Picture Framing and Art Preservation/framing batik


I have a batik piece from Togo.  I think I want to frame it by pulling it over a wooden frame.  It has been folded so I first have to get some of the fold creases out. Can you tell me how to prepare and then frame it? Is this called "putting on stretcher bars"?

Hi Sally. Batiks can be handled in a variety of ways, depending on the look you're going for.

Before you do anything you'll want to get the creases out, both to make it look better and make it easier to handle. The good news is that they're usually done on fairly durable cotton fabric and considering that they're boiled during their creation, they can take heat. So don't be afraid to iron it.

The thing you have to be careful with is the fact there is a lot of wax left behind in the fabric. So get multiple (something like ten) pieces of brown kraft paper larger than the batik. Put about three layers down on whatever surface you'll be working on, lay the batik down and the cover it with more paper. Iron through the kraft paper. The wax will melt and soak into the paper. Keep switching out the paper and ironing until most of the wax is gone and the fabric is soft and supple.

It could be stretched and stapled along its perimeter like a work on canvas, but I think I would shy away from that. I don't think it's necessary and I'd be worried about the long-term effects of stapling. I'd probably stretch it like a piece of needlework:

First cut a piece of acid free foam board to size, a bit smaller than the size of the fabric and giving yourself about an inch or more of fabric to wrap around to the back. You don't mention the size of the batik, but if it's much larger than 16x20 or so I would use a sturdier board. You could do this very easily by attaching making a sandwich by attaching a layer of mat board to the foam board on either side. It will be quite sturdy.

Now place the batik on the board, centering it and positioning it where you want it. At this point it may be helpful to use some binder clips or clothes pins to hold it in place temporarily. Then start in the center of a long side and pin through the fabric into the foam center of the board. Use silk pins, about one inch long with a round, flat head. Stainless steel would be ideal although they can be hard to find.

Then go to the center of the opposite long side and gently pull the fabric until it is slightly taut and pin the fabric. Repeat for the two short sides. Now place two or three pins on either side of the center pin, about half an inch apart. Repeat for the opposite long side, then do the two short sides, and so on. Your pins will radiate out from the centers, gradually working you way to the corners. Make sure the fabric is slightly taut and straight as you work.

Once you're done fold the corners neatly and place pins through the excess fabric at a shallow angle into the board to keep it in place. With that done it's ready to go into a frame.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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