Tapestries add deep color and rich texuture to your home, but before you buy one you need to know the right way to select
and care for a tapestry. To find out the basics about selecting and caring for tapestries Meghan Carter of http://www.AsktheDecorator.com visited tapestry artist Pamela Topham.
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Meghan Carter: Tapestry’s are a unique way to decorate your walls. Some would say that it’s like painting with yarn but tapestry artist do not want you to think of it that way. They want you to see the beautiful weavings. The way that it adds texture and warmth to a room but before you can do that, you need to know how to choose and care for tapestry which is why I am here today to visit tapestry artist Pamela Topham.
I’m hitting the road searching for answers and finding great design. It’s a quest for beauty, function and of course inspiration.
When you’re looking at tapestries, how can you tell that one tapestry is really high quality and another one is maybe poorly done?
Pamela Topham: Particularly, if you were looking at it, it should look firm and strong. It shouldn’t be sort of wobbly and then it should lie fairly flat. It’s not a painting and it is—sometimes it can have a little more movement than a painting. They might if they are—these are mounted but if they were free hanging. They might have a little bit of a ripple because they are woven. I think that you would look at the imagery in the same since you’d select any kind of art, that it’s an image that you want to live with that can caught your interest for more than a moment. It’s not like, “Oh! What a funny face and what a great”— I know when I look a lot of art, I think that something is very clever but I might not want to live with it everyday because once you’ve gotten over the cleverness of it is it’s still interesting. So, it should be very interesting. It should engage you in the subject and the composition and then in terms of the quality, I think it’s just mainly you want to look at a firm, well-structured piece which you should be a little identified. It’s good to look around at a lot of different pieces and then you’ll get a feeling for it. I mean if you went to the west and you’re looking at Navajo rugs and you look at a variety. You’d start seeing that some are finer. They are more finely woven. And you start looking at how the yarns are joined to get a feeling for the fineness of it.
Meghan Carter: When you think of the best quality of tapestries, what type of – I guess what do they use in those?
Pamela Topham: I think wool and silk are the most common. And there are tapestries that you’ll see especially at the metropolitan museum and other places and they can be 500 to 600 years old. So, they do have longevity. They do require some care. They do require a certain amount of upkeep and care.
Meghan Carter: How do you care for a tapestry?
Pamela Topham: It’s in how it’s hanged. You don’t want to collect a lot of dirt. There are ways of cleaning the tapestry. Basically, you can use a screen like a window screen and you can vacuum over the screen to get surface dust off.
Meghan Carter: Oh that’s clever!
Pamela Topham: Yes, I think that was clever.
Meghan Carter: That is very clever.
Pamela Topham: That you don’t want to directly vacuum and you could pull ends out of the tapestries. You’ve might certainly have little things falling out and you wouldn’t want that.
Meghan Carter: Oh that would be nightmare.
Pamela Topham: They did—I guess this is about four years ago. They cleaned the unicorn tapestries at the metropolitan museum and that must have been an event with the textile department there. So that in that case they were in water. You can put them in water. They are wool.
Meghan Carter: Because they are fabric?
Pamela Topham: Yes.
Meghan Carter: Just like you clean clothes?
Pamela Topham: Yes.
Meghan Carter: But it’s much more delicate.
Pamela Topham: Yes, I mean there is something that over time if they got—these are tapestries. These are 400 years old. So, that is an undertaking. So, I have cleaned a few tapestries for people when they’d move them around the light or maybe they shouldn’t be near advent where they could be joining dust or something. Basically otherwise, it’s like you care for your painting. You don’t want a painting in direct sunlight.
Meghan Carter: Right.
Pamela Topham: And then when you see things in a museum, its