Shipping Art

IMG_5932Shipping art to the U.S. and getting it back again. It’s the getting it back that’s the tough part. I had 5 pieces in an exhibition in New York a few years ago. After the show was over and the gallery shipped it back, the work was stopped at the border. Customs would not release it until I paid a brokerage fee. I called Canada Customs and explained that I owned the work but it seems that they don’t have a way to handle this. There was a value placed on the work so there was duty. In the end I was told that the only way to avoid duty is to broker it yourself.

Now saying all that…

When I shipped the work to New York I used an art shipper. Actually 2 art shippers; one from Calgary to Toronto, then handed off from Toronto to New York. They took care of everything and all the costs were quoted up front. It was expensive (close to $900 for 5 pc’s) but it arrived all very safe and sound.

I believe the trouble I had on the return delivery was because the gallery tiring to save money shipped my work FedEx Ground! Why is still beyond me, this was a very reputable gallery who ships work back and forth all across America but not that often across the border. Had they used an bonafide art shipper I don’t believe I would of had the problems I had.

Did I mention that all the work can back DAMAGED! They even managed to break a wood crate. That’s because they shipped via ground and my work was bounced all around the U.S. before it even managed to reach the border. You can imagine how my heart sank when the work finally arrived 2 weeks later.

I hear a lot of horror stories about damaged art and all the artist can do is throw their hands in the air in defeat. I thought that I was going to be one of those but the gallery owner really came through for me. He fought tooth and nail with FedEx and managed to get me a settlement. They also sent me the encaustic that I would need to repair the work, which I was able to do.

The typical scenario is that the artist pays to have the work shipped there and the gallery is responsible to incur the cost of the return. Perhaps it would be prudent to discuss the shipping methods up front before entering into a contract.

Here’s a list of some art shippers at


In 2007 I started working with brushes; hair brushes.  The concept seems rather obvious – hair and brushes. I found some basic brushes at the drug store that I used originally and they had a flexible base that I could pull the hair through with a crochet hook. Tedious job that and a bit messy – hair every where.

But the work always nagged me for a better brush. This year I revisited this work because a friend of mine donated 2 vintage brushes. It wasn’t as easy this time to pull the hair through as the bases were solid. I had to drill the holes straight through to the back and make sure everything was really tight in order to fit it all back together.

I had actually thought that this concept was done on the first go around. The idea was executed and my creativity satisfied for the most part, except for the nag about the quality of the brush it self.  So a great big thank you to Bev Tosh for the brushes; it was well worth the work.


Family of Four

About “Family of Four” (triptych)

Family of Four examines the visual blending of the family matriarch with the other family members. By overlaying images of husband, daughter and son with the mother one is not only able to see the physical resemblances but is able to feel the strength and influence of the strong personality of the matriarch.

The images are hand pulled on to translucent chiffon and layered with the matriarch set in an encaustic background and the top image set off approximately ½”. The layering adds a sense of depth and changes the image depending on the viewer’s vantage point, which also adds to physiological impact the matriarch may have had on the other family members.

Pins and Needles

Kim Bruce - Well Heeled
Kim Bruce – Well Heeled

People are either totally fascinated or disturbed by my use of pins and needles in my work and very rarely immune . Since I prefer to work with opposites I find these opposing viewpoints are very apt. I believe my work gets its balance both visually and ethereally by using contrasting elements. When you think of a pin it’s a very feminine object, but it’s hard, straight and sharp. Yet, it’s used with fabrics which are soft, flexible and warm.

By far the piece that draws the most attention when it comes to my use of pins is “Pin Point”.  Pin Point is a cast beeswax figure draped in wax muslin, carved into and plied with hundreds of straight pins. I think Wes Fortune said it best in the review of “MiniArture”.

“The works of Calgary-based artist Kim Bruce illustrate this point in the most elegant fashion. The former interior designer now full time artist creates sculptures that provoke musings about her state of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and ultimately, our own.”
Wes LaFortune, ffwd,
It’s a small world: Vol 9 No 10, Feb 12, 2004 (PDF)

Pin Point made it into the New York Times when they wrote an article on R & F Handmade (encasutic) Paints at the same time that I was included in a group exhibition at their gallery.

Pin Point will be exhibited in Toronto in the Sculptors Society of Canada’s show this August to Sept 2010.The other pin piece selected for the exhibit is “Pin Head ll” and a non-pin piece “Gangsta” from the All in My Head series. So if you are in Toronto I invite you to stop by.  Please see my “Exhibits” page for details.

Here are some other works with pins, needles and safety pins including Pin Head ll.

On Drawing

In the beginning…it is about drawing. Drawing hones your visual skills and helps you find and create energy.

I look at a subject while drawing and see the line and space and transfer that on to the surface with sensitivity and conviction.  In ‘my’ beginning all I wanted to do is draw and I studied figure drawing at ACAD and the UofC. I drew and drew but somewhere along the way I felt that I hit a wall. Drawing and painting while a definite and useful foundation was not fulfilling my 3 dimensional vision.

I have this innate ability to see 3 dimensionally. I probably honed this skill in my 17 years as a store planner – interior designer. I use to sit in a quiet corner of my office,  close my eyes and walk through the space I was designing and see around the corners. This enabled me to refine details and lock in transitions.

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As a sculptor the most gratifying pieces are those that visually pop into my head already complete and all I have to do is translate. Last Spike was one of those pieces. We were sitting watching tv and I turned to Ran (my husband) and said I need a railway spike and a stiletto. Oddly enough I had the railway spike but had to go the second hand store for the stiletto.

Actual most of the HomeEc series came to me this way. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it is an amazing feeling.

I believe drawing is really important when one starts studying art, it creates a foundation and builds confidence. But in the end one must be true to their own unique vision.

Here’s a few drawings.

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Off the Wall Series

I just finished this piece the other day. The piece is called “In-Spires”. This is the fourth in the new series called “Off the Wall”.

I know when a idea is worth pursuing when I don’t hem and haw over it; I just start and see where it goes. I start to play; it is exhausting work. My studio becomes a mine field as I pull this or that to see how it relates. Typically I put a few items together and then start the process of visual problem solving.

This series started when I was thinking about wanting to work with new shapes but didn’t want to go through the process of creating the clay sculpture, doing the rubber mold, etc, I just wanted to start working with the final casting. So I hunted around the house looking at my dishes, collection of assorted cool little collectibles, even in the garage all the while gauging the objects usefulness as a form. But it would not due if I cast wax in my favorite antique tea cup so realizing that I need a barrier between the two that hunt began again.  I could use a release agent – no to risky, encasutic is a liquid and tends to drip and generally makes a mess.  I settled on plastic bags, covers the object and then some and easily releases the wax when solidified.

So the logistics being solved off I go then casting encasutic in my assorted treasured shapes. In-Spires is cast in eggcups and capped with these cool little funnel looking objects that I got from god knows where and have packed around for god knows how many years. I then wrapped them with fine embroidery thread and capped them off with found objects.

Well let’s start

kim-meI have always shied away writing about my work;  it always seemed to personal.  Or is it just that I find it hard to articulate what it is that the work makes me feel, what does it all mean?  I took the stance that “It is VISUAL ART let the work speak for it self” and that works if the only people that look at your work are other artists (for some reason artists get my work).

I’m working with a new client at my Artbiz web design business and I haven’t even finish the site yet. But she sent me a number of articles, press releases and the like and right on top was an article from Opus high lighted with a note that said “Kim this story reminds me to have lots of info on my website”. Reading the article Three Career Concerns – Part one -Stories and Value by Chris Tyrell I realize yup that’s right stop avoiding.

Basically the just of it is, the general principal behind it all, what people want is to know the story. Why paraphrase when I can insert an excerpt from the article that says it best…

The point of this exercise is that very often buyers of art (especially those who do not buy art often) want to have something to say about the work they buy because when they put their work on display in their homes or offices they want to have something intelligent to say in response to the compliments it generates. They value being able to respond by saying such things as, “the artist told me that …” or “the inspiration of the work is an interesting story….” Having an insightful anecdote or two to tell admirers of the purchased art provides a lot of the emotional benefit to making the purchase.

by Chris Tyrell

Well, so, I guess, I’ll let you into my secret world of art and why I make it. What inspires me and perhaps along the way I’ll get to know myself and my work just a little bit better. ta da!