I'm excited because my first solo exhibition is next week! "Jessica Skultety: My Quilty Habit" will feature 20 of my original quilts (some modern, some modern traditional, some questionable? Who needs labels?) and lots of dense free motion and walking foot quilting. If you're available and local, it's March 2-5 at the Mancuso show, Quilt and Sewing Fest of New Jersey. I'll be there Friday afternoon after my class and all weekend, so please come say hi!
How does one have the opportunity for a solo quilt show? You could get asked, but the most direct way is to apply. Lots of quilt shows have this option on their websites. You could also have a show at a local shop, museum, etc. Inquire! Keep in mind you'll probably have to attach good-quality photos of your work to your application, plus information
Determining a theme. When the staff at Mancuso presented the idea of a one-woman show, I decided on machine quilting ("My Quilty Habit") - not just because that name defines me everywhere on the internet, but because quilting is my favorite part of the process. I also do all of my quilting on my home machine; compared to many traditional show quilts, mine are not longarmed and are made by me 100%. Note: if you're putting together a solo show, just having your quilts together might be enough of a theme.
For my theme, I wrote this description:
Do you love bright, bold, and uniquely quilted quilts? If so, you’re coming to the right place! Jessica Skultety, a 27-year-old New Jersey quilter, teacher, lecturer, and writer, is a serial maker of improvisational and modern quilts. A self-taught quilter (thanks, Google!), she started quilting all of her work on a domestic machine and fell head over heels in love with creating "perfectly imperfect" stitches. Her current passions are creating wholecloth word quilts and dreaming up new ways to modernize traditional blocks. In addition to this special exhibit, Jessica will be teaching two classes centered around modernizing traditional blocks and improvisational techniques.
Crown of Orchids, which is better seen in person, will be at the show!
What do you need for a solo exhibition? Most importantly, you need to have a significant amount of your work completed and in your own hands. Quilters in particular are infamous for gifting or giving their work away. Think about projects you might have made for family members, guild challenges, and the like. Perhaps you can finish up a couple more projects before you apply for an exhibit or before it opens. I did! - I'll be premiering the "Today I Feel" quilt (which is definitely better seen in person - it's so difficult to take photos of) and "Fall Spectrum" quilt.
- Sew quilt sleeves on each piece. My show contains 20 original quilts, some of which (luckily) already had sleeves from other quilt shows. For the rest, I got to work back in November and I've been hand sewing like the wind (which resulted in tips for sewing on quilt sleeves. My pain is your gain!).
- Sew labels on each quilt. If you've slacked on labeling your quilts like me over the past couple years, check out the Quilt Alliance labeling pledge. Perhaps it will kick your butt into gear like it did for me.
- Doctor each piece. As in: clip all stray threads and lint roll. This can take ages. I'm no perfectionist, but whenever one of my quilts is going to hang in a show, I make them look as good as possible.
- Write, proofread, and print descriptions. For our past guild quilt exhibits, we printed directly onto cardstock. I decided to save a trip to the printer and printed all 20 sheets at home. Then, I glued them onto colored cardstock for a little pop of color. Hopefully they will look just as professional.
- Determine prices. If you're selling your work, add contact information (email address) to your descriptions. Some of my quilts are indeed for sale, and while I can't reveal prices through the show itself, I was instructed to direct people to email me. If I receive email, I'll know what to answer with.
- Determine an order for hanging your quilts. Shows and spaces have different capabilities. For example, this show has poles that extend to 10 feet, and I'll have a certain amount of poles to hang my show. So, I have to figure out where each quilt will fit and what order I want them to be seen. It's enough to boggle your mind, but in the end it will be worth it!
Fractured Cathedral Window will be there, too!
What to anticipate close to show day:
- Pack your quilts in order and go hang them up. You'll probably need at least 2 people if you have large quilts. Since my exhibit is part of a larger show, the friendly staff will be available to help me the day before the show opens.
- Tell everyone about it and invite them! My friends and family have told me what days they are coming to visit (because you can bet I'll be there), and we are planning meals together. It's a really fun and exciting way to share your work with the world. I also let you and my newsletter subscribers know, because this is probably my biggest 2017 event.
- Take pictures! You know I'll be sharing! During the event I won't have time to blog, but I'll be over on Instagram (@quiltyhabit).
- All By Myself: Tips for Mounting a Solo Exhibit by Deborah Boschert (must be a Craft Industry Alliance member to read
- Check out the first video - this is a recent exhibit by Luke Haynes (I think you have to be logged into Facebook to watch).
- Behind the Scenes at a Quilt Museum by Linzee McCray