By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP
When I first spotted Artsy Couture Gallery Blocks on a tradeshow floor, I was intrigued and asked the salesperson how the product was created. They have a depth like canvas wraps, but with sharp, neat edges. It’s a three-dimensional presentation of multiple blocks layered on one piece, too. The salesperson showed me that the pieces have a wood substructure and explained that the prints are metallic with a laminate-type coating over the top.
For the purposes of this review, I tested out three different products:
• 6x6 Gallery Block Set (3 single blocks with no backboard)
• The Top of the Line (7x10 floating gallery block on a 15x20 backboard)
• The Show Off (four 9.5x7.5 floating gallery blocks on a 21x21 backboard)
The Gallery Block set was very straightforward to order and lay out using ROES. The hardest part was selecting which designer template I wanted to use. Rather than having my images wrap around the edge, by selecting a designer template my 6”x6” gallery blocks ended up having a nice decorative fleur-de-lis pattern on the edges of each block. This turned out quite nicely!
Next, I designed The Show Off. While using ROES was no problem, I did spend more time figuring out the best layout option. Again, by selecting a designer template, I was able to have a pattern element on the edges to tie all the floating blocks together. The backboard also displayed the same pattern element. In the screenshot below, you’ll see how the layout is shown in upper left, and the four floating images (and wraps) as well as the backboard can be edited individually.
For my final sample piece, I designed The Top of the Line. This one was a little more complicated, because while I was happy with the layout, I wanted a horizontal orientation rather than vertical. By reading the directions, I discovered this was no problem—you just have to let Artsy Couture know in the ROES notes which way is “up” so the piece will hang properly.
Here’s my design:
And here’s what it actually looked like in ROES:
For this piece, I opted to forgo the designer template option, and instead allowed my image files to wrap around the edges of both pieces. I love how this one turned out.
My order arrived in good time, and was certainly well-packaged. After I got all the bubble wrap and protective wrapping off the pieces, it was time to hang them. It took me a while to get up the courage to put these on the wall, as they do weigh quite a bit. While they give the impression of a solid block, each Gallery Block is actually hollow (more like a box lid). If you look at the image below, you’ll see what I mean. The lighter strip of wood at the top is actually the hanging strip. It is slightly angled to hold the piece on the nail when on the wall.
The 6x6 blocks went up first. That was a simple matter of spacing three nails evenly on the wall. For the other two, I had to do a little more prep work. Using my stud finder, I located the stud nearest the center of where I planned to hang each piece. Of course, as luck would have it, the studs were off-center from where the picture was to hang. Given the weight of these pieces, I knew I needed to go into at least one stud, so I took a 3-inch nail and hammered away. Then, I took another nail and put that into just the drywall (about 6 inches away from the first, checking for level). This workaround allowed me to level out the piece, center it on the wall, and still feel comfortable with having the weight supported by a stud. Here are the pieces after hanging:
And here’s a close-up of the edging, so you can get a better feel for the three-dimensional quality of the Gallery Blocks.
They really are nice pieces, and though their weight did make me reluctant to hang the Gallery Blocks, I certainly am happy that they are so well constructed. The floating pieces are very well attached. My one complaint? The designer templates were one particular color per pattern. I wish I could apply different color hues to a particular pattern so it could be a better match for the room. In the end, even though the designer template “purple” pattern doesn’t exactly go with the green wall, once I had it up, I found my eye was more drawn to the images anyway.
Gallery Blocks are available as single blocks, sets, and floating blocks. They even offer “mini” versions of the floating blocks, so you can design once, and sell multiple versions. This would be great for add-on sales: sell the large piece to the new parents, and offer two “mini” pieces for the new grandparents (same design, of course). Prices start at $29.99 for single Gallery Blocks, $41.99 for sets, $64.99 for Mini Gallery Blocks, and $99 for Floating Gallery Blocks. For more information, visit artsycouture.com.