Thursday, July 7, 2011

textile shark

Mounting textiles = shooting pool.
Learning physics is great.  But it means nothing without frequent tactile experience.

So a client brings in this beautiful fine silk square from 1940s Japan, a family heirloom.  There are some condition issues, the dye has run in spots and upon very close inspection there are some tiny tears, but in all this is a beauty.  I love the bold geometric pattern and the personalization.  I note that silk has no elasticity, and silk this fine cannot be sewn down to the backing (as would be done to more sturdy fabrics) without damage.  Most other methods of mounting would cause sagging.

I turn to fusion film.  This stuff is completely reversible and invented primarily for fabrics. What a glorious day it was when I discovered it could be used to mount Indian silk paintings!  (I am something of an expert in those, too :)  But I wanted to float this item in the center of a mat, not cut an opening in the mat...  

There is a way.  And in the last big shop I managed, we referred to it as New York Style.  I have taught this method to many framers.  It is a great trick to have up one's sleeve.

Step 1.  Put item face down on release, kraft, or other inconsequential paper.  Layer fusion film on top of upside-down art.  Then a layer of release paper and release board on the top.  Put in drymount press on regular settings.

Wait 5 minutes.

Step 2.  Remove item from press.  Carefully score around the outside edge of the art with a sharp blade.  Item will lift off the paper leaving excess fusion film behind.

Step 3.  Position art rightside-up on the matboard selected for the frame package.  Layer release paper & release board on top, like usual.  Put in drymount press.

Wait 5 more minutes.

Now add frame & glass.  Voila!

In this case we chose a vivid orange metal frame with tall spacers.  I love how simple and modern it looks.

You may observe that the scarf is not perfectly square and the edges have some waves.  


Silk is one of those fabrics that if you pull it square one way, then the opposite edge goes out of square.  The very best way to handle it is to let the fabric do what it wants.  Get it as square as possible without pulling and just let it lay naturally.  The fusion mount is an all-over adhesive so this scarf will never sag, ripple, or do anything other than be suspended in this manner.  It can, however, come out of this framing package completely unscathed, and that is the job of a conservation framer.


  1. Gorgeous! I have a bandana-type scarf tucked safely in storage that is a map of Austria (I believe) that my Dad brought to my Mom from when he was stationed there just after WWII. I will bring it to you directly when I come across it!