Board, not Bored.

I’ve been preparing some boards for mounting Samplers recently. The first one I did (seen in the pictures) came out pretty good. The second one (no pictures) came out even better! I didn’t get step-by-step pictures of the process, so I’ll try to describe it without getting too boring.

The process is time-consuming, tedious, and (pardon the expression) more than a little anal-retentive. First you measure the piece you will be mounting – in this case a Sampler that is roughly the size of legal-size paper. Then you cut a piece of 8-ply archival board that is 1/4″ in. wider and taller than the piece. Note: 8-ply archival board takes a LONG time to cut by hand with an exacto knife.

Board1Then you have to choose the fabric you’ll be using to cover the board. I don’t know all the details, but I know that fiber content is an important thing to factor in. You also want to find the color that will look best behind the piece. You want something that will match but won’t make the designs “disappear”. After trying out several different shades of beige and tan, we picked out a nice light beige cotton.

Preparing the fabric is important so that you minimize damage to the piece, and also so you don’t make yourself crazy trying to pin away the wrinkles. “Preparing” in this case means washing and pressing. There are many ways to do both, but I was limited by my supplies so I washed the cotton in the machine with Cheer (the only detergent I had) and dried it in the dryer (without dryer sheets or fabric softener). One risk of using a detergent with “brightening” effect is that it often puts a coating on the fibers that gives it the appearance of brightness. This can change how the color looks (not good for precise color-matching) and, in general, the fewer the chemicals touching the piece, the better.

As for pressing, the best option would be to press the fabric between two pieces of glass. Unfortunately, I don’t have any large pieces of glass that aren’t windows at my place, so I had no choice but to iron it. I made sure not to stretch the cotton as I ironed – I wanted the warps and wefts as close to perfectly straight as possible.

After the cotton was ready to go I wrapped it around the 8-ply board and started pinning. The idea is to tighten, pin, then tighten and pin some more. This took about an hour to pin (and then it still could have been tighter.) First I did what you could call the “center back” Board2seam. I then had to stitch it closed, which is hard to do when there are a zillion pins in the way. I made tiny “invisible” stitches with a tiny curved needle. It took a little while for me to get used to the curved needle, but I think I’m getting the hang of it now. I did the same for the “side” seams and stitched them as snugly as I could.

Like I said before, the first one came out OK, but on the second one I was determined to make it even tighter and make my stitches even smaller!

Perhaps I should take the fact that I care about this sort of thing as a good omen. I could be heading in the right direction…

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