United print. signs. graphics. recently provided a variety of pieces for an exhibit installation at the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum. Ellisport: The Hidden History is the newest exhibit to open at the museum, on display from April 7 through September 24, 2017. We worked with the exhibit’s designer, Jessica De Wire, to produce a range of materials to help this display spring to life from concept to final execution.

De Wire explains the concept and inspiration for the exhibit: “Dock pilings…standing at what was once a buzzing port, gazing at remnant dock pilings, one cannot help but wonder what was happening in Ellisport. Inspired by the widely recognized and ever-photographed string of remnant pilings that exist in Ellisport today, we created two groupings of dock pilings; one at the dedicated lobby wall and one to designate the entrance to the exhibit.”

She notes, “Our museum building was originally built as a church in 1904 and the interior gets a ton of natural light through its tall windows. The Museum closes at 4:00 p.m., so the space is rarely not flooded with natural light. I like to use saturated (and often dark) colors in our special exhibits to balance all that light streaming in and give the visitor’s eye a little resting space. We often cram a lot of information into our special exhibits and, as you saw, the space is kind of small so the dark colors help the wall to recede and ‘expand’ the space. I like to keep the special exhibit design palettes pretty tight to set apart these rotating shows from the permanent exhibit space.”

Foremost in the Museum’s interest, De Wire came to United with a need to stay on-budget and on-time while focusing on putting together a polished blend of print pieces that could be self-installed and still elevate her design. “Our museum features two special exhibits per year and I share the design-fabrication-installation responsibilities with my fellow volunteer Royce Wall. Years back we were doing most of our production involving mountains of foamcore [paper-faced foam board], clouds of spray adhesive, and a questionable vintage mat-cutter,” remarked De Wire.

Cut vinyl lettering and direct-print eco-boards were used to achieve this design.

She continues, “In 2015, I curated and designed our show Pt. Robinson Lighthouse: 100 Years on Watch and I contacted United knowing there was a better way to produce these exhibits. I got great advice and direction from United staff. Having our interpretive panels and other didactics professionally produced was a turning point for our special exhibits. We were no longer limited by our make-shift production shop. The hours saved by having United print for us means more time spent on content, interactive displays, and new ideas. Additionally, our temporary exhibits have become ‘greener’ by direct-printing on eco-board material which is entirely recyclable unlike foamcore. No more huffing spray adhesive inside a cardboard box ‘spray booth’ AND…at the end of the day, the cost of printing out-of-house is barely more than it was costing us in-house to produce something of less grace.”

Full wall adhesive produced on wall noodle, perfect for an exhibit space.

“This time around, [United president] Michael Barrett introduced me to wall noodle [a movable, self-adhesive material]. I had designed some sizable panels (6′ x 6′). Michael suggested consolidating the panels into full wall adhesive. That turned out to be a great idea and elevated the design. Installing the wall noodle wasn’t the EASIEST thing I’ve ever done but, with Exhibit Curator Carla Okigwe’s help and a little sweat, we got it up there and it looks fab. Michael warned the installation wasn’t easy and I thank him for that. I would suggest that those who do not think of themselves as detailed-oriented, patient taskmasters should opt for professional installation. We’re volunteer-driven and community-funded so installing exhibits ourselves keeps our bottom line down.”

KVI Beach radio tower panels w/ interactive flash pattern.

Barrett remarked, “We’re committed to providing small, community-oriented museums with high-quality materials and service – whether we’re doing the installation alongside their staff or we’re just supplying materials. Our ability to connect with our neighbors and the arts community is important to us as a company. Working with Jessica on the Ellisport museum exhibit is a great opportunity for United to participate in a rich, historical community event and help a community-funded organization stay on budget while still showing off a polished look. Consulting on exhibit needs and making suggestions on how to improve that process is all part of our customer service philosophy.”

De Wire echoes that sentiment on her working relationship with the staff here at United: “United’s bend-over-backward promise is the real deal. I’m steep in the learning curve of graphic design and I make mistakes. United and Michael were ever patient and committed to helping us meet our opening-night deadline. Y’all went above and beyond as I have always known you to do.”

Islanders and visitors to the Vashon community will see gorgeous views, sandy beaches and a warm, welcoming neighborhood spirit. This museum exhibit provides a glimpse of history of The Chautauqua Assembly and the Community of Ellisport. Visit Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum Wednesday through Sunday, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Admission by donation. Location and more on the website: http://www.vashonhistory.org/museum.html