Archive for the ‘commission’ Category

Anatomy of a Commission – Delivery Completed

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Now I can publish the final pic – the client has taken delivery and expressed her approval of the whole thing, and I hope she enjoys it for years and years.

I have been a bit carried away with blogging the various stages of making this quilt, to a degree I rarely have before, except for writing magazine articles, but they have been technique oriented/specific. and required detailed pics and instructions. In these posts I have tried to cover all the issues one comes up with in carrying out a commission – well, there are many others, but everything went well with this one, so what to do when things-go-wrong kinds of issues might be covered elsewhere some other time!

The binding is my very favourite method: cut on the straight, formed into one continuous folded strip and first attached to the front, then folded back and slip stitched down on the back side. The corners fall into mitre-shaped folds naturally. It is fully described as french binding in Mimi Deitrich’s book on quilt bindings,’Happy Endings’. The binding fabric – I bought in San Francisco in 1992; I’ve carted it around the world since then but until this piece I have never seriously contemplated using it for anything. My rule when buying fabric is that I only ever buy fabrics I really love; but more than once I have looked at this one and wondered, what on earth was I thinking that day? Posted by Picasa

Commissions – General

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Commissions , to do one or not, can be a vexed question.

I know some people will never take them on. Others seem to work mostly designing things for others. I’m in between, as I enjoy the challenge of an occasional commission, meeting the hopes of a client, within their budget if that is a concern. As long as it fits with the kind of work I was planning to be doing, anyway.

A woman once rang offering good money for me to make a Heritage or Heirloom bedspread (using cream satins and laces, pearl buttons, bows, and other sentimental mush in effect) It is not at all the kind of thing I have ever done, so I don’t know why she called me ( did she want to be able to say she had an “Alison Schwabe” in her possession? I wish more people felt that way …) but I did put her in touch with someone who really liked working that way, and was happy to do what she wanted.

Anyway, “Misssion Beach”, 1995, (pictured) was not a commission, but led to one.

A couple had seen my quilt in a gallery, and the savvy owner let them take it to try in their home ( this hugely increases the chance of a sale) Then they asked the owner to contact me with two questions: could the quilt be hung up the other way? and could the price be reduced to fit their tight budget? NO on both counts! My answer carefully explained that to do this without the side bits flopping over and always looking terrible, the peaky bits would need to be deconstructed, stiffening inserted and the edges re-finished again, making a fair bit of tedious finicky work, which I could do just fine, but for which I’d have to charge a certain large sum in addition to the purchase price.

One of the most irregular shaped quilts I have ever made, Mission Beach is one of my most important, landmark quilts, and has always been a real favourite. It was designed to hang the specific way it shows above – it suggests a 3-d wave through which stringers of seaweed can be seen – lots of very glittery machine embroidery to suggest wateriness, although it hangs absolutely flat against the wall (black here) Several potential buyers hummed and haahed (over the price, but I would never reduce it) and in about 2003 it was bought by a Perth woman to give to her yachting husband. Many of the irregular shaped bits on each side are cut and shaped to just hang. If hung the other way they would just flop over. But, the real question was why did they think it needed to be up the other way? I went with the gallery owner to these people’s home, and we saw at once what the problem was: to the right of where they hoped to hang it, was a large picture window, and the lines of the quilt’s design took the eye out of the window in a rather disconcerting way. Hanging up the other way the attention of the eye stayed in the room (which of course defeats the purpose of the picture window, but I do remember it being unsettling) We talked a while, I had several other watery things to show them, they clearly wanted blues and greens, and then we got to price – they couldn’t afford it. But they could afford something around 2/3 the price – the outcome was we agreed to a commission. Deposit, contact, once isgned and sealed I made them one in blues and greens, with less complex piecing, rather like a curved “Waterweave” but with a strongly curved design lines heading back the other direction. Lots of peaky bits top and bottom, they loved it, it looked terrific on their wall, and I hope theyr’e still enjoying it. I really enjoyed working with those people.

But I have experienced people being very difficult, and believe that a serious deposit or design fee, and a signed contract can help to avoid pitfalls. In 1993 there was a Denver couple who contacted me, well she did, about the possibility of designing and making a contemporary quilt for their new home. Once I received her design fee check, non refundable, I drove up to see the house and hear her plans. The house was gorgeous, drop dead modern, with huge picture windows overlooking the kind of view money can buy in Colorado, and one which couldn’t be built out. There were several great dramatic contemporary ceramic pieces and a couple of lovely pictures on the wall. Money plus taste – a nice combination.

She was all gung-ho, and I left there with photos of the room, wall plans etc, ideas starting to form already on the way home (nearly an hour’s drive each way) I mailed her some design ideas and was called up again to meet her husband this time. I took some quilts to give him some idea of the kind of thing I could do, prices, quality of finish and how these things hang. As he looked and cast my works aside one by one, almost rudely, it became clear that these two were nowhere near being on the same page – not even in the same chapter. In fact, a tension between them suggested he already thought she’d spent quite enough …. so as I realised I couldn’t work with these two, probably ever, I stood up, thanked them for their time, said that since they each saw things so differently just now, they were not ready to commission anything, and so I could not work with them at the moment Before leaving I suggested they contact me again whenever they had reached agreement, and we could talk again. Of course, I never heard from them – we moved away a few months later anyway, and the stupid woman is probably still wasting his money.

Anatomy of a Commission- Finale, almost

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

It’s all finished – the quilt is all bound, sleeved, signed and photographed, and with a little luck and a fair wind it will be on its way up to the US client in a couple of days, in the safe hands of a trusted friend. I am refraining from putting up the final pic until I hear from the client that it is in her hands – I feel she needs to see the final effect first, but I am very happy with it, and the worst she could do is dislike it in the flesh, return the quilt along with most of the deposit and we’d be square. I am sure she won’t though. Anyway when I have word from her, I will post the pic showing the final choice of binding.
Now I will head upstairs and do what I always do at the end of a piece – put all the fabrics back in their particular clear placcy (pillow and blanket)bags based on broad colour groupings, throw out the rubbish of offcuts and bits too small to use or save, clear up the threads off the floor, and get out what I am planning to use for the next work. Attention turns again to something new for my July exhibition with Petra, in addition to finishing off the mustard and grey leather quilt which still needs quite a bit of hand quilting. And some ideas have begun percolating to use the frog leather I was given last year…. almost hate to cut into the skins, but need to test the idea now, it works in principle on paper.

Anatomy of a Commission – Day 7

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

This is actually day 9 – I have not done anything to this piece since monday.
Over the last couple of days I have heard from my client, who is happy with progress so far and has again expressed her preference for a binding, with which I quite agree, now. It is not always possible to see so far ahead – the answer to the question, “To bind, or not to bind,” may not become clear until all the piecing, or even the quilting, has been carried out.

I mentioned in the earlier posts on this subject that I had found a couple of pieces of (leftover) binding from other projects which might be considered suitable.

The tomato/red/pink opiece to the left is so long, I am thinking “How could someone have SO MUCH leftover?” I must have been really out of it the day I worked out the measurements and bound that quilt, But, already I can see, particularly from the next photo, that this long leftover piece lives to bind another quilt, another day – it just does not do enough for this one.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Although somehow I am unable to flip this image , maybe being 90 degress out helps see the options more clearly, anyway. At east this is better than seeoing only a little suare with red x in it in place of the photo, as faced me when I turned in to write more today. The only one of several pics I posted a few days ago. Bloody computers and Bloody Blogger, when they act together the results can be a little unpredictable.

So, these three strips pinned across the finished layers are in the preliminary auditions so to speak, for being the binding fabric chosen for this quilt. At this point I think the purple is safe but boring, the tomato red isn’t nearly as exciting as the stripe containing a lot of black. MOre fabrics will be assessed, and one finally chosen – but no rush until after the quilting is completed.

OF COURSE, before setting out to quilt this piece, I will be doing some quilting samples on scraps of fabric sandwiched with offcuts of the same batting and backing, to make sure it gives the look I want. And, I am prepared to spend however much time is necessary for this as it always pays. My machine is cleaned and oiled, a new jeans needle fitted, and the pearlescent thread I plan to use in the top third or so, is threaded, ready for samplising first thing.

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