Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finishing Techniques for Felted Paintings

This weekend I am participating in the Birdsboro Art Show as an artist but also in a book signing event to promote my book and needle felting in general.  To see more about "The ART of Machine Needle Felting" book and CD see the left sidebar.

Here are some photos of the most recent felted art pieces that I framed with fabric and Gallery Wrapped Artists frames.

Morning Mist


Autumn Tree

I also put the two largest pieces I created this year up for sale at the show:


Bottle Study
When I first plan a felted piece, I plan on using the Gallery Wrapped Artists' frames so that the edges of the artwork fold around the sides and are stapled to the back. 

Gallery Wrapped Canvas Frames

Stapling Felted Art onto the Frame
You are probably wondering why I would use primed canvas instead of just buying wooden stretcher bars to mount the work.  Well, for some reason, the wrapped canvas is less expensive than frames without it or wooden stretcher bars normally used to mount textiles.  Also, the canvas itself acts as a foundation and stabilizer for the textile and I love the professional finished look it gives to the piece.
For the Bottle Study, I actually trapuntoed the bottles so they would be slightly 3 dimensional and the canvas behind the piece allowed the bottles to have something to "stand up" on, as opposed to thin air on the back of the piece. 

But there is one problem with this.  I always plan the art work so that 1  3/8 inches are added around the edges so that the piece will extend around the edges and I don't have to worry about borders.

However, when the piece is finished, I don't want to lose any of the edges and decide to keep them and put the whole thing on a larger frame.  That means I don't have enough art to go around the edges so I have to add some kind of border.  This happened with the Oleander piece.  Below is what I planned for the piece to be at the outset:
Original Planned Size
Then,  when it was finished, I didn't want to lose any of the edges, so I put on fabric borders and mounted it to a larger size frame.  I have read that cropping a painting is a good thing but I have yet to get used to it.  I did the same thing with quilts - I just couldn't cut away what was already there so that the finished piece ended up much larger than I planned. 
I am not yet at the place of mounting these into wooden finished fine art frames because I think textiles need to behave like textiles and not paintings.  I may change my mind in the future about this but for now I have begun to incorporated fabric borders and I think it makes them look much more finished and interesting.
After stapling the artwork onto the frames, I prepare a backing to cover the "works". 
Backing Pinned in Place

Backside of Artwork
I do this by using either a very stiff fabric that somewhat matches the front, or I use a fusible stabilizer to stiffen a fabric to use on the back.  I cut the fabric 1/2" larger than the frame and iron the extra 1/2" all around the edges of the fabric.  Then I place the wrong side of the backing to the back of the frame and pin it in place.  Because I am a quilter, I hand sew the backing to the wrapped edges of the artwork so it is finished and flat.  Then I nail the frame hooks in place and the piece is finished. 


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