Organize Your Weaving Studio
You’ve made all of these beautiful and wonderful weavings, but what exactly do you do with them while you are waiting for them to find new homes? More accurately, how to do you protect your weavings and where do they live until then?
First thing, I don’t recommend just letting them sit out indefinitely until you are ready to ship them off.
Think about the dust and pet hair that they might acquire in the meantime!
So much dog hair…
It’s great to have a system in place that not only influences how you store and protect your weavings, but also how you organize them while they are stored.
There’s definitely no one method fits all when it comes to… well anything pretty much ever, but if you are looking to store and protect your weavings than I highly recommend looking into these options.
What You Will Need:
Pool noodles (yes you read that correctly) or cardboard tubes
Muslin or similar natural cotton fabric
String or scrap yarn
Hole punch (optional)
For Flat Weavings
Let’s start first with the pool noodles or cardboard tubes. If I lost you at pool noodles, then just hang in there with me for a minute.
There’s a method to the madness.
If you are unaware of pool noodles, I am talking about the long foam tubes that you find in summertime that are colorful and lightweight and used to suspend yourself in water.
These are perfect for shipping and storing your weavings!
Think about it: they are a good diameter to keep your weaving from being rolled too tight, while at the same time taking up the least amount of space. They are also lightweight so they don’t add a lot to your shipping costs.
It’s important to not roll your weaving too tight, or it will be want to keep that shape once you are ready to hang it.
Cardboard tubes are another option if you don’t want to use foam or the pool noodles are out of season. They will be a little heavier than the foam noodles, but that is really only an issue if you are shipping your weavings and are concerned about the price to ship.
Muslin is the ideal fabric for wrap and protect your weavings.
It is an inexpensive and lightweight cotton plain weave fabric often used for creating mock garments. Muslin is also unbleached and un-dyed so it is perfect to have against your weavings and won’t transfer any unwanted colors or fibers.
Muslin can be bought at any fabric store or online. If you don’t have muslin or can’t find it – you can use any other untreated cotton fabric to wrap around your weaving.
Most pool noodles are neon colored and are not ideal to have directly against your weaving. First thing you will want to do is wrap your pool noodle or tube with the muslin. This will give your weaving a smooth surface to rest against and also portray a clean professional surface if you are shipping your artwork off.
I don’t recommend shipping out your weaving with just a plain neon green pool noodle…
Next, cut your fabric so it is a few inches longer than the length of the pool noodle or tube so that you can tuck it inside after wrapping it around. This should keep the fabric in place.
When rolling your weaving around the noodle or tube make sure to roll it with the backside of your weaving towards the tube. Doing this will help the weaving lay flat on the wall once installed as opposed to flaring out.
A second piece of muslin can then be wrapped around the weaving and secured with string or scrap yarn.
Tags And Storage
If you are just storing your weaving then you should create labels that are easily accessible in order to find the weaving you are looking for without having to unwrap it. This is especially useful if you have a lot of weavings in storage. I like to include the Title, Materials, and Year Finished on my tags just to keep that info handy. You could also include a small image of the weaving if that would help you out.
I use a heavy paper for the tags and punch a hole in the corner.
For shipping you can purchase a cardboard tube that is a larger diameter than the wrapped weaving. If you can’t find one then you have the option of purchasing a long box to ship it in. In this case, I usually add some extra padding via bubble wrap or tissue paper and make sure to write “FRAGILE” and “ARTWORK” on the box or tube.
Honestly, this doesn’t always seem to help – but I figure it’s worth a try. Shipping artwork is always a scary endeavor, because you never really know what your work will encounter before it gets to its intended destination.
As with most things you want to find a nice happy medium between adequate padding and low shipping weight. On the bright side weavings aren’t nearly as fragile as other forms of artwork – so you can be thankful for that.
More info on shipping your artwork in a future post!
When it comes to organization it also pays to take a little bit of time to compile a list of all of your weavings and their info in one place. I created a spreadsheet that I keep in my Google Drive so that I can access it anytime, even on my phone!
This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re ever talking to anyone about your work and you’re away from a computer – all you have to do is look at your phone to see how much you priced your weaving at!
When I first started my studio practice I didn’t have this and I would constantly be re-measuring artwork and trying to remember how many hours I spent on each piece…. etc. The spreadsheet has helped immensely whenever I apply for a show. I NEVER remember prices or sizes. Sometimes I don’t even remember the year it was finished….
I want you to be organized too, so I’ve made the same spreadsheet I use available to you!
For Your Three-Dimensional Or Mounted Weaving
There isn’t a lot that’s different about the way you store and protect your weavings that you can’t roll. The biggest difference would be that you don’t need the pool noodle or cardboard tube.
I still recommend wrapping your weaving in muslin and possibly storing it in a box to protect any bits that stick out. Boxes can be stored upright or flat at your discretion.
This box could be the same one you use for shipping and in that case I always put an image of the weaving, and all of the pertinent information that the gallery will need when it arrives. Adding a photo on the outside of the box makes it immediately recognizable to the gallery and helps them to re-match your shipping materials to the artwork if it is returned to you.
Make sure to put some crumpled tissue paper (no crazy colors) under any parts of your weaving that are three-dimensional if they need the extra support. Just don’t forget to put in your hanging instructions that this paper needs to be removed if you are sending it off to a show!
A Note On Moths
Depending on the fiber you use – you may have to consider if or how to protect your weavings from moths. Moths are attracted to protein fibers like wool and alpaca. They probably won’t bother your cottons, linens, and other cellulose yarns.
Depending on the type of materials you usually weave with – this may not be a huge consideration for you. If you are weaving with protein fibers, though, it is worth looking into.
Keeping your weavings covered with muslin helps to protect them from moths since it is made from cotton. I’m not saying this is fool proof, but it should help. You could also consider storing your weaving somewhere less likely to be bothered by any lingering moths – just in case.
Moth balls are not recommended for a few reasons – health wise and otherwise.
Nobody wants to receive or show artwork that smells like mothballs.
How do you stay organized in your studio? Let me know!
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