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tapestry trouble

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  • tapestry trouble

    Hello , my name is fee , I have just bought an emily peacock tapestry ( its my first attempt at needlework) it is a bit ambitious. It is going to be 27 " but the canvas is actually 34"

    I have been checking ebay and other places ( charity shops ) for frames I am now the owner of 2 hand held frames . they are 27 " and of course the 'canvas' is too large. How much bigger does the canvas need to be than the actual finished size. Can any one recommend the best floor standing frame? Are these easier than hand held ones for a froject this size ?
    Thank you in advance !!!

  • #2
    I am a picture framer by trade. I am presuming you are have a fairly rigid canvas to work with, not a soft cloth. A lot of my customers who do tapestries do not use a frame. The main thing for you to do is ensure you keep an even tension in every stitch. If you overtension some stitches compared to other areas then the canvas can be shrunk by the extra tension. When a framer comes to stretch the canvas for framing, they cannot then make the canvas flat, straight and square.

    Ideally you should use a floor mounted frame, but you could just as easily have some one make a timber frame larger than the canvas and then hand stitch the canvas arround the frame. This would certainly work out cheaper and would hold the canvas in a stable postion.

    Refering to how big should the canvas be in relation to the finished size. For any framer to stretch a tapestry there needs to be an edge of at least 2½ inches all round the image area, otherwise there is nothing to grip whilst tensioning.

    Whilst talking about framing a tapestry I should mention there are a number of methods that framers use to stretch a canvas.
    1. The cheapest way is for the framer to cut a piece of mountcard the size of the image. All round the back edge is fixed a very sticky double sided tape. Then one edge is stuck and the opposite side is the fixed whilst bending the board away from the canvas. This is then repeated for the other two sides. It is very quick but can allow many canvases to remain out of square and have wavy lines along the rows of stitches. Also once done cannot be altered for any additional work. The framer then uses the frame and glass to pull the stretched canvas flat.
    2. The correct way for any precious needlework is for it to be hand stitched from top to bottom and from side to side over an inert and stable board. This is very time consuming as huge amounts of thread have to be pulled through (fishing line is the best), but does allow for some adjustment in trying to make the canvas straight and square.
    3. My prefered method for stretching is to staple flat onto a piece of thin plywood with an acid free barrier layer between the canvas and plywood. I can ensure the canvas is straight and square (even if lozenged shaped when delivered). For an image about 20x16 I will use about 400 staples, but only about 100 remain when framed. The rest are used in adjusting the tension before removal. This can be a time consuming process, but does deliver the best results for being straight and square. The downside is sometimes a staple can cut a canvas thread, but this usually has no effect on the end result. Also a very high grade of staple must be used as cheap ones can rust if kept in a damp environment.

    One final point is that I prefer to frame all needlework behind glass to keep it clean and dust free, but it should not touch the glass. With method 3 I usually use a double mount (about 3mm thick) as an air gap. For methods 1 and 2 a clear 3mm spacer can be fitted to the glass edge that is hidden under the rebate of the frame.

    Hope this helps.



    • #3
      Thank you Roger for great advice plus the extra advice, VERY helful, I am hoping to make it into a Fire screen.


      • #4
        I have to be honest whenever I work on tapestry work I do not use a frame but rely on stretching it when I have finished.

        As long as you make sure that all the raw edges are covered - I use masking tape and although it will leave a residue there is usually sufficient clearance for this not to make a real difference.

        I am now off to PM Roger for advice about mounting knitting samples!



        • #5
          Originally posted by f.e.e. View Post
          I am hoping to make it into a Fire screen.
          Fee, are you going to use it just decoratively or with a fire. If with a fire you will have to make sure the back of the frame is well protected against heat. A simple way is to have the backing 2.5 mm mdf doubled up or use plywood. For full fire protection this should be protected with a number of coats of fire resistant varnish.

          Framers can provide cast brass feet designed for making a frame into a fire screen.

          Any further questions, feel free to ask.



          • #6
            Thank you again, I may even be tempted to make a start on my 'new project' soon instead of looking at it in the bag.
            Roger, I plan to use it only when the fire is not in use ( may to september, weather permitting in Scotland!!!!)

            I will no doubt have more questions when I am near to finishing it.


            • #7

              Glad to be of service. It is better to know the pitfalls before you start a project, than make a critical mistake that wrecks everything.

              Over the 33 years I have been framing I have been contacted by many other framers for advice on how to frame unusual items or how to correct their own mistakes with customers work.

              I always relish a challenge. Probably my greatest was to frame a jacket worn by a trader when they used to work on the Stock Exchange floor. Not only was it 3 dimensional, but he wanted it with a frame and glass on both sides so he could use it as a room divider. The whole job took 6 months as the first 3 were sourcing the right profile barewood mouldings and then re-machining some of them. I also had to develope a method to suspend the heavy jacket using various thickness fishing line - when finished it could be turned up side down without moving!

              So a fire screen is fairly easy.