the question of pins

It seemed like a good idea to mount my Theo Moorman samplers in box frames, so as to let them be as three-dimensional as they wanted. I googled some key words to see whether I could find some online guidance and — lo and behold — I turned up this post from Meg in Nelson where she reports on a workshop on exactly this topic. I’m not actually planning to make the frames myself, so the part that interests me most is how to mount the textiles and present them in the frame.

Confession: I am completely rubbish at lacing textiles over board. As a result, I hate doing it, avoid practising it and therefore never get any better at it. So I was intrigued that the method Meg used holds the cloth in place with T-pins. I would have taken this to be a preliminary step before lacing, but could it perhaps be the final finish?

I tried it out with a test piece, then I tried it again with the simplest of the samplers.

This reminded me that weaving squares and rectangles might be straightforward, but mounting squares and rectangles is not! At least, not if you want them to appear like squares and rectangles. Anyway.

I’ve been tilting the sampler this way and that to try and decide whether I like the look of the pins. Also to try and imagine whether the pins will actually be visible once the sampler is in a frame.

It has got me going in circles in my head. One line (or circle) of thought is that there is something appropriate about pins in the context of sampling: the test piece, incompleteness, work in progress and so on. But in a frame? Is that a contradiction or a celebration of craft-in-the-making?

Another line of thought says that I am just procrastinating because of my fear of lacing. I should buckle down and get on with it. But then I am also aware of the next step in the process: applying a piece of board to the back of the mounted sampler (steps 5 & 6 in Meg’s post).  The pins leave a clear space on the back of the foam board, where the lacing would be everywhere and potentially cause a problem. I don’t want the whole thing falling apart inside the frame.

At the moment of typing this I am in favour of pins and celebrating all that is temporary and contingent about them, but by the time I get to the full stop I may have changed my mind. Anyone care to share their thoughts on the subject? I’d love to know what you think about the pros and cons of pins, not to mention lacing, box frames and other presentational matters.

the question of pins” was posted by Cally on 22 July 2012 at

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9 Responses

  1. Meg in Nelson
    | Reply

    No more thoughts on the matter. I thought you were going to say mounting it on a wicker/wood piece as an option. (But not the whole stool.) That looks pretty good. Best of luck no matter what you decide, Cally.

  2. Geodyne
    | Reply

    It’s a brilliant solution for mounting evenly and well, but you shouldn’t think of it as an archival solution – temporary is a good word. I’d be worried about the pins rusting in the long term.

  3. Heidi
    | Reply

    I work part time at a craft shop in the framing department and we frame a lot of textiles. For a piece of fabric like yours we would do exactly what you did, though we usually use straight pins since they are less noticeable. If you don’t have stainless steel pins, rusting would be an issue, but we consider it an archive mount at the store. We also typically mat or frame the piece up to the edge of the fabric so it doesn’t matter if you can see the pins.

    If you are planning on floating it like Meg does, then you will see the t-pins, but I wonder if you could paint them white so that they wouldn’t stand out as much (not something I have tried)? Another way we mount fabric is to sew it to the foam board, but it is much harder to get squares to stay square when sewing.

    Do you have a scrap pieces of similar fabric? I just thought of this so I don’t know if it will work, but you could take a long, skinny piece of fabric, lay it over the edge so that you pin through it and your fabric and then fold it over the pin and secure it on the back. That would hide your pins and should give you a nice, neat edge. I’m not sure if I described that well. Send me an email if it doesn’t make sense and I’ll try the method and send you a photograph if it works.

    Good luck, it is a beautiful piece of fabric.


  4. Sandra Rude
    | Reply

    My thought is that if you can’t see the fastenings, who cares? I use a staple gun to fasten my jacquard pieces over a canvas stretcher frame, then Mike makes a frame into which I fit foam-core board, and the stretched pieces is fastened with screws (1 on each side) into the frame. The back is enclosed, the front is clean, and nobody in the world is gonna see the screws or staples. So don’t obsess over it. If it isn’t “archival” maybe that isn’t a concern for the consumer!

  5. Meg in Nelson
    | Reply

    Heidi, if one were to paint the pin, what kind of paint is archival? I usually and rather recklessly just use oil-based magic marker, but if you can recommend something less damaging, that’ll be great.

  6. Cally
    | Reply

    Wow, lots of food for thought here. I guess I am not sure what would constitute “archival” in this context. I made sure that the board, tape etc are acid free and the pins are stainless steel, so possibly the weakest component is the cloth itself. Though, as we’re near the sea (well, like most of Scotland, really) rust is always a hazard.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the cloth, Heidi. I’m going to give it some thought. I wonder about folding the edge of the fabric back on itself, pinning through the fold and then wrapping the rest of the fabric over the pins to the back of the foam board. It might be a bit bulky, of course, and a lighter weight fabric strip could work better.

  7. neki rivera
    | Reply

    does the work need to be stretched?
    i mount my work on plexiglass. fold the ends neatly,sew a hem and glue the piece with fabric glue on plexiglass leaving about 2cms “air space” around.the piece looks like floating on the wall.

  8. Cally
    | Reply

    Now that’s an interesting question. I realise that I don’t know whether there is a commonly understood definition of “stretched”! These pieces do need a certain amount of stretching in order to keep the square shapes more-or-less square, but I’m not treating them as I would a canvas for stitching, say, which I would want to have very taut. It’s a much gentler process than that.

    I like the sound of the plexiglass very much, but I am not sure I would be confident about using glue. I have some conservation grade double sided tape which I plan to use at the back to secure the folded over fabric, but I don’t think it would stand on its own without the pins or some other means of support as well.

    • neki rivera
      | Reply

      so far haven’t had probs with the glue, but i tend towards the kamikaze 🙂 i am famous for using blu tac as a temporary solution.

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