For three months I have been looking for a picture I cross stitched 35 years ago. I had gone through boxes and bins in our storage room several times, an exercise that always ended in frustration and anxiousness when it didn’t turn up. John was a good sport and checked boxes in the garage again, even though we were both pretty sure that the picture wasn’t there.
Lasts week I found it—and as you would expect, it was right in front of my nose. I had stored it in one of the upper laundry room cabinets before our move to keep it safe—too safe, apparently.
I found it by accident as we were putting stuff away in the laundry room after the builder finished resizing one of the cabinets in order to make room for our refrigerator—which means we were oblivious to it when we took it out of the cabinet (it was wrapped in clean newsprint). How embarrassing is that?
Here is Chocolate’s companion:
I was new to cross stitching way back then and thought they were so cute. I had visions of them in my first apartment and they have hung in the eating area of every place we have lived since John and I got married. I still enjoy them and would never consider replacing them.
As much as I wanted to hang them, instead, John and I took them apart.
After our experience with John’s grandmother’s needlework, we decided to fix these two and one other—and be done with framing issues.
Sure enough, the same damaging techniques had been used: staples, masking tape and strapping tape.
The framer used masking tape around all four edges of the cross stitch fabric, most likely to keep them from raveling.
Holding the masking tape in place was strapping tape with a killer adhesive—one that did not fully come out after soaking and washing.
Skeptical, I applied some stain remover to the edges and then washed them in a mild dish soap and cool water, followed by lots and lots of rinsing (until the water was clear) to make sure all soap residue was gone.
The stain remover didn’t improve much, but I had to try.
I refrained from pressing anything because the framer will want to try her magic first. Here’s Chocolate ready to go:
Close up of stitching.
Here’s Ice Cream:
Close up of stitching.
After un-framing Chocolate and Ice Cream, we tackled one last picture: a sampler I stitched 19 years ago which was framed by someone other than the framer I use now. We uncovered more physical damage than expected due to heavy duty staples driven into the fabric, which had a loose weave to begin with:
The sampler was mounted on a piece of foam core which had been covered with a piece of polyester batting.
The batting was stuck to the foam core with spray adhesive, something my framer would never use anywhere near needlework. Instead, she secures the needlework to an acid-free board by lacing it across the back. This is a more labor intensive (and costly) technique, but much better for longevity.
Framing points were used to hold the board mounted with the sampler inside the frame, and one of them cut a nice sized hole in the fabric:
So much for the tedious hem stitching I did to keep the project from raveling while I worked on it.
The other surprise cropped up when I washed it. The picture doesn’t show the true depth of the color, but the water turned seriously yellow, like someone had peed in it.
Then John came in to show me the glass, which had a nice imprint of the stitched design on it, an indication that no spacers were used to keep the needlework from touching the glass.
Here is the sampler soaking in the washtub. You can see 19 years’ worth of fading here, showing how important it is to select a glass that offers UV protection.
When John saw the yellow water and examined the glass again, he wondered if the framer had starched the sampler. We’ll never know, but it might explain why this piece always looked so faded to me so early on. I always thought it was because of light exposure, but now I’m not so sure.
As bad as all this seems, I take comfort in the framer’s statement to me when she was working on John’s grandmother’s needlework: “I’ve seen worse.”
I’ve been off and on mopey since we had to leave Colorado and move back to Houston, but when stuff like this comes up, I am very grateful to have a reputable framer in my back yard. It will be a comfort to know that when these framing mistakes have been corrected, barring a fire or natural disaster, no more harm can come to these family heirlooms.