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.
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 https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/09/20/do-you-take-commissions/) 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.