plan with this structure is to provide security from desiring hands, and to show as much of each piece as possible. I was so proud of myself when I figured out how to suspend the carvings above a mirror so many years ago! It is fun to watch viewers discover the bottom of the pieces in the mirrors after looking for so long a time at the carving itself!

 

Like Jim, I too believe in having a display that does not distract from the work. The biggest draw back from this structure is the reflection of all that is above the mirrors, especially the lighting from the facility and from the mounted lights on the display. I could erect a tent with a black canopy, but I just don't go that far with the labor and hauling of booth parts.

 

The cherry shelves are the only colorful element, and may help to catch the passersby attention. My work is so itty bitty, that one must actually be looking for it to notice that there is something in the cases. The shelving may be a bit strong for the work, but does serve a purpose. When the shelves were first used, I had celadon and pale blue glazes on carved porcelain, and was good for the work.

 

I have not managed to make poster pictures yet, though that might bring more attention to the work. Imagine a two foot tall frog!

 

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As I was thinking sometime yesterday, I realized that I really don't have an idea of how many of you present your work for sale to audiences at shows, or have a need for presentation equipment. Do you have storage/showcases at home/studio? Who brings what where to show to whom?

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I haven't participated in shows as selective and high-quality as Jim or Janel, but for local woodcarving shows, art fairs, etc, I'm usually given a spot with a 7' long folding table.

 

I cover it with a dark blue cloth and display my items on that. I have my items out in the open, so to speak, but it's never been a problem- people always ask before they touch and things stay pretty orderly. The table, however is right at the height of a 7 year-old child :) so I need to stay attentive.

 

For the pieces I want to 'highlight', I've built a short display stand out of a slab of hickory. On it rest 5 blocks, of varying height (cut out of fence post stock). These blocks are covered with a celery-green satin bookcloth. Five carvings sit on these blocks.

 

I think the blue and pale green colors work well with the various wood tones. I've thought about different surfaces to cover the table with, but most other things seem like they'd conflict with or overwhelm the visual impact of my work which I'm trying to convey.

 

I also usually include a stack of books about miniature carving, so people can stay awhile and flip through pictures and chat. It helps so I don't have to explain what a netsuke is to 300 people in the course of a day (for my carvings that express that craft form).

 

For lighting, I rely on one or two clip-on architect-style lamps, plus the ceiling-mounted track lighting a lot of exhibit venues already have.

 

I'll try to get a photo of the table top, but getting access to a camera is not always easy for me.

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