Thin Chinese Silk -- Help!


Cliff Wilson

Ok, I've read old threads. But, I am not sure how to proceed. I read the "Chinese Painting Conservation" web site that Alan Sturgess refered to in another thread, Chinese Painting Conservation , but I am hopeful there is an easier way???

This isn't an old "valuable" piece.

Customer brought in a 28 x 50 chinese painting. It is a VERY thin silk. It is not backed. It was just brought back from china.

A friend had two done at another frame shop, and he liked them so much he had them bring him one back. It is not backed or mounted on anything. From his description the other shop wet mounted them to a board. That would scare me if I wet mounted at all.

Customer wants a mat all around and expects to lose 1/4" or so.

Can I stitch to a rag backing board?
Originally posted by Cliff Wilson:
...Can I stitch to a rag backing board?
You can, but in that size, I think an acrylic sheet backer would be better. I'd cover a piece of acrylic with muslin or polyester felt, and then lace the hemmed edge of the silk art to the covered acrylic mount board. The acrylic may be the same as you would use as glazing, but doesn't have to be clear.
Jim, are you recommending acrylic because of expansion/contraction issues?

"cover a piece of acrylic" -- how? (ie. mounting method)

Jim, I just took another look at this painting. The "hemmed edge" is less than 1/8" and it is only on the top and bottom.

Does that change your recommendation?
Cliff, this is an easy one. Your going to need Yes Paste and a three inch, short nap paint touch up roller.

Use a piece of four ply rag in a shade that will look good behind the silk. Mark the area on the board where the painting will be. Do not trim the board to the size of the painting, it has to be about three inches bigger all the way around.

Put a glob of Yes paste on a piece of cardboard and roll it out with your roller. Apply an even coat onto the four ply rag. Sight across the paste and look for lumps or globs of paste, even everything out.

Now the fun part, your going to have to move right along at this point, no interruptions. Take a sheet of uncreased Kraft paper and smooth it into the paste, just like your mounting it. Make sure it is completely down and smooth. Now, peel the Kraft paper away from the paste and lay your painting evenly and smoothly onto the thin film of Yes Paste that remains on the board, then cover it with a sheet of uncreased Kraft paper, making sure it is larger than the board. Place it into your cold mounting press for at least five minutes. After that, remove the Kraft paper very carefully and you are done, it's mounted. Make sure you do not bend the board until the paste is completely dry, even then, try not to.

This, by the way, is the best way to mount any thin fabrics you may have to deal with, including fabrics on fabric covered mats.

One final thing, Yes Paste is a non curling vegetable glue in the event you can not locate that brand. Larson Juhl does sell it though.

Originally posted by Cliff Wilson:
Jim, are you recommending acrylic because of expansion/contraction issues?

"cover a piece of acrylic" -- how? (ie. mounting method)Cliff
Acrylic is good because it is (A) non-invasive & OK for preservation, (B) relatively lightweight, (C) easy to acquire and cut to size, (D) plenty stiff & sturdy.

If you want to use JRB's suggested method of mounting with YES paste, you can still use acrylic as the mount board. However, if it is ever destined to become "an old valuable piece", then any kind of adhesive mount would reduce its value.

I'd prefer to lace it, and having no hem may be a problem. How about hemming it first? The covering I suggest may be wrapped over the acrylic board, so that it softens the sharp edges -- which, by the way, must be sanded smooth in any case. The cover would be held in place by the laced artwork.

As an alternative, you could stitch the artwork to the afbric first, and then stretch that over the acryic board. For a large item, that's what I'd probably do.

Also, be sure to use mats or spacers to create an air gap of at least 1/8" away from the glazing.

Our shop does this type of art all the time using pins and acid free foam. You need to sell the customer on the need to have an opening in your mat that is at least an inch smaller than the size of the art (will the mats cover anything in the art that it shouldn’t?) so you can stretch the silk on a board at lease 1/2" bigger than the opening of the mats (so the mats can have at least ¼” around to keep the art from falling through the opening).

The stretching needs to be done with pins (we use nickel coated tailor pins) every 1/4" around the foam going in to the edge of the foam and through the silk. Be careful not to snag the silk as you do, and don’t pull to tightly on the stretch or it will be noticeable.

Then when you put the mats boarder on the art, build up with foam to the edge of the mats and put an acid free mat board behind the entire thing.