Starting a New Scroll and Finishing Another: My Process


Sometimes the first step:
I see something that I love and try to make it into a background. In this case I’m starting with a very special piece woven by my mentor from the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, Milton Sonday. He needle-wove the entire piece long ago on a large frame he made. It’s plain weave and gauze; woven with singles wool. He gave it to me a few years back and I had no idea how I could use it. I ran into it the other day and thought of a background but it was too big. Then I checked to see how it would be if I folded it in half—success! I loathe to cut things and certainly could never cut this. Since I want everyone to see the 4 selvedges, I put the fold on the bottom and the selvedge-edges on top in plain sight. Now it measures 23 ½” x 36”—a good scroll size. I hang things temporarily (mostly) with clothes pins and often on a hanger. I bought 50 of these black hangers and 2 big packages of clothes pins. I’m on my last 25 hangers. Then it’s easier to see what I’ve got.

Other times the first step:
And sometimes the art comes first. This is a piece I brought back from Japan.

Next is the first ironing:
As with this piece, things have usually been folded for a long time. This piece of weft ikat we got in Japan in the 60’s when I didn’t know a warp from a weft. It’s part of a futon cover. I know that because of all the lint on this side of the cloth from the stuffing or lining that had been inside. Lots of pieces available are pieces from covers like this or from kimonos that have been taken apart and sold in shops or flea markets. I love ironing because it transforms the cloth so dramatically. The wool piece above had lots of fold wrinkles so I steamed it one night with a wet press cloth. Then I let it dry flat overnight. Oh, yes. The motif on the futon cover piece is a bag of money to bring money to the user.

Next is deciding how to hang the background:
I use the piece in the previous post as my example because I haven’t decided yet how to hang the wool gauze piece with it’s two edges of cloth. I have a supply of wood from the lumber yard about 1” wide and ¼” thick that I cut when I want a stick on the top. In this case it showed too much so I wrapped it with some of the background cloth and wrapped some flannel inside that for padding to keep the two layers separated for the moire. I used monofilament instead of the temporary safety pins. I use it a lot for hanging things.

Next is deciding how to attach the art:
In this case I used French knots I made with sewing thread. They show but don’t call attention to themselves. I imagine them as the heads of pins.

Then do all the work!
And a final iron. I hate to see any wrinkle or pucker. I bring the ironing board out into our 8th floor lounge by the window a lot.

2 thoughts on “Starting a New Scroll and Finishing Another: My Process”

Leave a Comment