Today’s guest post is from the folks at Needle in a Haystack, my LNS. I am reprinting their recent newsletter article about what to look for in a framer with their permission. The article is in two parts. Part One is below. Part Two will be published tomorrow.
Jan at Bay Stations Accents has been in school in Scotland for the past year and when she comes back this year I don’t expect that she’ll continue her framing business. Given she’s be doing my personal framing for more than 30 years I’ll be very sad, as I’m sure many of you who are local are. On my to-do list is to find a new local framer to recommend but it’s way down my priority list at the moment. So instead I thought I’d write about how to find a good needlework framer. I’m not going to cover questions about their sense of color or style since those are general framing questions.
Even if you find someone who has been doing needlework framing I think you should always ask questions and if possible, see some of their framed needlework. I am a very picky customer when it comes to framing so it has to been completely square or I’m an unhappy camper. Jan’s attention to detail in this regard was very important to me. So, what to ask a potential framer?
What is the base they attach the needlework to? What are the other materials used?
I prefer acid-free materials when at all possible, especially what the fabric is being wrapped around. I do my own mounting these days and I use acid-free mat board glued/taped to acid-free foam core. I almost always use a colored mat under my work since white isn’t always the best option. Typically I use a dark green or dark blue, especially on pieces with open work. Any mat on the top of the work is also acid-free. And if I use glass, it’s Museum quality. Acid-free reduces any possibility of things leaching into your fabric over time. Sometimes I use a batting to give the underside of the needlework some depth (in place of the mat board under it). For that I use a good quality polyester or cotton batting. You can always ask a quilt shop what’s the best to buy if you want something more archival quality. Many framers won’t have used batting so might not be familiar with it – so it’s a conversation to have with them.
How do they attach the needlework to the base?
If they mention sticky backed board, run away, very, very fast. Granted it has it uses for craft projects, even for things like tiny ornaments, but if you’re spending the money on framing, do not let sticky backed board get near your work. Not only is it not good for the stitching to come in contact with it, over time it will lose its hold and the project will buckle. When we were first open 18+ years ago one of our now long time customers loaned us her Dutch Beauty sampler to hang as she didn’t have room. After a year we noticed the fabric was sagging in the frame so we had Jan take it apart to fix it. She came over livid that the framer had stretched this masterpiece of a sampler onto sticky backed board. Getting it apart was a job but one we were happy to pay her to do to thank the customer for the loan (thanks Anna-Marie!). My point is, sticky backing has a very limited use but not for good quality needlework.
My preferred method of attaching work to the foam core is stainless steel pins and I learned this from Jan. Stainless Steel doesn’t rust so you can safely leave it in the side of the work (they go through the fabric into the side of foam core). Very few pins are made from stainless steel, most are nickel plated. I use Dritz Silk Pins or Bohin Stainless Steel pins, we sell both but you can find the Dritz ones in many fabric stores. Even with the pins in the side I either lightly lace or use acid-free tape to hold the back fabric in place. If you use just lacing to hold the work, which you can do, it many times puckers the fabric and over time can do a serious number on the fabric due to the tension on it. So I like the stainless steel pin method for a permanent hold that won’t pucker. If they want to use tape alone it won’t hold over time as the glue will eventually lose its hold, so it needs a more permanent method.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
Ruth-Anne Cain says
Some years ago I made the mistake of taking s large stitched piece to a local framer who had done a very good job on some prints I had framed. But, and it’s a very large but, they did a very poor job on my cross-stitched piece. I now have an excellent framer for both prints and needlework (my local needlework shop recommended, and uses, them ) reframed and it looks great. Lesson learned.