Do you ever find yourself doing “hotel art?” You know, you’re at a conference, you take a class, and you just can’t wait until you get home to finish up whatever you just learned about? Or you took a class that involved messy stuff, and you really have to wash out that fabric before you pack your suitcase to head home?
There are tons of good reasons to travel with art supplies and to make art whenever you get the chance. It’s just a little more tricky than playing in your work room at home.
I did a little “hotel art” in my room last week getting ready for a series of make-and-take session for a bunch of sales reps. As I was preparing to play with polymer clay, pigment powders, and stenciling with textile paint, I thought it would be fun to share my Hotel Art Commandments. That’s commandments – not “suggestions” – unless you want to get an extra large bill after the housekeeping staff becomes unglued trying to clean up after you.
Thou shalt carry a drop-cloth with thy supplies.
Hotels used to favor brightly printed bedspreads that were capable of hiding a multitude of sins, but not any more. In at least 80% of my recent trips, I have encountered beautiful white linens and duvet covers. They look great, but show every speck of dirt from a suitcase, let alone a little “oops” from a spontaneous art project.
Thou shalt seal any jars containing liquids before putting them in thy suitcase.
There is NOTHING worse than opening a suitcase to find that something has leaked or spilled. Especially if the suitcase contains your clothes as well as your art goodies. Get yourself a roll of electrical tape to seal any jars or bottles as you pack. It’s stretchy and the best way I know to seal containers for travel. Then put everything in plastic zippy bags. And, no, it’s not overkill to double bag stuff that might spill.
Thou shalt always pack an apron.
Always. I do my best to pack lightly when I travel. An apron is the most compact weapon for “oops” protection available, and far more important than the extra sweater that you “might” need. Don’t leave home without it!
Thou shalt bring thy own art towels.
No, it is not okay to use the fluffy white towels in the room to clean up after yourself. If you are carrying art supplies, make sure you pack a couple of the old grungy towels from your studio. With your own towels in hand, you’ll stay on good terms with the housekeepers. Besides, you can toss them in the trash before heading home without a twinge of guilt.
Thou shalt not leave a film of dark green paint in the sink or tub.
As you know, you should never allow paints (and other gooey stuff) to dry on any surface where you don’t want it to be permanent – and this includes the hotel bathroom. You brought your art towels, right? Use them!
Thou shalt not leave the hotel carpet full of shiny stuff.
If you’ve ever tipped over a container of glitter or pigment powder, you know what an incredible mess it can make. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry. Don’t even think about opening that jar of shiny stuff until the drop cloth is in place.
Thou shalt order room service BEFORE thee begins to play.
Face it. What they don’t know, won’t hurt them. It’s far better to avoid having any staff in the room once you’re in the middle of your art project. Trust me. And don’t forget to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door until you know you’ve got everything tidied up, including the bathroom sink.
Thou shalt always carry an extra stash of zippy bags.
Actually, this is a good habit to get into for any trip, not just trips that may involve hotel art. You never know when you’ll need an extra plastic bag to pack a wet garment, a muddy pair of shoes – or those dirty art towels that you decide to take home with you.
Thou shalt not feel guilty about throwing away inexpensive supplies when necessary.
This is for teachers. There are occasions when time is short; or, there is simply no good way to clean up and reuse the supplies from a class. When this happens, it’s perfectly okay to push everything disposable into the middle of the drop cloth, roll it up, and deposit the whole works in the trash bin. (You did bring a disposable drop cloth, right?)
Thou shalt have a wonderful time making art!
I rarely leave home without at least a small stash of art supplies in my bag. Even if it’s just colored pencils and a drawing book. I love being able to sketch out a pattern that catches my eye, or capture the color of gardens in bloom. While “hotel art” can be challenging, it can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. At least as long as you have a few key supplies on hand, and a few simple commandments in mind.
Do you have any good “hotel art” stories? I’d love to hear about your adventures. I just know I’m not the only one who indulges in this game! Leave a comment here on the Blog, or hop over to our Facebook page. And have fun making art!
Lots of good tips here, thanks Shelly. One added bit: If you don’t check your luggage, be aware of the security restrictions on liquids.
I’m reminded of times I carried craft supplies on vacation with plans to get lots of things done only to have them ignored when I got involved in other fun activities, LoL. I’ve had to learn to be more realistic in my expectations of what I can or want to accomplish.
As I (www.mijn-eigen.nl) am your unofficialdutch representative I am very happy with your list. Next week I will be going to Germany Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe. It is a really big show for us and your listing is as if you have been looking in my suitcase that I have not yet packed.
Thank you for listing ESSENTIALS
Happy travels, Janine! Have a lovely trip to Germany for the big show – and keep that hotel room in good shape. (At least when the staff is looking! 🙂
Nancy Masters says
Shelly, I order some of the Sew Lazy Stiff Stuff firm sew in interfacing that you recommended a few weeks ago. What arrived was some paper with glue in a cross hatched pattern. There seems to be no interfacing. Is this what I should be using? I emailed the Quilter’s Warehouse and they have not replied. I haven’t had a chance to call them yet. I thought I would check with you.
PS I enjoy your blog.
Nancy Masters, you definitely got the wrong stuff from QW. Stiff Stuff is a thick interfacing/stabilizer, just not as heavy as Timtex or Peltex. If they give a Customer Service phone number, I would definitely call to get that corrected.
Nancy Truhn says
great tips, I take exception at #9, if you ask I would be there would be people willing to take this “trash” off your hands! 🙂
You’re right, Nancy! Sometimes there are people who are more than happy to acquire the left overs from a class. And when that happens, I’m always happy to give the supplies away. In this case, the paint bottles were virtually empty (after living in my studio for a number of years…) and everyone in the room had flown in from across the country to attend the event. None of us wanted to put messy stuff in our suitcase.
how are you using pigment powders? i find the idea intriguing.
There is a fun thing you can do with Pigment Powders, polymer clay and rubbing plates. I took a soft brush, dipped it (very lightly) into the pigment powder, and brushed the powder onto the rubbing plate. Then rolled out a chunk of black polymer clay so that it was about 1/8″ thick. I pressed the clay into the grooves on the plate. The pigment powder sticks to the clay and becomes permanent when you bake the clay to harden it. It’s a great way to make buttons or just interesting shapes for mixed-media applications.