Hanging Fiber Art: Readers' Questions
[Ed. - This column concludes a four-part series on how
to hang fiber works. Part 1 (Jan/Feb '02) discussed basic
principles for planning how to hang work, and parts 2 (Mar/Apr
'02) and 3 (Summer '02) focused on attaching work to the wall
and from the ceiling, respectively. During this series, writer
Bill Alexander has been answering readers' questions by e-mail;
here, we include a few.]
I am primarily a printmaker, and I've spent some time exploring
the use of wallpaper and fabric scraps as printing surfaces.
A problem that I have encountered comes from whether to hem
the edges or leave them as simply cut and sometimes slightly
irregular. Professional framers have suggested that the choice
will almost immediately change the classification of the work
from "fine art" (if not hemmed) to "craft/art" (if hemmed).
I would like to hear your sense of this predicament.
|Robert Schwieger, Hunter's Vest; screen-printed
monotype on fabric, wallpaper, and hologram materials;
constructed on foam board; 44 by 30 by 0.5 inches.
Your predicament says volumes about
the conceptual difficulties the craft media still face. Of
course, it would puzzle a Victorian that an unfinished edge
would seem closer to "art" than a "properly" finished one.
Presentation is important, certainly.
And I don't wish to denigrate the framer's trade, but currently
the packaging has sometimes taken over content. One might
argue that anything could be forced into the realm of high
art by a sufficiently important (or at least elaborate) frame.
I say, Do what looks good to you, and believe in your work
enough to hope they'll eventually get it.
I am a painter but have been doing some offbeat collage stitched
pieces in felt. The smaller felt pieces I have sewn to linen
and stretched over foam core board and put in metal frames
with glass. The work is unmatted and against the glass. I
am wondering whether there's a better way. My first choice
would be the acrylic plastic box, but it would have to be
the typical mass-produced kind as custom plastic boxes are
too expensive for me. The next idea is to use the shadow-box
type of frame that holds the glass away from the work. But
that seems to me to be too much frame for my work, almost
ostentatious. Do you have any suggestions?
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
|Helen Klaas, Felt Series; felt, yarn, shells,
buttons, pieces of a Guatemalan handwoven belt.
First, I feel the framer needs
to consider the conservation of a work as well as its look.
Conservators have told me that glass should not touch work,
particularly fiber work, as it will act as an acid over time.
Also, because of temperature changes, moisture will tend to
collect where the work touches the glass.
I have seen the commercial
acrylic boxes used to good effect. The key is to construct
a back to your work. One way is to build a backing of foam
core covered with mat board (or in your case, linen) that
exactly fits the box frame but leaves room for the work; sew
or attach the work to the front mat, and glue this constructed
backing into the box.
Another untraditional framing
uses a piece of foam core mounted on a thin piece of plywood,
with thin wooden strips on the back for attaching hanging
hardware. A top mat is attached to the foam core, and the
work is centered on that. Thus, all the viewer sees from the
front is a rectangle of mat with the work attached. No glass
is used, and possibly the thinnest of frames gives a minimal
look. Colored-core mats work well here.
[Ed. - Helen followed up with a note that she
found that foam core may be vulnerable to warping in humid
climates, but that a backing of 1/4-inch Masonite (fiberboard)
I am developing a project involving using inkjet technology
to print documentary photo imagery on a shawllike textile
that resembles a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. My printed
images are narratives and need to be "read" by the viewer.
My display options seem to be 1) to present the shawls as
though they were actually draped on a human body (which makes
the imagery hard to read, but retains the "shawlness" of the
textile) or 2) to present the shawls in a straightforward
manner, as undraped rectangles (which eliminates the "shawlness"
and the human element but is readily readable). Is there a
better way than using suspended dowels? If suspended dowels
are the best technique, what are my options for a minimally
exposed dowel? Can I make the garments seem to float, as if
there were no support?
One possibility is to get dowels in clear acrylic (or
Plexiglas) drilled in the ends and hung with monofilament
(i.e., clear fishing line) or even thin wire. A commercial
plastics house can supply the dowels and even drill them.
The rods and line would be somewhat invisible. Another option
is to find or have made Plexiglas (or even wood or cardboard)
silhouettes of human forms. Try a sales display company that
supplies boutiques and clothing stores. A third alternative
is to use sheets of plexiglass that are just larger than the
work; you could drill small holes and sew or tie the work
to the panels. This would be bulkier but would lend framing
to the tallit forms.
Bill Alexander is a fiber artist and writer
living in Morganton, Georgia.
This article first appeared online in:
This issue is SOLD OUT.