View Full Version : Wrapping Blocks with Fabric

01-22-2017, 11:28 AM
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Original Post Date: 17/1/2016

Hello colleagues,

I need to wrap several exhibition display blocks with fabric. Do any of you have an illustrated or an online video/tutorial on how to best do this. I'm a wiz at wrapping Christmas presents, but when it comes to wrapping blocks withfabric,i stink.

I plan to use Ethafoam (1.7 density) for this project (Objects resting on objects are lightweight).Shouldi add Foamcor or matboard to the bottom of Ethafoam block, as a surface that fabric can be stapled or glued onto?

Many thanks in advance for your advice.

Noel Valentin
Permanent Collection Manager


Hi Noel,

I have never seen a video, but that is a good idea. My advice from some experience with box wrapping is to go with denser e-foam. 4lb or 6lb will give you crisper corners. The low-density stuff will collapse under the fabric tension and will have unsightly rounded edges. Stapling will be easier. You could glue the fabric using Lascaux or one of the other heat bonding glues (filmoplast R, e.g.). Then there are no seams or folded over fabric, just a trimmed corner. I found the results here mixed with some people really excelling at it and others just not able to make it look perfect. (an aside: does anyone know if Stitch-Witchery is archival?)

A lot of the result will depend on the fabric, which should be a balance of weight, weave and give. Surely theses have been written about the best fabrics for object display! You want a middle weight fabric, with a tight weave and some give to stretch it taut. Oddy-tested, maybe. Probably.

My one tip if you are folding and stapling that will give you super smooth sides is to use a rectangle of2-ply board on the flap ends. Hmm, that makes no sense without more explanation! When wrapping a box you are going to attach the fabric across one dimension first, right? Call that the east/west axis. Start in the middle and work out, back and forth across the east and west. Once you have stapled your fabric to the corner, you notice how much extra fabric you have to hide if you wrap it present style. You need to cut off some, fold some under and staple it, right? But that fabric telegraphs through the finish surface. Cut 2-ply board about 1/16” smaller than the size of the north/south ends of your box, lay it down on the fabric and see how it much fabric will need to be cut so that the board is wrapped but covers all the other folded fabric.

As I read this I can see it probably does need a video or photos. If I get time I’ll try to do some and send them along unless someone beats me to it.

Steve Briscoe
Chief Preparator

10-04-2017, 09:59 AM
We often wrap in-case furniture or panels with fabric mounted to Instabond-C. You'll most likely need access to a graphics press to apply the adhesive to the fabric. I doubt this method would be durable over time when applied to ethafoam blocks.


T. Ashley McGrew
10-05-2017, 12:09 AM
This is interesting. I am not clear though, you mention the use of a graphics press, is this a heat based adhesive or is it pressure sensitive? There isn't specific mention of testing for the product but typically a polyester carrier combined with a pH neutral acrylic adhesive would seem to be an desirable combination. There are different methods to prepare PE foam for adhesion could make it a viable solution for a bunch of folks. I like the idea that the polyester carrier could "clean up" the application and help to minimize the familiar "unsightly rounded edges" that Steve mentioned. Since this is a "way-back" post, bridging the list-forum gap due to the initiative of PACCIN Publications Committee member extraordinaire Chloe Grey, I would just like to put in a request to Steve to help put together some the instructional material discussed. PACCIN is at a point where we are focused on generating the kind of video content that will support our peers in the work that we all do. This would be an awesome contribution to that effort. What do you think Steve, would you be willing to help develop some instructional material? It could also be integrated with some other related work dealing with display case, materials and design that are currently in the works. This is good stuff.

10-05-2017, 02:14 AM
"Is this a heat based adhesive or is it pressure sensitive?" Pressure. A press will allow you to apply the adhesive to the fabric easily, without wrinkling or distorting the fabric.

The SI's MCI has tested Instabond-C, although I don't have the results before me.