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Artists in The Wind

Preparing your setup for windy conditions

The title of this article might sound poetic. But when a gust of wind lifts your fragile artwork and slams it down 20 feet away, you’re likelier to utter a curse than a verse.

The winds have torn through the Street Gallery in the past, and will surely come again. But with the right setup, you can minimize anguish and destruction. Street Gallery veterans Joseph Forbish and Thomas Hooker shared their secrets of optimal booth setup.

Get the Right Canopy

Canopy design is key, says Joseph. “We are all broke, but the cheapo ‘10x10’ canopies that are only fifty dollars only have an actual 8x8 top,” he says. “These are built very poorly and of very cheap materials. They work in a pinch, but what you really want are the true 10x10 canopies.” Choose one with a vent in the top. “The reason canopies fly in to wind is because they become sails,” Joe says. The vent in the top allows air through, avoiding the sail effect. These canopies can almost – but not quite – withstand wind on their own. Expect to spend a couple hundred bucks to get a decent tent, he says.

Thomas recommends Costco or Andy and Bax for canopy shopping. He favors the EZ UP brand.

Weight it Down

So how do you make your primo canopy behave? With weights. “Anything heavy that is suspended from the canopy will help,” Joe says. “Barbells, full milk jugs, dogs, babies, anything. I personally use 30-40 pounds per foot on my canopies. The more, the merrier.” Okay, we think he’s joking about dogs and babies. Note the UAN cannot take responsibility for the misuse of these critters.

Hang your weights as low as possible. “A lot of people hang the weights from the top,” Joe says. “But this puts a very strong load on the frame and legs. It allows the weights to sway and push in the wind. When they are down low, they work better and put a lot less stress on the canopy.” Use bungee cords to strap them to the legs, or create a foot that actually allows you to connect the weight. “Google ‘DIY canopy weights’ and you will come up with a gazillion options,” Joe says. See his recipe for inexpensive homemade weights at the end of this article.


Judge the Wind

Take a moment before you set up to figure out which way the wind is blowing. “Place artwork in such a way to minimize the artwork’s movement,” Thomas says. “Allow for air flow. Sometimes walls are a problem when the wind blows hard.”

Secure Your Work

Thomas and Joe both emphasize the importance of securing your work. And remember, the smaller and lighter your art, the farther the wind will blow it. “Grid walls, hanging systems, plywood, etcetera, can be used to show your work,” Joseph says. “To each their own on this.” 

Thomas suggests cutting small bungee cords in half, then tying 100-pound clear fishing line to each end. “This allows the fishing line to be attached to grids behind the artwork to keep it from flapping,” he says.

How to Make Your Own Weights

If thinking about canopy weights put you in a DIY mood, Joseph provides the following recipe for making your own. This recipe makes four weights. Note: Costs are rough estimates.

Ingredients

  • approximately 10' of 4-5" PVS (The larger the heavier) or 20' of 3" (For a longer weight) = $5 or so
  • 8 end caps for the PVS = $8 maybe
  • glue for the PVS = $4
  • 4 6-12" long J Bolts with matching nuts and washers (the J Bolts need to be just long enough to embed into the concrete once poured (Threaded hooks) = $10
  • 2 or so bags of concrete mix = $10

Directions

  1. 1. Cut the tubes into pieces. If you’re using the larger diameter PVC, cut into four sections of about 18 inches each. For the smaller diameter, cut four lengths of 36 inches.
  2. 2. Glue a cap onto one side of each tube forming a large cup of sorts
  3. 3. Drill a hole into the non-glued side of caps large enough for the J Bolt to go through.
  4. 4.  Put a nut onto each J bolt and thread it all the way up. Make sure there’s enough space to allow 2 inches or so of clearance.
  5. 5.  Insert a J Bolt all the way into each drilled cap so that the hook is on the outside part of the cap. Put on a washer and nut all the way until it stops, then hand tighten. At this point, when you put the cap onto the PVC the bolt will go at least 6 inches into the tube. This is what we want.
  6. 6.  Mix up the concrete to a thick consistency. You don't want it to be watery; the wetter the mix, the more shrinkage when it dries.
  7. 7.  Fill each tube all the way up with concrete. Prop them up so they don't spill.
  8. 8. Clean the tops of the tube and dry to prepare for gluing.
  9. 9. Glue on the caps. Allow to dry overnight.

You now have weights that you can hang from the canopy frame! They should weigh approximately 10-15 pounds each.