best way to hang a batik tapestry?
October 7, 2014 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I bought a large batik tapestry hand-painted on lightweight canvas, with raw, unfinished edges. I'd like to hang it as opposed to frame it, but it has sharp creases from being folded in my luggage. I'm afraid to iron or steam it. What are some affordable options for displaying it nicely?

It feels like there is still some wax within the fabric (it is stiff/rough in spots) so I am afraid to iron out the creases, lest I mess with the design itself.

I'd prefer to hang it (though I'm open) as I suspect it is too large to frame (approx 5' wide by 4' long). It is a light canvas so if I hung it I would probably need some sort of weight at the bottom. Or perhaps have it stretched onto a frame, and then have the canvas framed?

Thoughts, recommendations on how to proceed? I've never framed anything but posters before.
posted by egeanin to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could have it stretched on canvas stretcher bars - which would require stapling. Might or might not need to be framed after that depending on how clean the edges are and how finished a look you want. Or go to a quilting place and look for brackets to hang fabric/quilts. That will be a pair of wooden bars that the piece is clamped between and hangs down freely. Or get one or two nice looking curtain rods and sew loops on top (and bottom if you like and hang from curtain hook brackets. To do that you can either get something like canvas/cotton duck to sew behind the fabric to make loops or just turn the ends of the fabric and sew to itself to make an opening for the curtain rod.
posted by leslies at 5:50 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've hung similar fabric art by sewing a rod pocket at the top and hanging it on a lightweight dowel. In your case you could sew pockets at the top and bottom and also use a dowel at the bottom to weight it down.
posted by drlith at 5:52 PM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've got some batiks. One smaller one was framed, one has a loop sewn in it at top and bottom with dowels, and two large one's (4'x4', 4'x5') that had backing cloth sewn on and then framed. If memory serves, the oldest two are 30 years old, the other two maybe 20. The framing was all done when I got them.

That being said, it's odd that there's wax still on it. By the last step typically all the wax has been boiled off to expose the crackle. Is the wax still in a pattern?
posted by Runes at 6:12 PM on October 7, 2014

Best answer: You're correct that ironing it would change the fabric, but it shouldn't affect the design. Ironing would melt the wax (if you do this, you should encase your piece in some ok-to-ruin plain fabric like muslin along with some unprinted newspaper-type paper to absorb the wax and hopefully not ruin your iron) but the actual design made by dye or paint should remain and be fine. However, it's hard to know for sure how heat might affect the rest of the piece without more information about how it was made and what materials were used.

I'd suggest asking Dharma Trading Co for some advice about the creases. They are the premiere supplier of batik supplies in the USA and would definitely know if there's some non-heating way to get the creases out. (I'm assuming the creases are a problem for you -- if not, ignore everything above!)

Once you've resolved the creasing issue, I agree checking with quilting places for ideas would be a great thing to do, and all the other suggestions above are good, too. Here's a PDF about an option using aluminum bars from Jane Dunnewold, a textile artist.

Also, for future purchases or for storing this one if you decide not to display it for now, the best way to store/transport fine textiles is to roll them neatly around a heavy-ish cardboard tube (like a mailer tube, or else ask fabric stores to give you leftover bolts from upholstery fabric and then cut them down to size with a saw). Wrap them up with a plain cotton cloth (like a sheet) and add another sheet for extra protection, then secure the wrap using ties made of strips of cloth! That's what I do for all my handwovens.
posted by hansbrough at 6:21 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My husband and I have some large tapa pieces his grandmother got in Samoa in the 1950s. They are super delicate and we were worried that hanging them would stretch or damage them, but they are too large to be framed. Our solution was to hang them on a line attached to the wall with decorative clothespins. That allows us to rotate them every once in a while so no one edge bears the brunt of the hanging weight.
posted by Brittanie at 7:29 PM on October 7, 2014

Response by poster: All fantastic answers. Thank you!
posted by egeanin at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2014

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