Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Washing screen frame

Washing screen frame

From: Adam Jenkins <spalted>
Date: Monday, May 22, 2000
I have recently hit upon a fairly inexpensive way to build a frame
for a paper washing screen similar to the sort that used to be
available from Dick Blick.  It's made out of an ordinary metal
sectional frame. They are constructed as follows:  Order Nielsen
frame profile #55--or any brand of cut-to-order "double channel"
frame profile.  Double channel profiles are the ones designed to
keep the artwork separated from the glazing.  [The Nielsen web site
has drawings of the profiles if you want to see what I mean:
<URL:>.  They also have a handy
frame shop finder that will help you find the nearest distributor of
their products.]

I chose Nielsen because they are nearly all cut-to-order--the frame
shops buy long lengths of frame stock and custom cut to your
specifications. The reason custom cutting is important is that you
have to request that they cut the bevels *backwards*.  This puts the
channel (that would ordinarily hold the glazing) on the outside edge
and provides you with a place to affix the screen. Conservation
quality plastic screen is available from TALAS
[]--and if you know of another source please email

Assemble the frame as usual and cut the screen about 4" too big in
each dimension (providing 2" per side to hold onto).  Also cut four
pieces of screen cording about 2" too long for their respective
sides. [for this I used standard cording--I think it's cotton and
it's coated with something to increase friction--I haven't tested it
to determine actual composition. I wouldn't use the rubber
cording--it degrades fairly quickly on its own. I've also
experimented with standard nylon cord but with mixed results [you
have to oversize because it tends to slip out of the channel under

The method for stretching the screen is much like stretching a
canvas. The screen is laid over the frame and a piece of either 1/8"
or 3/16" (depending on the thickness of your screen of choice)
screen cording is forced against the screen into the channel at the
middle of one edge. Do about a 2" length in the middle of the side.
Once this is seated in the channel, the screen is pulled taught and
a piece of cord is applied to the middle of the opposite edge.  The
same is repeated at the ends so that the screen is held taught from
the middle of each side but the corners are still loose.  Then,
working in one direction, press to cord in, an inch or two at a time
on each side, until you reach about 1/2" from the corner.  Then
proceed from the center working in the opposite direction.  When all
but the last 1/2" from the corners are done, trim the cords to
length, pinch and fold over the corner of the screen, and force the
last bit of screen into place. Check to make sure everything is
tight and trim the excess screen.  The result should be a tight
screen on a fairly rigid frame.

Things to keep in mind:

It's easy to get too tight at the corners and cause the frame to
twist (like a potato chip).  The way to avoid this is to align the
screen warp parallel with the side of the frame and the weft
parallel with an end, then use them as guides.  Overall, this will
help you to see distortions in the weave pattern.

Also, be careful with your measurements when you talk to the folks
at the frame shop.  They're going to want to know from where to
where you want them to measure.  I arbitrarily chose the maximum
overall length as my length. This resulted in a smaller working area
but it seemed the easiest way to avoid misunderstanding.  Also on
this count, I'd say just be sure to order two frames at once--that
way, no matter what the dimensions you're sure to have two frames
that match (I learned the hard way on this one).

Any questions, please feel free to email me

Adam Jenkins
First Year Conservation Student

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:59
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 25, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-59-002
Received on Monday, 22 May, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]