Prints of textiles?

Prints of textiles?

Summer is a busy time for me for sales, exhibitions and other, non-fibre related things, so when I looked back at the actual felt-making I’ve done since my last blog here in June, I realised the answer was ‘none’! Oh dear, this could be a very short blog. One thing I have wrestled with for some time, though, is whether to sell photographic prints of my felt pictures.

I have slightly (OK, very) purist tendencies when it comes to felting and I’ve previously resisted the idea. Textiles are 3D and photographs are essentially 2D. I do sell photographs, but of my beautiful local area. I’ve always made an exception for greetings cards, and the number of people who’ve bought cards with photos of my felt pictures and told me they’re going to put them in a frame has finally worn the purist down.

I had an exhibition in a local gallery called ‘The Fishslab’ in early August. It’s a lovely gallery and, as the name suggests, used to be a fishmongers. It has a huge sloped marble slab in the window that was used to display and sell the fish while the marble kept it cool. The front window lifted up so customers could see the fish from the street and, presumably, buy them through the window. Here’s a photo standing outside the gallery from a previous exhibition where you can see the marble slab that is the base of the window display and the handles on the window.

So, I ordered 12 small prints of felted pictures I’ve previously sold, printed on foam board, and included them in my week in the gallery. The prints are 20 x 20 cm.

20 x 20 cm photos of felt pictures on foam board

Priced at £20, I sold 9 of the 12 in the week, so I had to conclude there’s an appetite for these. About the same time, the print company I use for my photos had a super-special offer on 60 x 60 cm photo canvas prints, so I ordered 5 of those featuring felt pictures as well.

I’ve just spent a week in the beach hut gallery I sometimes have my work in. So, I displayed the canvases, along with my felt pictures and photo canvases.

It was a quiet week and although there was a bit of interest, I didn’t sell any. One thing I did notice, though, was that people kept touching the canvases to see if they had a texture. Annoying, but interesting. Happily, I took a commission for a felt picture (I’ve blogged previously on my mixed feelings about this too, you can see the link here, if interested so I didn’t mind the otherwise low sales but I’m still left feeing a bit uncomfortable about printing photos of textiles. I will see what happens in future sales / exhibitions.

I’ll finish now with another of the many things I’ve been doing recently other than making felt. As I’ve mentioned more than once before, I am lucky enough to live in Whitstable, on the coast in south-east England. It’s a beautiful place and we get a lot of visitors on day-trips as well as longer vacations. There’s a Thames sailing barge called The Greta that in summer moors in the harbour where I often work. Built in 1892, she used to carry grain, malt and building products, and then beer, up the Thames estuary into London. She also took part in one of the most famous operations during World War 2 as a member of the makeshift flotilla that rescued thousands of troops during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. Apparently, she’s the oldest active ‘little ship’ from that era. Anyway, some of my harbour colleagues go on an annual trip on the Greta to visit another World War 2 site, the Maunsell Forts, which are about 6 miles out to sea. These were part of a world war 2 sea-defence system designed to shoot down enemy aircraft that would fly up the Thames estuary from the coast to bomb London during the war. They were later used as a base for pirate radio stations broadcasting in the 1960s. Previously I’ve refused offers to join my friends on this trip as I’m a terrible sailor and believe I could feel nauseous in the bath. This year my desire to do the trip overcame my reservations and we set out on the calmest, most lovely day.

It was a fabulous day and I will definitely do the trip again. The final picture here shows the harbour village where I sell my work. I’ve never seen it from this angle before.

15 thoughts on “Prints of textiles?

  1. The Fishslab’s sloping marble slab makes for an effective display of your work (there are pieces there we haven’t seen before – love the seashore bowl in the centre).

    What a lovely boat trip – thank you for sharing those photos and interesting facts about Whitstable. Your beach hut looks so inviting.

    The prints are wonderful! If people want to touch your prints then you’ve obviously got very good photos. Good luck with sales. It’s very hard to make anywhere near a living from artwork so you should monetise your work in any way you can.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. Apologies – I wasn’t clear that the photo of the window was from an exhibition I did with 2 of my friends (week do ceramics & fused glass). The bowl is ceramic and was made by friend Sue Moreton. It was gorgeous.

      I’m sure you’re right about monetising what you can. It will be interesting to see if people want the bigger pictures. I will certainly order some more of the small ones.

  2. Lovely stuff Lindsay. I particularly like that large picture hanging in the Fishlab gallery of the fort(?) in the middle of just sea. Is it a photograph or felted? I’m assuming felted since there’s another version of it amongst the smaller prints later on. I think it’s fantastic.
    At least the “gerfingerpoken” on the prints keeps your actual felt clean!
    Your printed pot covers are fantastic too, I’m sure they are worth all the time and money you have spent learning how to do it.
    Perhaps you can show us some of your other work that we haven’t seen yet in another post?
    I have often wondered about selling cards and prints of my felt pictures but I’m never sure how to take the photograph to make into the print. I know that if I take a closeup my photos show up the hairiness of the felt so I’m not sure whether a print would look good. Can you tell us who does your printing so that I can perhaps see if there’s any point in my trying. If I can sell prints it would at least remove my ambivalence about selling my pictures. I really hate it on the (very rare) occasions I have to hand them over.

  3. Many thanks for your comments, Ann. The big picture you mentioned is a photograph of the end of the old pier in Herne Bay which, as you probably know, is just along the coast from here. It was the second longest pier in the country: 3/4 of a mile out. It caught fire in 1970 and the rest of it was destroyed in a storm later in the 70s. It was a very misty, grey day when I took the photo where I couldn’t really tell where the sea stopped and the sky began. I like the way the wind turbines are lurking behind it.

    I upload my photos online, they are printed on canvas and posted back to me. There are quite a lot of companies that do this and you can see a preview of the photo before you have it printed. I think with felt, getting the right light for photos is the key. When I want to photograph a felt piece I move it around the house or studio and try it in different locations to get the best colour match. The desk in my studio, bedroom floor and living room coffee table generally work well: bright but out of direct sunlight. I think Lyn wrote a blog about photographing felt. I’ll see if I can find it.

    1. I couldn’t find a blog but there is a thread on the Forum on the General Discussion board called photographing felt which is mostly a discussion about light boxes.

  4. Thanks Lindsay I’ll have a look.
    Now that you mention the wind turbines I can see them, but I didn’t before. It would make a fantastic felt picture – as would the forts, which actually look like something from Star Wars!

  5. I’m glad you’re giving prints a chance, Lindsay. You never know who might love your work so much that they won’t mind not having the 3D texture… also, it’s often a gateway for someone to start saving up for the real felted work because they just can’t *not* have it in their lives 🙂

    Your trip looked lovely, and as Ann pointed out, those structures really do look like the model AT-AT from Star Wars. They must look even more amazing in person!

    1. Thanks Leonor. Yes, the forts are quite surreal and very imposing even on a calm sunny day. They must be even more so when it’s grey and misty.

      I will see how the prints go. Thanks for the encouragement

  6. Great post Lindsay, it’s good to hear about your thoughts on printed replications as opposed to “real” artwork. I think that prints are a good entry level point for many people to buy artwork. And I agree with Lyn that you have great photos if people want to touch them. Your trip looks very interesting and I love the view of your beach huts.

    1. Many thanks Ruth. We’ll see whether the prints of felt take off or not but for sure lots of people wanted to touch them. I’m looking forward to getting back into the studio to make some actual felt though. That won’t be for a month or so but in the meantime I expect some of the fort prints will probably make it into my repertoire of photos of local scenes. They are quite remarkable.

  7. I enjoyed your post Lindsay. I do like prints, and they are an affordable way for many to buy something lovely, especially from an artist that they have seen in their shop.

  8. Hiya Lindsay, you’ve certainly started a good discussion about prints (ideal for derfingerpokin) v actual felt pictures.

    I know you are a purist, but even the masters have had their work put into print allowing for a wider audience to appreciate their work.

    Seeing any artwork (sculpture, even paintings and drawings) in its original state is eye opening in terms of texture & fine detail. Those of us who want to be 6 inches from it inspecting every last nook and cranny are relatively few (and probably have a textile/texture interest), most audiences just appreciate the overall colour and composition & maybe just marvel at the fact that it is produced (in your case) from wool.

    Thankfully modern photography and printing allows for ‘texture’ to be more obvious and you have control of all aspects of your prints. So selling a print is still your work and perhaps a bonus in today’s economic climate.

    Your 20x20cm prints look wonderful….have you cropped them to just the bird? I thought I remembered them as having a little more background. Also it looks like they may have a ‘black’ foam core….inspired.

    I’m glad you overcame your anti-wave motion and had a brilliant (to be repeated) day out….you deserve it. I saw the Maunsell forts and they stirred some strange memories….Ann nailed it….Star Wars!

    An interesting view of the harbour village too.
    Hope you get back to felting soon X

  9. If you can manage to have great photos of your work taken, there is no reason why you cannot use them to make greeting cards or post cards from them. I know of other artists, not just fiber artists, who do this and it is a nice way to get some extra money coming in, especially if the original has been sold.

  10. I’m glad someone had the foresight not to remove the marble slab in the window of the Fishlab Lindsay, I think it is a unique and rather attractive way to display all those beautiful art pieces. I am also delighted that you have decided to have prints made of your fabulous work. It is giving so many more people the opportunity to own and appreciate your art and the fact that customers wanted to reach out and touch it is testimony to the quality of the print work and the beauty of its creation.

    I’m very surprised that the Maunsell Forts have not yet been used as a film set – your comment about the pirate radio stations has sparked my imagination – a long way to head to work everyday but wow, I bet the view from the office on a fine day could not have been beaten.

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