I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were simply stunning. Last week, I saw two pieces of artwork in the library which set me thinking about whether you could successfully frame textile art behind glass.
They were lovely mixed media pieces – mainly stitched (embroidery) works of art with some collage items- paper and film incorporated into them.
I went back a couple of times to admire them because they really had a bold presence in the collection of “art prints”.
Yes, that’s exactly right!!! “Art Prints”!!! That was the collection in which I found the works. Let’s just say, without a doubt, I knew these were not art prints.
The textures are undeniable. Even behind glass! There is absolutely no way they could be prints. And I made sure I let the librarian know that. Upon checking the computer entry, she confirmed I was right. They’re originals, alright.
But what intrigued me though, was that on closer examination, I realized the works were created in 1972 and 1973 by an artist called Carol Dixon (more about Carol later).
The age was interesting but what was even more interesting to me is that the works are matted and framed behind glass.
The advice I’ve always been given about presenting textile artwork is “not to frame textile art behind glass”. So, you can imagine how much my curiosity was piqued to see a 40 plus-year-old textile work still looking bright and vibrant behind glass.
Interesting Textile Art Display Options
Textile art presentations can take on different forms. And for me, my personal preferences are stretching textile art over wooden frames or finishing the edges with facings. But when I saw how poignant the textures and vibrant the colors of these two works were behind glass, my mind started racing. There’s no doubt in my mind, that I’d appreciate my work presented this way.
Framing makes them look very professional and adds a perception of value to them.
Knowing me, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether to frame textile art behind glass or not. So, I decided to do an in-depth research on the topic: “should you frame textile art behind glass or not”. That way, I could finally put this question to rest once and for all.
But before we get to the conclusions on whether to frame textile art behind glass or not, let’s for a moment talk about the woman whose work started off my curiosity – Carol Dixon.
The Artist – Carol Dixon
Carol’s work is vibrant, dynamic, bold and full of life. She creates embroidery collages with mixed media and she also does oil paintings.
On Carol’s website, she talks about how she started her journey into the textile arts. She explains that her Russian-born grandmother was the one who taught her to embroider.
Later, she moved from embroidering tablecloths and towels to her own form of embroidered collages where she incorporates found fabrics, papers, objects, and photo fragments into her work.
This part of her story really endeared her to my heart because it reminds me of my own beginnings. I bought my first sewing machine because I’d taken an order to monogram handkerchiefs for a family friend.
After that project, I played around with embroidering towels, baby stuff and other things. Then finally, I decided to put my sewing machine to more creative uses and as they say, …, “the rest is history”.
The second thing that makes me love Carol Dixon’s work is what caught my attention in the first place – the vibrant colors. I love her color choices. You all know how much I love bold colors and Carol does a fantastic job with them.
Visit Carol Dixon’s website to view her work. They’re fabulous. The photography is great. It’s well worth all of the 1 minute 25 seconds it takes to view her slide show. You’ll also notice that she frames her embroidered collages in a unique way. They are all presented in circular mats and ultimately framed behind glass.
How to Decide Whether or Not to Frame Textile Art Behind Glass
So that brings us back to the question, “Should you frame textile art behind glass?” Carol Dixon does it and she’s been doing it for decades. Why shouldn’t you?
Here are the noteworthy points from my research. Before we get to that, let me define a term you’ll see often – “glazing”. Glazing means to fit with glass or glass-like material. That is to say “to frame behind glass.”
Now to the research results: According to the conservators at the Textile Museum at The George Washington University, there are 4 things you need to think about if you want to frame textile art behind glass.
4 Things to Consider When Deciding to Frame Textile Art Behind Glass
- Location: Where will the textile artwork be displayed? If the work will be displayed in direct sunlight, then it is recommended to frame textile art behind glass.
- Size: How large is your textile piece? If it is larger than 4’ x 8’ it will be difficult to find glass bigger than this size. Moreover, a large piece of glass will add to the weight of your work, making it challenging to transport. If you’ve got smaller pieces, then you can frame textile art behind glass.
- Environmental Control: What are the conditions where your work will be displayed? If dust, dirt, and smoke are likely to be in the environment, then it is recommended to frame textile art behind glass.
- Drape: Often textile works are wavy and have three-dimensional form. If this character is of importance to you, then do not frame textile art behin-d glass.
No artwork, no matter the medium, whether textile or otherwise should ever come into contact with the glass (or glazing material).
First, let’s look at how to choose your glazing material. The conservators at The Minnesota Historical Society give you these glazing options.
3 Glazing Choices to Frame Textile Art Behind Glass
- UV Filtering Plexiglas
- Ultra Violet (UV) Filtering Glass
- UV Filtering Non-Glare Glass
The advantages of Plexiglas are its lightweight and the fact that it’s non-breakable. It’s got some disadvantages though. Its electrostatic properties can pull loose strands of textile fibers to the inside of Plexiglas frames.
Now let’s move on to how to prevent your textile artwork from touching the glazing material (glass or Plexiglas).
Before we do that, let’s answer the question of why no artwork should ever touch the glazing material (glass or other framing material).
How to Frame Textile Art Behind Glass Without Destroying the Textiles
“In high humidity, mold can grow in areas where the glazing materials come in contact with the textile. Additionally, salts contained in the textile can transfer to the glass, absorb additional moisture, and cause increased degradation of the textile” ~ The Textile Museum
For the above reasons, you need to make sure the glazing material doesn’t touch your textiles.
And now, here are two materials you can use to prevent the glazing material from touching your textile artwork and destroying it.
Two Materials to Separate the Glazing Material from your Textiles are:
- A window mat (like those used in mounting prints and as shown in Carol Dixon’s work)
- A Plexiglas® spacer constructed into the frame.
A conservator or your framer can help you decide which method would be the best for your specific textile.
So here you have it, my friends. You can frame your textile art behind glass if you want to. Granted, it involves a lot more considerations and may be pricier than your current method of presentation. But the simple fact is, it can be done very safely. Just make sure your work doesn’t come into contact with the glass, and your mat and backing boards are acid-free.
Moreso, if you do like the look and the perception framing gives your work, then there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t do it.
If you’re interested in other options for presenting your textile artwork, in a polished finish, check out Facing Art Quilts: Simplified.
I must say I’m so glad I happened to come upon Carol Dixon’s work in the library. I got to see the work of a very talented woman and was inspired to go learn so much about alternative ways of presenting textile artwork.
What is your favorite method for presenting your textile artwork? Do you frame your work behind glass? Will you do so now that you know more about it?