Picture Framing and Art Preservation/WWII drawing on cloth

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Question
My dad has 3 drawings done by WWII POWs from Japan.  These were done with colored pencils on cloth, probably bed sheets.  The drawings were folded and stored in the attic for about 50 years so they are not in the best shape. One in particular has brown spots on the fabric.  Nonetheless, we would like to have these framed and preserved because of their historical significance.  Where do we start in determining how to get them framed and how to protect them from further damage?

I'm also interested in having the Japanese words translated, but that's probably a question for someone else.

Thank you!

Answer
Wow, these are certainly not your every day pieces of art. In addition to the sentimental value they must have they are historically significant and sound like something that a museum would be interested in.

Because of their value, rarity and condition I would strongly advise asking a fabric conservator to evaluate them and, if advised, perform work to stabilize them before framing. Otherwise they could be damaged no matter how carefully they are framed. To find a professional conservator near you visit the AIC website at www.conservation-us.org. On the right-hand side of the page you will see the Find a Conservator link. You can enter your area and specialty (textiles) to get a referral.

Considering their age, storage conditions and the fact that they were folded I'm sure the fabric is rather brittle, especially along the fold lines. A conservator can safely unfold them, flatten them to some extent and remove most of the creases. Then the fabric can be cleaned somewhat and reinforced so that it is strong enough to be framed.

When they are framed makes sure your framer will not use any kind of adhesive on them at all. If they mention tapes, glues or staples find another framer. Also be sure to use UV filtering glass or acrylic to slow future damage and ask your framer to use 100% cotton mats. If you could send me your general location or zip code in a private message I can refer you to a framer.

And as for getting the Japanese translated, there's a good chance a conservator may know someone who could translate it, or you could check with a local museum.

Please let me know how this progresses; I'd love to see how they turn out.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
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

Education/Credentials
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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