Friday, May 17, 2013

How to make a hanging scroll

In my last post I mentioned that my new print, "White Violets," will be presented as a hanging scroll. It occurs to me that some people might benefit from learning what I have discovered about making these scrolls.

But first of all, the WHY? The answer is easy - the art looks better. There is no glass and frame to confine the art and separate the viewer. Plus, it is much cheaper than framing, and the scroll is light and therefore easier to handle, ship, and store.

OK, now for the HOW. I start by printing my digital drawing on Premier Generations Satin Canvas, museum grade, which I buy in 17" rolls. I use an Epson 4000 with Epson Ultrachrome Ink (archival). This is indeed an old machine but it still prints beautifully and has never needed a repair (knock on wood!) I print 15" wide on 17" canvas, and if my image is wider than that, I print it in panels cropped so that there is a 1/8 inch image overlap on each panel.

The picture below shows how I add guide lines to the image file so that I know where to crop. The red line indicates where the center panel will be folded under. The aqua line shows where to crop the center panel so as to maintain the 1/8 inch overlap, and the green line shows where to crop the left panel.

Here's a close-up that shows the colored lines, which are not in the final print, and the light grey fold lines, which do print and show me precisely where to fold the side hems and top and bottom rod pockets. In the lower right corner, a diagonal grey line is visible. This tells me to taper the hem inwards so that when the pocket is folded, the backside of the pocket has no chance of sticking out the sides.

I also print this little vertical mark at the top and bottom edges to show me where to fold the center panel side hems and where the center panel should fall on the right and left panels.

I air-dry the prints for 30 minutes and then put them between sheets of acid-free paper for 48 hours so that the glycerol in the ink can be absorbed.

Next comes the process of varnishing the prints, which makes them lightfast and resistant to moisture and air pollution. I use a water-soluble varnish, PremierArt Eco Print Shield, diluted with 20% distilled water, and I pour the mixture into a housepainter's tray through a fine sieve (to remove any congealed varnish that may have dried on the inside of the plastic container). I apply it sparingly with a 6-inch foam roller. It is important to move very quickly and to roll only once over any part of the surface because the ink can dissolve into the varnish and smear. I ignore any missed spots, which I can correct during a subsequent coat. Drying time between coats should be at least 30 minutes. I generally apply 2 coats of varnish to the back of the canvas and 5 or 6 coats to the front. The thicker the varnish is on the canvas the less likely it is to crack when folded. The varnish takes a week to cure completely.

"White Violets" is printed in 3 panels. After the varnish is cured, I fold the vertical sides of the center panel under, positioning the fold 1/8" inside the printed image so that the image wraps around the fold and the edge is hidden. I put the center panel face down and paint one of the folded edges with LinecoNeutral pH PVA Adhesive. I paint the corresponding margin of one of the side panels, which is face-up, with the same adhesive. I tape a double strip of canvas to the back of the center panel to prevent a dent along the seam when the print is weighted.

This picture shows the double strip taped in place on the right side of the seam.

Then I turn the panels face up, protect the surface with wax paper, and place a 2-ply strip of matte board to the outside of the seam, again to prevent weight dents. These two types of spacers make a level surface for the weights.

I center a 4-ply strip of mat board directly on top of the seam to distribute the weights evenly.

Then I put my art library to excellent use as gluing weights.

That last strip of mat board I mentioned prevents the gap between the two piles of books from showing up as an uneveness in the seam. I let the glue set for 24 hours.

The picture below shows a side hem tapered inward as per the guideline in the second picture at the beginning of this post. As you can see, I cut a small notch in the hem to make the tapering easier.

Once the center seams and side hems are complete, I fold the bottom rod pocket as shown in this picture. I have found that a two-fold pocket holds much better than simply folding the bottom up once. I use the edge of the fold to draw a pencil line as a guide for where to place the glue and then put a second line 1 inch lower as a parallel glue guide. I paint glue on both surfaces of the seam.

Again I add a last strip of mat board to prevent the gap between the two piles of books from showing, pile on the books, and let the glue set for 24 hours.

The top rod pocket is created using the same method. Here is the back view of the completed scroll.

And - tadah! _ here is the front view.

In my next blog post I will describe making the rods. That needs to happen soon as this print was accepted into the "A Community of Artists" show juried by Katherine French at the Danforth Museum, Framingham MA, and needs to be delivered by next Friday!