Art Shows - Our Packing Strategy

We are packing for our first Outdoor Show of 2019 and we realized this will be our fifth Outdoor Art Show season. Wow!!!

Hopefully this brief Blog about Our Packing Strategy will be helpful to another Artist or simply entertaining for those who know and follow us. We learn from watching other Artist set up and have borrowed many of their ideas or practices. Maybe someone will find our process helpful is some way.

Our packing process has evolved so much and we laugh about those chaotic first few outdoor show setups! When we started, we struggled with packaging and protecting our product during transport. We grouped like sizes together in boxes until we got the tent up and then we made a game time decision on what to display. Yes, it was stressful and time consuming. Making the display decisions at the end of a long day was not a good idea.

Digressing for a moment….. Our first outdoor show was Flowertown in Summerville, SC. We travelled in a Yukon and an S10 pickup truck. Our little caravan looked like the Beverly Hillbillies moving to California. We have improved with custom bins replacing boxes and our large transport cart has saved many steps.

Now to the present…. We actually plan our tent display prior to setup. We print a scale template of our tent walls and we plan the display on paper. This has been a huge time saver, stress buster and argument avoider.

Yep, we’ve had a few healthy discussions about what to display…. This is what our hand written plan looks like :

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Once the tent is up, we don’t have to think about what we are going to display, simply hang per the template.

Introducing the “Super Bin” for the 2019 season. Our next improvement is to have all of the product that we’ve selected to display in one bin. So we built a “Super Bin” this weekend and loaded it today. Our hypothesis is with one bin instead of multiple bins, we will eliminate trips to the trailer and reduce our setup time. It looks promising, but only time will tell how this will work out!

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We are ready to pack the trailer ……optimistic for “Super-Bin” and the start of our season!

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Studio Creativity - Welcome to Charleston

Nothing says Charleston like Sweetgrass Baskets and the Pineapple Fountain! I wonder how we could combine these two satin images? Maybe a picture inside a picture would work…… Lets try a 16” x 16” inside a 24” x 24” and see what happens.

What do you think of the prototype we made this morning? I think we will name it Welcome to Charleston.

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Below are some images of the work in process. Already thinking about different ways to do this!

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March 8th Update:

The creativity continues …..We planned to put a black floating frame on this piece, finally made the time to finish it today. This will be our one of a kind - feature piece for Flowertown the first weekend of April in Summerville. Special Thanks to TC Bowers at Palmetto Fine Arts in Chapin for turning us onto the floating frames! We hope our customers like them as well as we do!

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Art Shows - Load In/Out Carts

We are preparing for our first outdoor show of the year and storing our indoor setup. Loading in and loading out of shows is the most unglamorous and stressful part of Art Shows. We are always looking for ways to improve our process (kaizen for my manufacturing friends)!

So while storing our indoor setup - Pro Panels, it hit me hard ….. Why do we store our Pro Panels on our best and most versatile cart - and it sits in storage for 9 months? We always need an additional cart for outdoor shows. So today’s kaizen was to build a storage cart and free up our Pro Panel cart. I still can’t believe that we didn’t think of this sooner.

In the spirit of kaizen - low cost solutions - we used casters from a previous project, ripped 2x4’s in half, purchased a 2x6 and lag bolts. Only spent about $30 by using resources in the garage. Just for reference; at SnapLoc.com the carts sells for $270 - $350 depending on how its configured. Pricey but really good for loading in/out at shows!

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Now, we have an idea for a “Super-Bin” to store the product that will be displayed in our tent - outdoor setup. Looks like more kaizen this weekend.

Chasing Rosy - Part 2

Our field trips chasing Roseate Spoonbills are turning into scenes from the 2009 movie, Up. You remember, Carl the 78 year old balloon salesman and his young friend Russell are chasing Kevin the exotic bird. They are always close to Kevin but never quite in position to “catch” him. Fortunately, there is a good ending to the movie and we are hoping for the same.

This week we travelled to Bear Island WMA to photograph a close up of Rosy. As we approached, we noticed smoke over Bear Island and my first thought was …… controlled burning, but not today!

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As we explored, the wading birds were no where to be found. Discouraged, we pretty much decided that the birds must have fled the property and began thinking about how to use our time. We decided to travel to Donnelley WMA which is only a few miles away. On our way out, in the distance, we saw a great white heron flying down to one of the back ponds. On a chance, we decided to drive down the dikes towards the heron’s flight. Surprise! The rice pond had been partially drained, and all the wading birds were present! Ibises, Herons and Spoonbills (even blackbirds)!

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Of course, they are just out of range for the close up picture. So, we positioned ourselves like hunters and waited………. You probably can guess that we waited for a long time but the close up opportunity did not materialize.

As the light was dissipating, we walked back down the dike towards the sunset and the smoke from the controlled burning. Arriving at a main dyke separating the ponds, we spot a single Roseate Spoonbill feeding. We crept down the dyke and suddenly other spoonbills flew in to feed, just in range. We franticly took shots in the dissipating light.

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It was a gift to get some good shots and we will be printing some of them on satin fabric. The chase is not over! Can we photograph Rosy nesting? I wonder where the next Chasing Rosy field trip will lead us?

Chasing Rosy (Roseate Spoonbill) - Part 1

At Trotter Arts, we are not very knowledgeable birders, but we’re on a mission for 2019…. to find Rosy (Roseate Spoonbill)!

Our Lowcountry field trips have taken us to some unique and beautiful places with wonderful wildlife. We have seen Rosy and learned about her, but have not gotten her glamour shot, yet! Photographing landscape is one thing but photographing wildlife is an entirely different thing!

A few tidbits about Rosy. She is a wading bird and shallow water feeder found near fresh or coastal waters. She feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and small fish. She feeds head down, spoonbill in the water, moving the spoonbill back and forth thru the shallow water. She resided in South America, the Gulf Coast and as far north as Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina. The plume hunters almost drove the Roseate Spoonbill to extinction in the 1860’s. Thankfully these pink beauties have slowly rebounded and we can enjoy this interesting bird

Recently, we took a brief Field Trip to Donnelley WMA and Bear Island WMA. Below is a small gallery of photo’s from the field trip. Hope you enjoy them and remember, watch your step in the marsh! We will keep you posted as we chase Rosy!

Trotter Arts Studio - 2019 Prototypes

The start of the new year is always time for reflection about your product offering and the plans for the coming shows. Due to a specific need, we decided to experiment with framed 12”X12”. After some research, we selected a floating frame and four files as our prototypes. Many times we are asked; “How do you stretch satin fabric?”. So, we decided to document the basic process of creating our four prototypes. Hope you enjoy a few minutes in our studio! We think that this idea might just fly! We would love to hear your feedback!

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Basic Steps:

After building stretcher frames and gluing foamboard, the foamboard is trimmed. A sharp blade is required.

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Centers

Finding the centers is very important in stretching, so the image ends up where you want it!

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Alignment Marks:

Marking the centers on the stretcher frame for alignment is a critical step.

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Align & Staple

Align fabric to desired center marks on the stretcher frame. Flip and staple one staple in the middle of the stretcher.

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Oh those corners….

After stapling across the frame, stop at the corner and turn the fabric like wrapping paper on a gift.

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Hold Tight

Hold the excess fabric on the corner tight and finish stapling to the corner.

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Finish stapling all sides, flip over and inspect. If there is an occasional problem, un-staple the fabric and re-stretch. After trimming, re-stretching is much more difficult.

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Trim Fabric

Trim the excess fabric. We use a rotary fabric blade and trim just past the staples.

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Select the hardware to attach to the frame. Plan the locations for attachments.

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Drill pilots

Drill pilot holes, be careful not to drill too deep (don’t ask me how I know this!) . Attach hardware with framing screws.

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Attach a wire or other hanging hardware.

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Chronicling the birth of the first Triptych in 2019

Trotter Arts first show for 2019 is in Greenville, SC. We always try to create at least one new piece for each show. This process keeps new art flowing and gives us a new piece to showcase. So, here is a chronicle of how our first triptych of 2019 happened. It’s never as easy as you think it should be!

Step One: The Field Trip

We took three field trips to the Upstate to photograph waterfalls and Fall colors with mixed results. The usual photographers challenges, rain, cloud cover, poor lighting and access. Then on November 10th we drove to Table Rock State Park in search of “The Shot”. It was a beautiful Carolina Blue Sky day and we hiked the Park for hours, enjoying a grand day and taking tons of pictures with the idea of a triptych of Table Rock as the final product.

Step Two: Downloading - Sorting Images - Selecting an Image

This part of the process is always a bit like watching your Family opening gifts that you give them. You’re excited to see the gift opened and you hope it is “The One”. You’re just never sure of what images you have until you open the files. Then the sorting begins and eventually some sort of concurrence is obtained. Can you believe that we may have differences of opinion? Below is the shot we selected:

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Step Three: The edit, sizing and printing

In this case, sizing was pre-determined to be a standard size Triptych (37x20 - 3 panels) which is our Large show size. The standardization helps us with storage and transporting our product. We ran thru our normal Photo Shop edits, prepared a layout and print.

Step Four: The Stretching - “The Mistake” - The Recovery

After receiving our printed satin, we custom make our stretcher bars using a chop saw and v-nailer. Then we mount foam board on the stretcher bars and lastly the magic stretching happens. In this case we stretch the three frames independently, making sure that the alignment frame to frame was perfect! After stretching the third frame, we immediately noticed “The Mistake”.

In our excitement for the reflections in the photograph and our desire to have a standard size, we violated a basic photographic concept! Avoid placing the horizon in the center of the canvas….. In this case the horizon is the lake edge. The second problem is the blue sky reflection was over powering the grandeur of Table Rock! As a side note the blue sky without clouds is beautiful, but presents a challenge when printing on satin. Ok, enough gravelling…… what are we going to do to recover? Reduce the height of the piece and definitely mount this triptych on a frame. Below is the result - Still in the studio - Birth of a new triptych!

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Step Five: Take it to the Show

We will take this new creation to the Greenville Remodeling Expo at the Greenville Convention Center (formerly the TD Convention Center) Jan 11,12,13. Hoping for positive feedback and a buyer!