Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Presentation for a small(ish) tapestry

Here is how I am mounting the "February" tapestry. First, I must say that this is not how I mount all small tapestries. I try to match the presentation of a piece with the piece itself, and some need to have some additional fabric showing, and some do not. On this one, I have decided that it is large enough to not need an additional edging showing.

First, I had my own personal made-to-order stretcher frame created by my own personal handyman. The stretcher frames you can buy at frame shops work, but I wanted this one to be a bit thicker, and the ones my husband makes are much sturdier, as well. This one was made to the exact dimensions of the tapestry, as I don't want any extra edging showing. If you will want some of the fabric mount to show, be sure to add those dimensions to your stretcher frame.

As this stretcher was unfinished wood, I needed it to be either varnished or painted, so the wood itself would have a finish to it and would not eventually discolor the fabric. I opted to paint it, mainly because the acrylic paint dries faster than varnish. Either works to seal the wood, though, and it will not show.

I use an inner liner, just so it will look good from the back. This piece of fabric (I used a nice linen blend fabric) is stapled to the top edge of the frame.

Because a tapestry is fiber, I like it to have a bit of 'softness' to it, but not necessarily a lot. I put one layer of thin quilt batting onto the frame, pulled taut, and staple it on top of the inner liner next. I staple it onto the sides of the stretcher frame. I don't miter the corners of the batting, which would add bulk; I just cut the corners off.

The final layer of fabric is the one that will show. On this tapestry, it will only show on the side edges, but I still want to use a fabric that will complement the tapestry, and will not distract from it. I generally like to use a neutral color, and I like a fabric with a weave that shows and says, "woven fabric." This time, I chose a natural colored linen with an obvious weave structure and subtle flecks of contrasting threads. This fabric needs to be stretched over the frame, the batting, and the liner fairly tightly and very evenly, and stapled to the back edges of the frame. So when all is stapled, each layer is stapled to a different edge of the frame (which keeps you from stapling into previous staples.) Also, as you staple, turn the edge under a half inch or so, to give a finished edge and to keep the fabric from unraveling or shredding threads. I staple this layer using more staples, more closely together.

The corners are the most challenging area to get to look nice. The main thing is to be consistent. If you miter on one corner, do it on all of them. If you overlap to the top edge on one corner, do it on the other top edge, and to the two bottom edges, or to all four side edges. On this piece, I have done a half-miter that sends some excess bulk to all edges.

These layers cover the stretcher with all but the tapestry. Make sure they are even and taut, as they are what will support the weight of the tapestry, and you don't want them to get baggy over time.

Before you attach the tapestry, put three screw eyes in the stretcher frame on the back, for hanging. I use three so the weight of the tapestry will not pull in the sides of the frame. The two side ones go about a third of the way down from the top, and the third goes in the middle of the bottom. String heavy framing wire through them. On smaller pieces, two screw eyes is sufficient, and it probably would have been for this one.

Now stitch the tapestry, by hand, using an invisible stitch, and strong quilting or upholstery thread, to the covered frame. I use stitches that are about 1/4inch apart. If you find the stitching awkward, you could use a C-shaped needle.

Viola: Done, and ready to hang!

By the way, the beautiful oak dining chair below the tapestry is one of six that my husband has just completed making; two with arms, four without. Our home is filling up with his amazing work. (And, warped as our old house is, it is not quite as bad as this wide-angled shot makes it look!)


Miss 376 said...

What a talented pair you are! The tapestry looks wonderful mounted and and a clear tutorial on how it was achieved. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thursday 10/2/08 7:59am
Thank you so much for sharing this interesting with photos....from Janet on the East Coast

ixchel said...

great solution! unfortunately when you deal with larger formats becomes a bit more complicated.
Ixchel Suarez

K Spoering said...

Yes, you're right, Ixchel. This piece is probably as large as I would mount this way (18x18"). My larger pieces hang loosely from a hanging bar. But mounting the smaller ones seems to give them a bit more 'presence' I think.

all said...

Thanks so much Kathy. Very clear and helpful example. You are very thoughtful for the rest of us!


Flying Colors said...

Beautiful weaving, that is a lot of work! Enjoyed reading this post.

You have such perfect corners!

I majored in weaving in art school :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you! I have saved your post in my files and will refer to it often. I'm just beginning to make larger tapestries and this will be invaluable in future.

Traudi Bestler

Mary said...

Thank you for this post, it is very informative. I searched your blog for this topic, specifically. It is clear and I will have to give it a try.