The Guild raises its operating funds in several ways-your dues, first and foremost, but also through auctions that we hold at our annual show and sale, and occasionally at other functions throughout the year. This year we will be holding our third annual fund-raising auction at Tom Bishop’s Chicago International Show in April. The money we raise from our auctions goes directly into IGMA’s many educational and outreach programs, helping to keep the cost to program participants as low as possible. That is how Guild programs can remain so affordable and our dues at the same level they have been for many years.
The Chicago International auction offers miniaturists many ways to support IGMA, one of which does not even involve your wallet! You can, if you wish, support IGMA with the donation of a miniature, it might be something that you made, or that you have acquired at some point, perhaps something that you bought, but which never found its way into that special project. We would like to receive donated items by April 1, 2016, or you may make arrangements to deliver them in Chicago.
Items donated for the auction can be viewed in the sales room on Friday, near the IGMA and Gallery of the Guild tables. Please check out all the donations and plan to attend the auction with your friends. The auction will be held Friday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. Come, enjoy some food and the cash bar, and bid on one or more of the many special pieces that will be on the auction block. One of a kind pieces will be found and the occasional bargain, too. Even if you’re not bidding, it is truly a fun event. There is no one like our auctioneer, Duffy Wineman, to keep everyone on the edge of their seat with excitement and laughter.
Please visit the IGMA website for more information.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Colonial Williamsburg Study Program. As co-chair of the IGMA Education Committee I was there to supervise, but I abhor the possibility of wasted time, so I figured I might as well take a class while I was at it, and signed up for Peter Kendall’s structure class where we recreated, in 1/12 scale, two walls of the Governor’s Palace Study.
It was an ambitious class-and as an occasional instructor myself, I am very aware of how difficult it is to predict the length of time it will take a group of people with various skill sets to complete any specific process. We must all have been about equally skilled as at the end of our 18 hours of instruction, we all left with room boxes at approximately the same stage of completion. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was elated to have had a chance to work with power tools I don’t have at home, on processes I was familiar with, but have little chance to practice. We sawed, routed and beveled, assembled cornices from multiple moldings, mitered and installed moldings as well as flooring, aging it to resemble the original old Southern pine floors of the original structure.
Other classes traveled similar routes, from cutting and installing inlay on a bottle box and stand, to carving four matching cabriole legs for a walnut tea table. And lest you dismiss basket weaving as ‘fluff’, the students in this class worked long and hard to complete their market and painted splint baskets, challenging their full scale fingers to manipulate 1/12 scale splints in a neat and orderly fashion.
All attendees were offered the chance to take the Behind the Scenes tour of Williamsburg’s conservation facility. There they heard and saw how the experts conserve and restore Colonial Williamsburg’s many treasures. Museum passes also allowed unlimited access to the Dewitt Wallace and Rockefeller Folk Art Museums for the duration of the study program.
Social interaction was also on the schedule, with dinners both Friday and Saturday evenings and a graduation luncheon on Monday where all student projects were put on display. A thoroughly rewarding weekend, and a wonderful break in the winter routine, as many of us dream of June, and that wonderful week in Castine, which seems impossibly far away when you’ve just had 28+ inches of snow dropped on you!
Whether you sell your work at multiple shows each year, or merely enjoy the occasional sale to a friend or fellow club member, one often comes up against the question of what to charge. Do you price according to its worth for the time and materials you’ve invested, or according to what you think someone will pay? For those that are able to make a living in miniatures, they’ve found the sweet spot-they can work to a standard that satisfies them and the prices they ask are commensurate with the work involved while still remaining affordable to collectors.
My area of interest and expertise is needlework. The average person has very little idea of how much time it takes to complete even a tiny piece of needlepoint. A friend and fellow needlework artist determines her prices by calculating out how long it takes to work a square inch, assigns a value to that time, then uses those numbers to arrive at a price. She then adjusts it upward, or far more often downward, to what she feels the market will bear. If we are truly honest with ourselves, what we earn from our skill with a needle is more often in the range of babysitting wages. Are we guilty of being politically incorrect by not assigning a true value to what is often termed ‘women’s work’? Perhaps, but it often comes down to selling or not selling.
If at all possible, do some research when you are trying to price your work. Attend a show and see what artists/dealers charge for similar items; take into account the reputation of the maker and the quality of the work involved and so on. In the end, you must decide what its worth to you to let go of it, and, should the prospective buyer not agree with your valuation, are you willing to negotiate? It is my experience as a dealer, that eventually each piece finds its proper place. If its too expensive for one person, another will not feel the same way.