museum work

blog touring some more

Kathleen Ernst, who writes historical fiction (including some of the American Girl books) and who used to do living history performances for a living, is hosting me on her blog:

This one’s about the Job Carr Cabin Museum and quilting in public [g].

Categories: history, museum work, museums, quilting, volunteering | Leave a comment

and the new exhibit opens!

The introductory panel The first large panel and one of the timelines.
I designed and created all of the graphics myself this time.
No one had kept a yard sign stowed away for seventeen years
(the election was in 1995), so I created one.
Another large vinyl panel with wood in the background.
The water tower photo is one I took.
The first display case. I had very few artifacts to work with.
These are documents used during the cityhood campaign.

The large panel is an artifact.
The smaller text panels are quotations from the interviews I did
with the people who were involved in the cityhood campaign.

The second exhibit case, which is a bit more interesting,
with a couple of T-shirts and campaign buttons,
and the insert about the celebration that was
in the local paper,and a copy of the voter’s pamphlet.

The third vinyl panel, and one of the six timelines.
The timelines were designed with Lakewood symbolism
in mind — water and bark and acorns — and the
city colors as a stripe down the middle.

 The only photos I had to work with
were of the cityhood celebration, and so
were heavily weighted towards the end of the exhibit.

 The exhibit was controversial enough that I had a very
difficult time finding people who were both anti-incorporation
and willing to be interviewed (one fellow even hung up
on me). So presenting an unbiased viewpoint was almost
impossible. This was our compromise, which hangs above a
corkboard with a supply of pushpins and index cards.
You can see the bark I used as a background for some
of the text panels more clearly here, too.

I wish I could show you more of what the exhibit was actually about, but the size of the photos makes that very difficult.

I have to say that this was my very first attempt at designing graphics from scratch (the museum used a graphic designer for the first exhibit), and I’m pretty proud of them. I used InDesign, mostly, but the introductory panel was adapted from the one for the first exhibit, for continuity’s sake, and used Illustrator because that’s what my predecessor had used. The rest of it’s all me, though [g].

Categories: museum work, museums | 2 Comments

it occurred to me today

That a curator update might be called for, since I haven’t written one in a while.

Some of the more unusual items I have cataloged recently in my textile cataloging gig:

1)  A B-17 bomber pilot outfit, consisting of what made me think of nothing so much as a pair of ski bibs and jacket.  Except, of course, for being made of leather lined with sheepskin and weighing what seemed like 500 pounds.

2) A pennant from the U.S.S. Arizona, dated 1924, commemorating a cruise to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

3) An assortment of souvenir hankies from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909.

4) And today, a 1940 leather football helmet from the local high school, and the jersey that went with it — both obviously well-worn and used.  The blue paint? dye? was peeling and cracking on the helmet, and the jersey was, among other things, missing a chunk at the back hem I estimate at about 5×7 inches.  Or a good handful [g]. 

I love this job.

Oh, and my other gig, the Lakewood Cityhood exhibit, will be opening in two weeks.  I have been creating graphics all week (well, taking the templates I created earlier and filling in the photos and text), and I’m just about ready to go to the printer tomorrow.  Hallelujah.

If you happen to be in Pierce County, Washington, on on Saturday, February 25th (or thereafter, until next February), come take a gander!  It’s at the Lakewood History Museum.

Categories: history, museum work, museums | 2 Comments

A time to reckon, I guess

These were my goals this time last year

1) Complete my first two freelance museum gigs.

I did. Both well enough to get rehired [g].

2) Find more potential clients and land more gigs.

I found one more new client, which I’ve been working steadily for since April, plus, as I said, rehired by both my old clients, although one has since gone dormant till spring for lack of funds.

3) Go to more museum workshops and a conference, and continue Heritage League committee work.

I’ve been to two workshops and taken two classes, but I didn’t make it to any conferences. The HL committee I was on finished its work in September, but I’ve been asked to be on the board, and probably will.

4) Write the mystery house rough draft.

Well, no. I’ve been working on the Yellowstone trilogy, though, and I will get back to it after I’m done with it.

5) Revise Sojourn, last year’s NaNo book.

Again, no, because of the Yellowstone trilogy. It’s in the pipeline, though.

6) Figure out what I’m going to do about the rest of the Yellowstone trilogy (which may end up as a duology), and get back to work on it.

I did figure it out, and what I did was do one more edit on Repeating History, create a cover, and format it for Amazon and Smashwords. I self-published it in early August, and it’s been selling a steady trickle of copies ever since.
And, no, the Yellowstone trilogy is not going to be a duology. True Gold, the second book, has an almost complete rough draft, and I have begun revisions.

7) Finish piecing the Imbolc Flame quilt, and finish quilting the Yule Log Cabin quilt. Maybe start a nice, simple throw of animal fabrics and the animal cross-stitch patterns I did last summer.

The Imbolc Flame quilt is pieced. I haven’t layered it yet, but I’ll get there. The Yule Log Cabin, well… It’s the disaster I finally ended up giving away partly quilted. First time I’ve ever done that with a quilt. The throw has just started to materialize (sorry, bad pun). I started piecing on it last week. I’ve also created several quilted pillows and am almost finished quilting a baby quilt for the great-nibling due in April.

8) Find some good 6″ square flower cross-stitch patterns for my Beltane quilt and begin stitching them.

I’ve stitched half a dozen of them, but I got sidetracked with some other projects, including a cross-stitched pillow. The Beltane quilt will happen. Eventually.

9) Go to Crater Lake, Yosemite, and WorldCon in Reno in August with my friend M.

We went, we had a great time [g].

10) Do more research on Washington history — find some more good stuff for my writing.

I did some, but I got kind of sidetracked researching True Gold.

11) Blog regularly.

Weell… Regularly, but not nearly as often as I would have liked.

And now this year’s goals

1) Complete the new museum exhibit by the end of February, and keep getting rehired to continue the textile collection work.

2) Pursue more collections work as opposed to exhibits work. Only sign with the dormant client if they have sufficient funds to finish what they hire me to do and a concrete objective for that work. Sign a contract with at least one new client.

3) Join the Heritage League board. Take a Photoshop class. Pursue other career educational opportunities including the Washington Museum Association conference, in Seattle this year.

4) Finish True Gold and self publish it by the first of June.

5) Write Finding Home (the third book in the Yellowstone trilogy) and self-publish it, hopefully by the end of the year.

6) Learn better book marketing skills and put them into practice.

7) Redecorate the living room. My living room has had a lighthouse theme for the last twenty years, and it’s time for a change. I have picked out some cross-stitch patterns and quilt fabrics with North American wild animals on them, so it’s a start.

8) Finish the baby quilt. Finish the animal sofa throw. Make a new table runner for the sofa table. Layer the Imbolc Flame quilt and start quilting it.

9) Make new cross-stitch pictures for the living room. I have eight picked out. We’ll see how many I can finish this year.

10) Make my first long car trip alone in five years [sigh]. The plan is to take off for two or three weeks in June and drive east. Maybe a night or two in Yellowstone to scatter bookmarks, but I want to go farther east than that, maybe as far as Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I also want to visit some of the historic sites like Fort Benton.

11) Get the garden cleaned up.

12) Blog more frequently.

So, what are your goals for 2012?

Categories: museum work, national parks, quilting, Repeating History, self-publishing, travel, True Gold, volunteering, writing | 2 Comments

Virtual Exhibits!

Today is the day that all that work cataloging photographs for the Tacoma Historical Society pays off.

Today, four virtual exhibits of historic photographs, one of postcards and photographs of early Tacoma schools, one of people, known and unknown, one of parks of Tacoma, and one of early Tacoma business and commerce, are available for public view on the Tacoma Historical Society’s website.

Please go take a look, and tell me what you think!

Categories: history, museum work, museums | 6 Comments

Something I never really thought I’d see

On an agent’s blog:

Rejections from agents or general trade editors is hardly ever a measure of the quality of your work.  If you’ve gotten a lot of those, look at other ways of getting your work in front of readers.

This makes me believe that the publishing world honestly is beginning to change.  Speaking as someone who is finally getting up the courage to self-publish my books, that first sentence is the antithesis of what I’ve been internalizing for the last ten years or so.  To read that in a “traditional” agent’s blog validates the route I’ve decided to take.  Mind, I would have taken this route, anyway, as on a personal level I need more control over my career than traditional publishing would give me (which is also why I am a former librarian and currently an independent curator and exhibit designer in my other life), but it’s incredibly good to see this right now.

Categories: freelancing, museum work, philosophy, Repeating History, self-publishing, writing | Leave a comment

it’s been a long time

Too long, I’m afraid.  I’m about to finish my second gig (the photo curation for the Tacoma Historical Society).  I have finished curating and cataloging over 2200 images, ranging from glass negatives to prints from digital images, and am now in the process of building virtual exhibits, collections of photographs with informative captions, which will be placed online as part of the Society’s website.  I will post the link as soon as it becomes available.  The first two virtual exhibits will be about early Tacoma schools and historic personages of Tacoma, respectively.

I have started a third, curating textiles, beginning with a collection of wedding gowns running the gamut from late 19th century to almost modern, for the Fife Historical Society.  And I am in discussions with yet another local historical society for the creation of another exhibit this fall.  So the freelance museum curator business seems to be keeping me in cotton gloves and acid-free tissue, at any rate.

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Washington State Historical Society research center, where I attended a workshop about curating baskets and other textiles.  The first part of the workshop was standard lecture/question and answer (and very informative), but the second part was touring several of the textile storage rooms, including one that housed over 1500 Northwest-made Indian baskets, many of which were over 100 years old.  I wish I’d brought my camera.  The baskets ran the gamut from thimble-sized to one I could almost have sat in, and included materials from bark to reed to beads.  I think my personal favorites were the one woven to look just like a china cup and saucer, and the collection of thimble-sized baskets.  I felt about those the way I do about miniature quilts at quilt shows.  Wow, that’s impressive.  Man, they must have been insane…

One other piece of unrelated news:  I am in the process of editing, creating cover art, and formatting my historical with a whiff of fantasy novel for the Kindle and Smashwords.  I hope to have it up and for sale by the end of July, and I will announce it here (and everywhere else I can think of) as soon as it becomes available.

And I’ll try not to disappear into the ether on you again any time soon, too.

Categories: freelancing, museum school, museum work, museums, Repeating History, research, self-publishing, writing | 5 Comments

a finished exhibit

Today I finished installing my first exhibit for pay, Clover Park:  How a school district helped build a community, for the Lakewood History Museum.  The grand opening, complete with ribbon cutting, will take place on Saturday, March 19th, at 1 pm.  The museum itself will be open from noon to six that day (the regular hours are 12-4, Wed.-Sat.).  If you will be in the Tacoma, Washington, area, on that day, we would be very happy to have you drop in!

If you can’t, well, here are some photos I took this afternoon after I wiped the last fingerprints off of the display case covers [g]:

The introductory panel.  The graphic design, four large panels, and templates for the smaller panels were created by the inventive Chris Erlich.  I couldn’t be more pleased with them.
The first display case.  The 1960-vintage Hudtloff Junior High School beanie is fun.  I mounted it on a styrofoam ball covered in polyethylene fleece.
One of the photo panel walls, including a timeline.

More photos, two small text panels, the acknowledgements panel, and another timeline panel.  Lakes High School has national award-winning choirs, as illustrated at the top of this photo.  The top left panel is about extremely recent history, since the Clover Park Warriors won the Washington state 2A basketball state title, and the Lakes Lancers won the Washington state 3A state basketball title, all in the same week last week.
The other display case, including a 1940-vintage high school diploma (Clover Park High School’s first graduating class), and two annuals, a 1940 Clover Park Klahowya, and a 1964 Lakes High School Legend (Lakes’ first graduating class).

This is a small sample of what’s in the exhibit.  In case you’re wondering about the colors, Clover Park High School’s colors are kelly green and gold, and Lakes High School’s colors are royal blue and orange.  They don’t look bad together, do they?

Categories: freelancing, history, museum work, museums, research | 6 Comments

Have you ever swung a wall around?

When I was a teenager, the year after my three sisters got married (yes, in the same year — 1971, the year I turned twelve), my mother decided that it would be nice if the newly-vacated two smallest bedrooms in our house could be turned into one.  On one side of the wall between the two rooms was a large built-in bookcase.  So she asked my father (who could do just about anything) if he couldn’t just swing that wall around so that the bookcase would be on the wall between the two doors.

My father, as I remember, gave her a pained look and gently told her, it doesn’t quite work that way.  Then he took the bookcase down, tore the wall out, rewired the ceiling lights so both would come on no matter which switch you hit, filled the gaps in the walls and ceiling with drywall, scraped asphalt tile off the floor of one bedroom and removed carpet from the other, sanded the floor till it was even, painted the walls and ceiling, laid down new carpet, and reinstalled the bookcase on the wall between the two doors.  It took him about six months, if I remember correctly.

Today I helped swing several walls.  Granted, they are temporary, made out of hinged-together hollow core doors, but if a device to separate one large room into several small ones can be called a wall, these are walls.

They were at the Lakewood History Museum, where my exhibit, “Clover Park, how a school district helped create a community,” will open three weeks from today.  It’s coming down to the wire.  The photos are selected, the text has been written, the text and photos for the four large panels have been sent to the fabricator, I have received the templates for the small text and the photo panels from her, and I have begun to create the smaller panels to put on a flash drive to take to the printer.  Next week we will have a mounting party, myself and several volunteers, to mount all the panels onto foam core board, and I will also fill the two cases with artifacts.  Week after next we will hang all the panels and I will add the case labels to the display cases.  We will have our grand opening on Saturday March 19th.  If you happen to be in the Tacoma, Washington, area on that day, the museum will be open from 12 noon to 5 pm, the ribbon cutting will be at 1 pm, and I would be extremely pleased to see you there.

I’ve been working on this project since the beginning of last November.  Not quite six months — it’ll be about four and a half by the time the exhibit opens.  I’ve interviewed about twenty people (including the 100-year-old daughter of the woman who pretty much founded the school district singlehandedly — sadly, she died last week, so this exhibit will be in her memory), collected photographs and artifacts from everywhere and everyone I could think of plus a few more, scanned dozens of the former, visited archives both here and out of town, assembled more information and facts about the Clover Park School District than I ever knew existed, and written a story in words, pictures, and objects that was far more interesting to create than I ever expected.  I hope it will be as interesting for the people who experience it.

I’m almost there.  I’m — figuratively speaking — painting walls and laying carpet. 

But today I actually did swing a few walls around.  Literally.  My father would have been jealous.

Categories: museum work, museums, philosophy, research, writing | 2 Comments

so much

For my new year’s goal to get my blogging back up to speed again.

I thought I was coming down to crunch time on the exhibit project, but due to circumstances which are due to someone else’s deadlines, it looks like the exhibit is not going to open until March (it was originally scheduled to open in mid-February, then the end of February).  I’m ambivalent about this.  I’m about to the point where I want to get it finished, but then again, two to four more weeks of a chance to improve on what I’ve already got done is nothing to sneeze at, either.

The photo curation project has acquired several volunteers.  My good friend L donated a few hours of her time, and one of the members of the collections committee (except for me, this is an all-volunteer organization) has been giving me about six hours a week of his time, too.  Then there’s the college student whose school requires her to do a certain amount of volunteer work between semesters.  So I have her for about fifteen hours a week for the next couple of weeks.  All of a sudden the work is going much faster than it had been.  Having someone to a) label photos and their sleeves before I catalog them on the computer, and b) scan the photos after I’ve done the cataloging, has really sped up the process.  Quite amazing.

I’ve never been on the “working with volunteers” end of the spectrum as opposed to “being one of the volunteers” before.  Anyone have any good advice on the subject?

Categories: museum work, museums, research, volunteering | 2 Comments

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