26 May 2015

Webinar from the Education Commitee

I have heard nothing but wonderful things about a session at the recent SAQA conference in Portland, Orefon. The speaker has now agreed to share her presentation with all SAQA members through a webinar. You can attend live and/or watch it on-line when it is posted a few days later. Here is the announcement as it appeared on the Yahoo group today.

Upcoming Webinar with Maria Shell
The Art of the Word: Getting Grants and Other Art Opportunities by Crafting a Well-Written Proposal

After rave reviews at the recent SAQA conference, we asked Maria to share her presentation with the larger SAQA membership on a Mentorship Webinar. She graciously agreed. Maria’s webinar will touch on several topics including doing the work, networking, applying and following through. Take a look at Maria’s art work and read her blog to get an idea of her vision and experience. http://mariashell.com

Please click the following link to register. 

If you can not attend the live webinar, SAQA members will have access to the full audio and video recording on the SAQA website a few days after the event.

Chris Nielsen

24 May 2015

Call for Entry - Threadworks 2016 Flashback

Threadworks 2016

a Juried Exhibition of Creative Needlework - April 16 to May 29, 2016 

Threadworks’ mandate is to mount, every three years, a juried exhibition of exceptional creative needlework stitched by artists from across Canada. The show opens at the WCMA and travels to a number of museums and galleries across Ontario during the next two years.


The theme for 2016 is FLASHBACK. What does that word bring to your imagination? Just how far back does it take you? Whether it’s to your own youth, your Grandmother’s time or pre-history, anything other than this minute or tomorrow qualifies. Here are a few suggestions: Fashion, Art Deco, Architecture, Environment/Nature/Fossils, Summer Camp, Holidays, Music (e.g. song titles), War, Hippies, Home, Death, Grandma’s influence/Ancestors, Weddings, Babies. 

Entries are open to any Canadian Resident. 

Click the link for detailed info: Threadworks 2016

21 May 2015

Lesson Learnt - ReBecca Paterson, Sussex, New Brunswick

Lesson Learnt 

A few years ago while attending the NBCCD for a diploma program, I was enrolled in a course called Digital Communication. The course touched on how to deal with digital gadgets and one topic of course was the camera. 

The College has a Photography Diploma Program so there were lots of lights and backdrops our class could play with. One of the areas, a small dark room, had a variety of lights that could be manipulated as well as a large box lined with gray paper that curved from the top to the back on to the bottom. The front of the box was open and it was mainly used to photograph small objects. I brought in a few of my favorite things that I had made and proceeded to play with light. I have a lot of images from those sessions. 

The images with the needle caddy on the white silk were taken years prior to attending NBCCD. The difference in using a gray backdrop with lights and a white back drop with day light and over head ceiling light was interesting. The latter does not show the texture well. 

I like working 3D so I may invest in a box that would help with future images but I do need to work on the skill of taking good images. I wonder if the images of the cushion may be too dramatic for a juried show now that I have been looking at it with a critical eye. The close up shows great detail but I ask myself if is there too much contrast in the shadows? 

The photo Session at the retreat reminded me of some of the things I had forgotten and I have gone in search of my notes (I found them).

18 May 2015

Shipping advice

One of the topics that always comes up when we discuss entering non-Canadian shows concerns the mechanics and cost of shipping. I recently consulted several Canadian artists whose work often appears in international exhibitions about how they ship their artwork. These artists have achieved recognition and increased sales through the exposure they have received in SAQA and other shows. Everyone provided detailed and encouraging responses to my questions. Here's a quote from Pamela Allen, one of Canada's most successful art quilters. "You must tell your members that it is easy peasy to ship work to shows if you know the protocol." And Mary Pal offered "I have shipped quilts to the USA, England, Taiwan and New Zealand without any difficulty. Haven't lost one or had one damaged yet."

I have summarized their comments below.


It goes without saying that you should do a thorough and professional job of packing your artwork. To minimize wrinkling, consider wrapping your quilt around tissue paper or a muslin covered pool noodle. Create a muslin bag which can hold and protect your quilt when it is being moved and handled. Make sure that the bag and all of your packing materials are clearly marked with your name and the title of the piece. Secure the muslin wrapped quilt in a plastic bag which you can seal against moisture intrusion. Then pack that into a sturdy cardboard box which also contains sufficient 'stuffing' to reduce movement inside the box when it is handled. Mary Pal uses 48x6x6" boxes which she purchases from http://www.uline.ca/. She cuts them down to the proper length since each inch/cm of box dimension adds to the cost of shipping.

Shipping methods

My respondents use Canada Post when they can because it is the least expensive option. Mary Pal has applied for and received a Canada Post Venture One card which saves her even more. Pamela Allen recommends that people use the online "ship and click" service. You'll get the info printed out on an official label and won't have to wait at the post office. Canada Post also offers the advantage that parcels are cleared through customs in the destination country without going through a broker. You can arrange for tracking and insurance, although the tracking goes dark while the item is in Customs.

If you must use a courier, Elaine Quehl has found that in her part of the country (Ontario) UPS is a less expensive option than FedEx.

Declared value

One of the important issues concerns the value you place on your package when it is shipped. I am quoting some different responses below.

Elaine Quehl says: When I ship I list the value of my package at less than $50. In fact, I usually list it at $40.00 to be safe. This ensures that no brokerage fees are levied to get my work into the US. Also, it avoids the package being held up at customs.  

Pamela Allen: I put only 50-90 dollars as value.

Mary Pal: I declare the value at $99. 


For how much and how should you insure your quilt?

Elaine Quehl: Of course when I list the value so low, I cannot turn around and insure the package for a higher rate. If people want their work insured while in transit they need to have their own insurance policy for their quilts that includes exhibitions. I will confess I have no insurance policy and take a lot of risks. I've been doing it this way for a very long time without incident (touch wood). I am willing to take a few risks to have a career and avoid having to go and find a conventional 9-5 day job ;-).

And Mary Pal's approach: I always under-insure because I think it would be a nightmare trying to collect on the insurance and because I made it once and could make it again if it mattered that much to me.  

Pamela Allen: I don't bother insuring. Couriers give only the value of materials if lost and the post office needs an appraisal to give anywhere near the true value. I am fatalist about it. If it gets lost, I can make another one. After 12 years NO problems so far.

What to write on the label

You will note that there is some variation and disagreement on this point. But each of these people has experienced success using their method.

One person told me:

I say wall hanging instead of "artwork" or "quilt" so as not to catch the attention of would-be thieves.
Here's another viewpoint: 
Also, you need to make clear on customs forms that the work is not for sale.  This is what I write. 
"One of a kind textile art work, for exhibition purposes only, to be returned at end of show".
 I declare auction donations as 'gift', and show entries as 'art for exhibition and return'. 

And another:
First of all I NEVER refer to my work as anything other than ART. Thus the declaration on the shipping form: 
" Art for exhibition and return. NO commercial value. Made in Canada by sender."

Additional documentation

From Pamela Allen: As a further expedient I always send the package with a PRO FORMA document. It is for customs and has the same declaration on it. For some reason they want 4 copies. I oblige and put it in a separate plastic sleeve on the outside of the package. People can get it online on several sites.

Pamela sent along a copy of the pro forma invoice that she uses. I have put a copy at the end of this text.

Return arrangements

Work you have sent to exhibitions outside Canada will eventually be returned to you. You should take as many precautions as you can to ensure that it is shipped with the appropriate value and documentation. This will increase the chances that your work will not be charged duty and taxes when it re-enters Canada. To improve your chances you should ask that the parcel be returned to you through the postal system.

Elaine Quehl: It is important to advise the show you are shipping to that they need to use the low value on your package when they return your work so you don't get charged a brokerage fee. I'm pretty sure SAQA knows this. 

Pamela Allen prepares an insert which accompanies the quilt:

Which brings me to my final "insurance"  When I send a quilt to a show...that will be returned...I have made up a little insert for the committee with instructions on how to send it back to avoid brokerage fees and customs hassles.  Here's an example. I put it IN the box so the quilt angels will see it. Mostly they do. Sometimes they don't....

Insert used by Pamela Allen (used with permission)

You'll note that she includes an image of the accompanying artwork. I would probably throw in several of them, might reproduce it on the muslin covering and would also tape one to the inside top flap of the original shipping box.

If, in spite of your best efforts, your package does get charged duty and taxes you can recoup them. Go here http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/courier/crp-prio-eng.html. In the upper right box click for the form B2G.

Sometimes it works another way:

Mary Pal: Many galleries in the US (not SAQA) demand a completed Fedex or UPS form for returning quilts and that is just not an option for us in Canada. To those venues I send my Visa number and their staff have to complete the Fedex form. 


I hope this information helps you to make the decision to enter shows outside of Canada. It is clearly feasible when you adhere to some basic guidelines and assumptions. You may still experience some sticker shock but it is a small price to pay for the experience and exposure.

Chris Nielsen

17 May 2015

New details on Diaspora

This information was distributed on the SAQA Yahoo group this morning.

The exhibition STORIES OF MIGRATION: CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS INTERPRET DIASPORA will now be accepting COLLABORATIVE work!  This concept has been encouraged and approved by the curators at The Textile Museum, and logistics have been worked out by SAQA’s Exhibition Committee and computer specialists.

So if you were thinking about working in collaboration with another SAQA artist, this is a perfect opportunity to merge your talents! 

Diaspora is breaking all the rules: 3-D work  acceptable, no size restrictions, no down travel time, and now, collaboration.  What exciting possibilities exist for this exhibition at one of the world’s most prestigious venues!

Details regarding entry will be added to the online prospectus soon but if there are any questions please contact Patty Kennedy-Zafred pattykz@aol.com.

14 May 2015

Exhibiting Work - Kate Madeloso, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
By Kate Madeloso, April 2015

I have a number of criteria for exhibiting my work.
1.Deadline. Can I meet the dates required to send in the entry form and photos? Entries fees are sometimes refunded (depending on the show) if you are not chosen to show by the juror. Most often you lose your entry fee if not chosen. NB: For most shows now, photos are acceptable with entry instead of actually sending in your piece.

2.Venue. I check out the venue(s) to see if I would want to exhibit there, and if so, would it be a good fit for my work? i.e. a gallery vs. a church?

3.Theme or not. Can I meet their theme, if there is one, and their criteria, i.e size restriction, 2 or 3 dimensional pieces accepted? If they are accepting 3D pieces I assume the show will be more interesting and gain a wider viewing audience.

4.The Juror. Who is selecting the work? Who is the curator and who is the juror? Sometimes I look at the juror’s work and read about their esthetic to determine if my work might resonate with them. That might even influence the direction I take with my piece. Or not. But I do investigate it.

5.Shipping. I intended to send a piece off to the States about 8 years ago but the red tape, insurance, cost of shipping etc was so overwhelming that I just let it go.  So I chose to show in Canada only. Our SAQA regional rep is working really hard to find a smoother process for us to easily ship our work down to shows in the States so stayed tuned! If you decide to enter any show do your shipping homework.

6.How often – I look for 3 to 4 shows to enter a year. In Canada that is hard. The main shows are:
A.     CQA National Juried Show (NJS). You have to be a member of the Canadian Quilters Association to enter. The main show is every two years with a smaller one the other year. I work well to deadlines and entering shows keeps me motivated.  Previously: CQA NJS – held in even numbered years and called Quilt Canada. The odd numbered years the name of the province in the title, i.e. Quilt Alberta. That has changed this year, Quilt Canada 2015, Lethbridge. – Lots of categories and prize money. 100 – 200 entries. First show was in 1983.  http://njs.canadianquilter.com/
B.     The Grand National, started in 2003, every year except no show in 2012. Usually at the Joseph Schneider Haus Historic Site in Kitchener ON. 2015 May 10 to Sept 27th .    Smaller show with 40 to 60 entries. No categories but do have cash prize awards. http://www.grandnationalquiltshow.ca/
C. NS Fiber Arts Festival 8th Annual, October 13th -17th 2015 – claiming to be Canada’s Largest Fibre Arts Festival - creative workshops, exhibits, hands-on demonstrations, regions most beautiful fibre work.
·  Proposals for Independent Projects: The Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival invites artists to organize and curate their own exhibitions. Could be a SAQA Atlantic show.
·  Artwork and Interior Gallery Installations: call to all fibre artists for submissions of their work—rug hooking, quilting, felting, knitting, crochet, needle and handwork (to name only a few) to be displayed at various location during the week of the Festival. Individual entries.
Deadline for all submissions was March 15th 2015.
D. Threadworks 2016 is a special project of the Ontario Network of Needleworkers'(ONN) 1,000+ members. It showcases exceptional and creative needlework by artists from across Canada. Threadworks is a juried exhibition that is mounted every three years and travels across Ontario to many museums and galleries. http://www.onnguilds.ca/threadworks/threadworks.html
E. World of Threads Festival 20th anniversary, Oakville, ON Nov 2014– no categories, no prize awards. Over 200 entries from around the world.
-   An international showcase of contemporary fiber and textile art.
-   Not-for-profit initiative with charitable status.
-   They exhibit innovative fibre based art from around the world and highlights the strength of local talent.
-   The Festival is run by dedicated volunteers Dawne Rudman (Chair & Festival Curator) and Gareth Bate ((Festival Curator). Exhibitions are carefully planned by various curators.

     Beginning in 1994 as a single Oakville exhibition, the festival continues to grow in size and ambition. The exhibitions feature work submitted by hundreds of artists from around the world. Huge range of textile work, lots of very large pieces. A must see at least once in your life. http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/exhibitions_menu.html

11 May 2015

The Grand National Quilt Show Awards Winners

Congratulations to Kate Madeloso and Lois Wilby Hooper, who received Awards of Merit  in the 2015 Grand National Quilt Show in Kitchener, Ontario.

To see their pieces and a complete list of the winners, go to Connections Awards Winners

06 May 2015

My Favorite Tool - Anne Morrell Robinson, Margaree Valley, Nova Scotia

My favourite tool is my white wall. I would be lost without being able to lay out my designs as I get them sewn.

The cutting table is on wheels so it can be rolled out of the way and the white wall becomes the backdrop for photographing work. Hidden behind it is tons of room for fabric  storage. 

It is made of soft board over lightweight plywood and covered with cotton batting . Small pieces will stick to the batting and larger heavier quilts can be pinned. 

It is hinged in the middle with piano hinges so there can still be access to the fabric storage while something is hanging . 

01 May 2015

Favorite Tool - Linda Finley, Halifax, Nova Scotia

I realized that this unsophisticated material, drawer liner/carpet underlay and numerous other official titles, is my favourite tool. 
I use it in many sizes (cuts to any shape or size of course) on my drawing table which is usually sloped at a variety of angles depending upon the day to keep reference materials (ipad, books, etc.), scissors, chalk, pencils, boxes, and so on from sliding into my drawing space. 
I put larger pieces under my cutting mat to keep it in place and the same for my sewing machine and foot pedal. Tiny bits sit inside a thimble to help it stay on when my hands are cool and it would otherwise sail off; my finger size fluctuates dramatically I find, even from hour to hour. It also provides great grip to encourage reluctant needles through a quilt. 
I have also used it to provide a temporary gripped surface for snap frames and always as a grip for tightening the outer pieces on properly wrapped frames. The outer pieces are slippery and it is frequently difficult to get enough twist to tighten them adequately with bare hands.
   You get the picture ... So many uses, limited only by your imagination.