[HNW] Re: slate frame

Chris Laning claning at igc.org
Sat Nov 26 11:34:28 PST 2005

There are supposed to be two advantages to a slate frame (besides the 
fact that it's historically accurate).

One, you can stretch your fabric very, VERY smooth, even, and TIGHT, 
if you take the time to do so. It doesn't take me two hours to set it 
up -- maybe half an hour or so -- but then, this is one place where 
I'm _not_ a perfectionist.

Two, you can set your project up _without_ putting a lot of stress on 
a delicate fabric. To do this, you first stretch a background fabric 
on the frame, then carefully stitch your project fabric down in the 
middle of the background with closely spaced stitches. In most cases, 
you can then work through both layers of fabric, or else you can 
carefully cut out the backing fabric in the area where you are 
working. (My limited experience with this is that it's tricky to get 
your project stitched onto the backing absolutely smooth and even, 
but I've certainly seen other people do it quite successfully.)

The disadvantage is that with a true slate frame -- basically four 
flat pieces with holes -- you have to have a frame that's bigger than 
your project. You can't roll your fabric around the bars as you do 
with a roller frame and work on just a small section at a time. For 
professional embroiderers, of course, this is not a problem, since 
the frames are relatively inexpensive and not hard to make. But for 
those of us who embroider as recreation, and who want to carry a 
project around with us, it does get awkward. This is one reason I use 
the roller-bar type of frame for most projects. (My advice for those, 
BTW, is to decide on one brand and buy new sets of parts as you need 
them, since they are interchangeable -- I think I now have 
half-a-dozen sets of side bars and the same number of rollers of 
different lengths, so I can make frames of many sizes.)

With the commercial slate frames held by pegs that I've seen, the 
major disadvantage is that the little pegs that hold everything 
together are frightfully easy to lose. On the large custom frame that 
I had made, the pegs are pierced with a small hole so I can use a 
length of strong thread to tether them to the frame. That way, if 
they fall out of the holes they are still attached and I can just put 
them back in. :)

This custom frame is a large "industrial strength" frame that I use 
to demonstrate period needlework. It's probably bigger and tougher 
than it needs to be, but anything I use it for is DEFINITELY not 
going to get warped or uneven. A local woodcarver made me three sets 
of flat bars in different lengths, two sets of side bars that the 
flat bars slot into, and two stout three-legged trestles that the 
frame can rest on. I gave him the drawings in Diderot's Encyclopedie 
(1762) to work from:

I can testify that it's awkward to carry around or set up, but as a 
frame it works very well. And of course it looks very authentic too! 


O    Chris Laning <claning at igc.org>  -   Davis, California
+     http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com

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