In my last post, I wrote about vintage posters. Now it’s vintage fans. Though I rather feel they should be referred to as ‘antique’ because they are for sure, more than 100 years old.
A few weeks ago, I had an inquiry from a new customer (a referral actually, always the best way to get business). The lady in question, was looking to get two very beautiful and very delicate, ladies’ fans mounted and framed. Both family heirlooms, the lace fan, dating back to the mid-19th century, handmade in Brussels, was to be mounted onto a silk background and the hand-painted paper fan (mid-17th century) onto a complimentary coloured board. All fine so far.
We then began to look at mouldings. She was pretty sure she wanted gold or metallic finish of some sort, but the thing we had to consider was the depth of the frame, as the fans, particularly the lace one, had very large fittings on the handle. The frame would have to be deep enough to accommodate that. As we spoke further, I realised that what she actually wanted were frames shaped to follow the curvature of the fans ie semi-circular at the top. Hmmm, not so fine any more.
After scratching my head for a while (and a bit of chin stroking, like what arty people do), I told her that unless she had an unlimited budget it was nigh on impossible. To do that sort of thing properly would of course involve steaming the wood into shape and would require the expertise of a carpenter or cabinet maker. Not something I could do. I felt that they would work equally well in straight forward frames and taking into account the complexities (and expense) of her initial idea, she agreed.
After much scouring through catalogues and presenting her with a number of options, she decided on a distressed silver finish, flat faced moulding for the lace fan and a similar antique gold finish for the painted fan. Both deep rebate from Frinton Mouldings. My client supplied the silk for the lace fan and we selected a suitable coloured mountboard for the paper fan.
Materials chosen, the first stage of the job was to attach the fans to their relevant backings. The silk was pinned onto foamboard then, using a perfectly matched thread, I sewed the lace fan into place, using as few stitches as possible, whilst ensuring it was secure. The tricky bit was the tassle. My client had said that she was happy for it to hang loose, but it looked rather messy, so again, using almost invisible stitching, I wove the thread through the individual strands and then secured the whole thing with a light covering of – hairspray! Elnett of course.
Next thing was to cover mountboard fillets with the silk in order to raise the fan from the glass and create the effect of a box or casket. That done, the easiest part of the job, was making the frame itself which all went smoothly, until I came to assemble the elements and quickly realised that the deep rebate frame, wasn’t in fact, deep enough!
More scratching resulted in the decision to build up the back of the frame with wooden fillets that I finished with pewter wax to blend in nicely with the main frame. I didn’t want this back frame to be too visible when viewed from the sides, so I made it slightly smaller and positioned it about 10mm in from the outer edge of the main frame. It worked perfectly.
The final part of the job was the addition of UV glass to protect the delicate lace from the harmful effects of sunlight. I was rather chuffed with the result, as was my client, who has since contacted me to say how delighted she is and how good they look on the wall.