Lacework on silk?

Conservation Issues

Lacework on silk?

Postby barefaced framer » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:38 pm

Having searched on this forum and other places without success, please could anyone help with the following.

I have a lacework circle to frame for a customer and decided to attach this to a piece of material before
using a top mount set it off.
The problem is that the customer wants the lacework mounted on grey (as close to arquadia charcoal colour as possible) and I am having difficulty finding cloth which is 100% cotton in any grey.

What is the opinion of any of you as to using silk, as I have found a grey silk but am not sure of the conservation issues of using this rather than cotton.

Hoping someone out there can help me. Believe me I need it!
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby Roboframer » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:47 pm

Silk is natural - OK the dyes may not be so, but then nor may be the dyes that colour cotton.

Polyester is man-made - but that would also be good. Biggest problem could be, if sticking any fabric to a mounting board, the adhesive used to do that.

If you are using a 'top mount' - how close to the image will that be? Will it be so close that you won't really be able to tell that the piece is backed with any sort of fabric? If so then why not just use that Arqadia board?

If you were floating it and using a spacer and no top mount, then the fabric would be a feature, and in that case you could sew extenders to the fabric of your choice and lace it around your mounting board - in fact you could do that anyway.
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby barefaced framer » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:01 am

I didn't mention that it is a ring of lacework about 1 1/2 " in width all the way round probably 12" total diameter


I have bought the silk for the reason that it is natural, but something on the internet (sorry don't know where, the boss looked it up)suggested that silk has natural acid in it which was why I asked the question.

I intended to lace the silk but could, as you suggest, add extenders if needed.

Thank you for the reply though, will see if anyone else has any thoughts before powerpoint presentation to the boss!!
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby huntvambo » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:25 am

I too have recently read in "Framing and Presenting Textile Art" by Annabell Ruston, in the Donor Fabrics section:

"Not all fabrics are pH neutral: for example, silk has a high acid content, so when framing silk it is advisable to use lawn or light cotton as your donor fabric".

So presumably it's not advised to use silk as a donor or backing fabric :!:

Probably doesn't help you much but if in doubt...
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby Roboframer » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:49 pm

Some quotes from respected conservators .......

"Some natural materials that emit potentially harmful gases are: rubber, wool, and to miniscule extent, silk. All give off sulfur and this is especially harmful to silver. Woody materials can emit peroxides and some acids, which would mean that they can stain paper."

"Silk is a protein and, like all proteins, is slightly acidic and likes a neutral or very slightly acid environment -like between ph 6 -7.
Neutral, rather than alkaline buffered contact materials (tissue, matboard) are recommended for protein materials (gelatin, wool, silk, leather...)"


(This was in reference to a wrapped window mount)
"......... the silk, itself is not very acidic, but the things that are added to it to make it shine and hang can represent a problem. Keeping the silk away from the art with a layer of mat board is a good idea, as it is with most fabrics."


"Both leather and silk are proteins and by themselves, they are fine. Residues from the tanning process and finishing materials added to silk can make them more dangerous to use and that issue must be addressed before either is used in a preservation setting."


So - 'most fabrics' can outgass, therefore if it's only the colour that is important and not the look of fabric (not there would be any 'look' with plain grey cotton) why not just use alpha-cellulose mount board, this could be wood or cotton alpha cellulose; no difference in the protective properties (which sort of blows away the FATG's 'Museum' level of framing)

But if you do want cotton, Nielsen Bainbridge do four greys in alpharag artcare, so you'd have zeolites working against any acids in the lace too!

The colours and references are ..

Dove Grey - 8643 (Light)
Black shadow - 8669 (Charcoal)
Moon - 8685 (more of a slate colour)
Natural grey - 8659 (Charcoal)
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby John » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:46 pm

Anyone more interested in the science of conservation amy find this not totally unrelated article of some interest.
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Re: Lacework on silk?

Postby barefaced framer » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:44 pm

Thank you to all for your replies.

On reflection, I will go back to sewing the lacework onto mountboard, which was the intial idea.

Seems like it's not just the customers who sometimes go round the houses only to go back to the original idea.

At least I learnt something along the way.
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