A Unique Solution to A Unique Challenge by Judy Schuster

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When designing the pleated three-dimensional tapestry “It Depends On Your Point Of View III” (ATB-I), I anticipated that an armature would be needed to hold each folded section in position. I wove in metal rods at each fold location to facilitate the folding, and planned to hold each rod in position with the armature. Although I had some preliminary ideas, I wanted to evaluate the completed tapestry before deciding on the armature’s type and form. After removing the tapestry from the loom, and folding, then lashing the back rods together, I discovered that the tapestry folds held in position quite well, and would not require an armature. The piece was very heavy so the challenge then became how to provide a sturdy hanging device.

I prefer to present tapestries as directly as possible; thus no hems, no lining, and a hidden hanging device. With most tapestries I use wood molding strips, from1 1/2” high x 1/4” deep x the width of the tapestry, up to 3” x 1/4” x width. I staple Velcro© to the wood strip, which has been sanded and painted with Varathane© so that wood acids cannot damage the tapestry. I learned this technique while doing textile conservation for a museum. The Velcro© strip’s mate is hand-sewn to the back of the tapestry. Screw eyes are installed in the top of the wood strip, so it’s easy to transport and hang the tapestry. When I want a tapestry to hang in free space and be viewable from both the front and back sides, I use an “in your face” hanging device I’ve designed — a Lucite bar drilled vertically so monofilament can be sewn through the tapestry’s top edge and threaded through the bar, and back and forth. I like that the drilled holes and threads echo the warp lines. Alternatively, I’ve presented multi-media pieces in clear plastic boxes, again using monofilament to suspend the tapestry within the interior space of the box.

My choice for “It Depends…” was the wood and Velcro© system. Because it would be installed in four venues, the hanging device needed to be sturdy, reasonably easy to install, and repeatable. But I knew that the 1/4” thick wood strips would be woefully inadequate for this piece, and also felt that a substantial wall support would be desirable.

A very creative artist friend, Jacqui Ross, who taught textiles at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), recommended the solution. A wider and deeper wood strip (approximately 3” high x 3/4” deep x width of tapestry) was used at the top of the tapestry and attached with Velcro©, but the bottom edge of the wood strip was beveled. A complementary bevel was cut into a second piece of wood of the same size; that piece was attached to the wall with screws. Then the tapestry with its wood strip was dropped into the supporting (wall) piece. This solution provided evenly distributed support across the width of the tapestry and was easy to level. Because the wood strip was deep, a same-depth but narrower-height wood strip was attached at the bottom of the tapestry, again using Velcro©, both to provide additional support, and to hold the bottom the same distance from the wall as the top.

After seeing the tapestry installed, I recognized the desirability of having the wood strip painted the same color as the wall — didn’t think of that, and guess I would have to be psychic to anticipate wall color at each of the venues. Live and learn!

Judy Schuster, "It Depends on Your Point of View III" 36” x 25”