Painted Bedsheet


WOW Framer
Jul 24, 2001
Buffalo, New York, USA/Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada
I know this is dangerous territory, but I am contemplating the prospect of helping a friend who has this huge painting, done on a bedsheet, and he wants to display it, after dragging it around for 20 years.

This "painting" is done by a now-famous artist/musician - it is acrylic on cotton (or maybe poly-cotton (I have to get a good look at it) - and the paint was mostly thin enough to have soaked through so it is fairly difficult to distinguish the front from the back. Every square inch of the thing is covered with paint.

The outer size is 77x88 - and my thoughts would be to have my friend (who is a great woodworker) build a strainer (braced) at his house and then I'd go over there and do some sort of gallery wrap. It is not the kind of thing I could do at my shop because we'd need a U-Haul to move it! There will be no outer frame or glazing. just so happens I have a chunk of unprimed cotton canvas that size - and I am thinking either prime it to stiffen it, stretch it onto the strainer, pad with quilt batting and stitch the sheet onto the whole thing, or......

maybe wash the canvas really well to remove the size and then stretch and etc.....

Or use unbleached muslin over polyflute with quilt batting?

And maybe seal the strainer with shellac/polyurethane or Lineco tape?

The painting is in pretty good shape with the exception of a couple of "L" shaped tears and one edge that has a tear. I thought I could stitch them down to the batting.

Any ideas???

My friend really wants to display this item but obviously we wish it no harm. The painting is an all-over wild design of flowers so any side could be "UP" and I think this would make the display easier because he could rotate it to prevent sagging and the thing is large enough he could lean it against the all at a bit of an angle also.

He showed this item to me years ago and never decided what to do - now he is married and settled down and into the nest-building phase of his life - so, in keeping with the avian analogy - the bird has come home to roost!

All of the steps you have outlined make sense: washing the canvas/muslin, sealing the strainer
wood, and stitching around the perimeter of the
sheet. The client should know that acrylic paint
has holes in it, even when it is applied in a thick coat, and staining it into cotton will leave
lots of openings into which grime can settle and
having such a surface in proximity to growing
children... one can only imagine. Hanging this item as high as possible is one thing that can
be done to keep it out of harm's way, but ideally,
it should be framed with glazing.

Thanks, Hugh - luckily my friend's kid is grown (he is settling down later in life!) - so rugrats will not be a problem (until grand-children come along - yikes!).

Plus I spoke with him yesterday about where he was planning on displaying this and he said his GARAGE!!! Ye gods! I am talking him OUT of this notion for sure - even tho his garage is heated and under his house.
Please remind him that most garages have highly
variable climates and atmospheres full of noxioius
fumes, which are likely to settle into his painting.

Don't worry, Hugh - that painting will only hang in his garage over my cold, dead body!!! (which would probably ALSO give off vapors!!!)

I have some frasming to deliver to his house in a few weeks so I will personally choose a proper location for his huge masterpiece and I will have you know I can be VERY persuasive - especially if I get his wife on my side! LOL!

Garage - snort!!!
I would think that we may be missing a very huge point here in our rush to preserve.....

Being what it is and painted on what it is, would qualify it as a "wasting art" piece...

maybe thumbtacked up in the garage IS the correct place for it.

Do we know how long the artist expected it to last?
I know a lot of artists who don't have any expectations of their art outlasting them - but in the quirky world of art one can never tell what is going to become valuable. When a group of us framers toured the conservation department of the Art Gallery of Ontario in the eighties, the head conservator was tearing out her hair about the conservation of a suddenly valuable piece of art which consisted, as I dimly recall, of a huge piece of fake fur with all kinds of paint and glitter and nail polish (MIXED-UP media) thrown at it.

You raise a terrific point, Bro' Baer!
Originally posted by Baer Charlton:
...Do we know how long the artist expected it to last?
That's a good question, but the answer may be unavailable. Perhaps there is a more important question: How long does the owner expect it to last?
Good one, Jim!

I have been thinking about this whole question/accusation that we are trying too desperately to "SAVE" everything to the nth degree with our acid-free/zeolites/Mylar,museum glass, etc.

Here is what has just dawned on me in this regard. Since there are so few of us (both c/p framers and conservators) and since such a miniscule percentage of the earth's population come to any of us for such services, therefore we shouldn't really worry too much about all these mountains of stuff that we are preserving for future generations - it is merely a drop in the bucket of what is going bye-bye every minute and hour and day!

End of musings...
When Picasso was starting out and sat days on the Left Bank whacking out drawings on news print... he also knew that the news print was fragile and was slowly burning itself up...

To heat the flat, he would turn on the oven to 200 degrees and stick his drawing pads in the oven..

It gave them a "toasty" look, and accelerated the decomposition of the paper.

He wanted the pieces to crumble and go away, so that when he was famous... there wouldn't be all these early drawings around.

BTW: he signed them Picasso PB. the PB stood for Pot Boiler.. it's what kept him fed.

There is also a whole movement of artist who do "Wasting Art"... that is NEVER intended to be concerved or preserved.

I have three large istallations of wood sculptures that have defined directives as to how they are NEVER to be touched or moved indoor...

Last year I heard that Carpenter Ants had taken over my "mother with child" ..... and in a warped way, was getting an abortion.. The guy loved the fact that he would live to see the entire life of his sculpture.. amazing.
"Wasting Art!" Good grief!

I can't even part with any of my art, so I am the absolute last person to discuss this matter - I think I must have the c/p gene somewhere in my DNA -

Plus: once the customer buys the art - does the artist have any rights to say the customer can't try to preserve it???

Wasn't it Dali (or maybe Picasso) who kept trying to sneak into galleries and re-touch his paintings??? And getting thrown out?

A customer who buys "Wasting" Art, buys it specifically for that reason... that it won't remain the same... it is always changing.

I just saw Othello. I was done by a street group. Start to finish took about 10 minutes... and was all done in Rap....

and I hate Rap... except, with this [besides being very funny] you get the modern interpretation of the story and people almost at sound bite speed and the under-laying shadings and moralisms are brought to the surface and become more straight foreward.

the two main characters also rapped out Mid-Summers Night Dream for us in about 2-3 minutes...straight rap, no actors.. except their own gyrations and poses...

It's funny, as they would take a very typical pose or stance and Rap movement, I could also see very classical Shakespearian posing .... I wonder if Rappers study Shakespear??