Thursday, March 10, 2011


My local quilt guild's show is this weekend. I am filled with anxiety. Why? Because my volunteer job is to plan and carry out the hanging of the quilts. This is the third time I've done this and don't ask why I keep re-volunteering. A perpetual problem for guild shows is the system used to hang the quilts. Years ago we made stands out of pvc pipes. They were a bit difficult to work with, they broke fairly easily so someone was always running out to Home Depot to buy new ones as we were hanging, and we had the problem of storing them for two years until the next show. As you can imagine, no one wants to store a truckload of pvc pipes in their attic or garage. We finally ended up paying someone to store them in her barn. Of course, when they were brought out for the show, they had to be washed. The hanging process would go on into the wee hours of the morning.

Then several years ago we decided to dump the pvc pipe system and rent poles and drapes from a professional pole and drape company. Except we still had to do the setup ourselves and those suckers were heavy! Too heavy for a bunch of middle aged and older women to be hauling around. And the hanging still went on into the wee hours.

Next we decided to rent a hanging system from another guild. They had wooden poles and stands and white sheets. They didn't deliver. So now the setup involved renting a truck, driving to the next county, loading up the truck, driving back, setting up the poles, then hanging the quilts. And we also had to wash all the sheets ahead of time. This was the first year I volunteered to chair this committee. I tapped into a skill from one of my former careers: working with databases. I was able to assign a location to every quilt and put that information into the database. Now I could manipulate it and print out reports. Every little hanging area got a printed page with information on what quilts were to be hung there, their exact position, and which type of hanging pole to use. Once the poles and stands were up, the hanging of the quilts went fairly quickly and we were out of there by 9pm. Of course, when the show was over, the poles, stands, and sheets had to be taken down, loaded back into the truck, and driven back to their storage locker. Costs involved the rental of the poles and the rental of the truck. We needed a fair number of husbands and sons to help with the heavy work.

The configuration of the poles and stands was confusing and weird things ended up happening:

People improvised when they couldn't figure out what to do. Some quilts had to be pinned to the sheets, which is not a very good presentation.

Something had to be done. So this year is going to be different. I contacted another pole and drape company, and it just happened to be one that has done the Mancuso shows in Philadelphia. They will bring in the system and set it up. Oh Joy! All we will have to do is hang the quilts. When the show is over, they will come back and take the poles and drapes away. More Joy! We will have hooks that go over the top poles and connect to the hanging pipes and nothing will need to be pinned to the drapes. Tomorrow is the big day. My anxiety level is pretty high mostly because this is the first time we've done this and I can easily think of a million things that can go wrong. I will be taking lots of pictures, not of quilts, but of the process. I think it will look very professional. Of course, it will cost more than the previous system, but when I think about all the labor involved and recruiting people, it's going to be worth it.


Gerrie said...

This made me giggle. I hope all goes well! What a job.

linda said...

you're a very special member of your guild! Good on you for all your research, database crunching and sharing of knowledge and talent.

tiedyejudy said...

Wow! I chaired a quilt show two years ago, but they had the process down to a science! It was at our Public Library, and the City Crew came with the right equipment to hang the quilts on lucite rods, suspended from the beams in the main room. We were done in about 4 hours... sounds like your process this year should be a lot easier! Definitely take pictures and notes.