Tessa Spanton SWA Artist, tutor, writer


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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mounting Silk for Framing

              Orchid and Lily Tulip silk paintings (c) Tessa Spanton 

Over the years I have tried lots of different methods for mounting silk for framing. I prefer to use a method which means that the silk could be removed later if necessary.

 Which methods have you tried and what worked best?

Mounting Small pieces

I sometimes use this method for small works. It works best for pieces of silk under about 10in or 25cm
Lay the silk onto a piece of mount board. Secure with small pieces of a good quality adhesive tape. eg Sekisui tape from Jacksons on Amazon click here Don't use ordinary sellotape or cheap masking tape. 
Start in the middle of one side. I have numbered the first 4 positions for taping. Then work out from each of these points gently stretching the silk till their are no wrinkles.

Wrap the silk around to the back of the mount card and tuck in the corners, secure in the same way with small pieces of tape or use a needle and thread to lace as described below.

Mounting larger pieces

This is the easiest way I have found. 
You will need
Mount card ph neutral or better still conservation grade mount board  for backing the silk painting and for making the mount from.  Antique white or ivory usually shows the colours off to their best.  Framers sometimes sell off cuts of mount board and even brightly coloured ones are usually white on the back.

Acid free double sided tape about 1/2-1in wide  click here for an example or even better get acid free conservation grade click here

fig 1 above  Silk stretched on a frame. The image comes within the central square. The rest is spare silk which will be under the picture mount. 
I once left so little border on a large painting which made it impossible to mount properly using any of these methods. I went to a framer who dry mounted  the entire image using  conservation grade materials. an expense I could have avoided with more border.

After you have fixed the work, re-damp it, stretch it back onto the frame and leave it to dry. The image would come up to within the central area.
If you have used iron fix paints and metallic gutta you can skip removing it from the frame to fix. Just turn the frame over and iron the work on the back.

Fig 2 above  For the backing cut a piece of mount board a little smaller than the inside measurement of the silk painting frame and stick double sided tape just inside each of the four edges. 

This can now be stuck to the back of your painting and the whole thing removed from the frame. Fold the spare silk round to the back of the board and fix with  more double sided tape. Fix the picture to the mount using double sided tape.
I wrote about this method for the Guild of Silk Painters Journal back in 2007. 

 Lacing the Back
I use this method occasionally, it works well but is time consuming.
 Stretch the silk over a piece of mount card, no double sided tape is needed so the picture can be brought to the edge of the backing and the spare silk turned to the back for stitching. 
Temporarily secure on the back with masking tape and tuck in the corner.

Start in the centre of one side securing a strong thread with several backstitches.  Take it   across to the opposite side, stitch through the silk then return to the other side again pulling the thread taut, repeat until you reach the corner. You will need to rethread your needle several times and tie the new thread in. When you reach the corner leave the thread loose.
Start again at the centre and work towards the opposite corner. Do the same with the other two sides. Adjust the tension till even, stitch the corners and finish the loose threads.

Or use acid free foam core,  lace with fishing line and reinforce each hole with PVA glue

'Fall Out Method'  aka Newberry Method
I learnt about this from Stephie,  a friend with a Folksy shop, click here to see one of her silk paintings mounted in this way. She has just started silk painting. I have just tried it and it worked well.
I used 5mm acid free white foam core cut larger than the mount aperture. I cut an aperture a little larger than that of the mount. I placed the silk on the fall out piece and put it back into the aperture. I found it needed some tape to hold it. I cut the aperture on an angle but it could be done with  a straight edge. A layer of polyester wadding could be placed on the fall out first under the silk. The whole thing then goes under the mount.

Other methods
Neither of these methods will give such long lasting results.
1. Silk paintings can be mounted on adhesive mount board. This is usually used for posters.
2. Small pieces can be ironed onto freezer paper.

When mounted the work can be put into a picture frame. It is better to have a small space between the glass and the silk otherwise small amounts of condensation could encourage mould to grow on the silk. A picture mount will do this job.
  Make the border width 2-3in.  For a larger picture ( eg over 20x24in ) make it 3- 4in.  The lower border can be made a little wider by adding another 1/4  -1/2 in. This is more important on larger pictures as without it the lower border can appear smaller than on the other sides

If you prefer to frame without a mount, glue small strips of mount card under the rebate of the frame to create the gap between the silk and the glass. It is a bit fiddly but should be invisible from the front.


Anonymous said...

Great article Tessa, it's really handy to have a summary of the different techniques in one place.

I hadn't heard of lacing but it makes perfect sense so I think I'll try that on my next one...when I get some dyes and silk of my own to play with, that is!

And a big thanks for the mention too :)


Threadpainter said...

Great tutorial !
I still find 'lacing' the best technique and I use the tedious time to get a lot of 'thinking' done.
My work (my canvas) can be up tp 3 layers thick (very hard to get a needle through) so I make sure that my finished piece is just a 1/2 inch bigger all around than what I need and that the backing material is at least 1 inch bigger than that ! I make sure that the canvas is securely attached to the backing fabric and then I lace through the backing fabric (muslin).
Not sure I've made this as clear as I could ?
Anyway, great subject !

Colours and Textures said...

Thanks for your comments and to Threadpainter for the useful information.

Jersey40 said...

Thank you for posting such an informative article. I purchased a Large silk print (surfing scene) for my teen daughter. I didn't know how "large" it actually was, and the superior quality of the silk, until I received it home.

I'm handy; and didn't want to spend the money for a professional to frame this for us.... with the help of your post, I knew exactly how to handle the issue, and it worked out well. Thank you again for the information!

Colours and Textures said...

Hi Jersey40
Glad the post was helpful and well done that it turned out well. Thanks too for your comment, it is lovely to get some feedback.
This is the most viewed post on my blog with 8577 views and I often wonder if people have found it helpful.