Silk Thumbtacks

Silk Thumbtacks

Thumbtacks to tighten silk are a staple that sometimes goes unnoticed for being so obvious, I guess. In the first comment of this series, "Three tips to start painting in silk", I talked about the importance of tightening "to the point" the silk, and to achieve it, the tacks are necessary.

I clarify that I mean silk that has not been hemmed, that type of garments are NOT tightened with tacks, but with a different kind of frame. I confess that I have never painted a garment that already has the hem done. Therefore, I cannot say anything about it. In my experience, I have only known two tack brands to tighten the silk, and I will talk about them.

ASSA Thumbtacks

The first characteristic of the thumbtacks to tighten the silk is that they must have three legs; in this way, when stretching and tensing the fabric, you will not tear it. What would happen if you thought of using paper tacks (one-legged). The brand that existed in the market and you could either buy in Shop Text Ponsard or Dharma Trading was ASSA.

And they were THE thumbtacks. I still have three boxes of a hundred pieces that I take complete care of to date. The sad thing is that the brand disappeared several years ago, and what I found in Paris was the brand Lus.

Mondial Lus Thumbtacks

This brand does not meet my needs; I prefer not to use them.

The first issue was when the burr on the head of one of them tore the silk. A small oversight in the finishing of the tack generates great damage in the raw material in which it is used. I call it a "careless" finish. And it’s not a single tack that has this detail... it becomes quite uncomfortable to review the material before using it because it may not fulfill its primary function, in addition to permanently damaging it. The photo shows the part of the tack that can rip the silk.

The ASSA thumbtack (right) has an even edge, and in all these years, I have never had such a problem. Then I should mention the quality of the material, the size, the height of the legs. The following photos will help me explain my points.


This photo shows the size of each one: Mondial Lus (left) is smaller than ASSA (right).

In this one, you can see that the ASSA (right) is higher than the Lus (left). How does this affect the process? In my case, as my frames are made of wood, two things can happen: 1) The thumbtack does not fit enough into the wood and is "thrown" when receiving more tension. 2) The paw is folded before even entering the wood, and the thumbtack becomes a thumbtack of two or three uses. While the ASSA thumbtacks have lasted me more than thirty years and more than a hundred silks.

This last photo confirms the previous point; by putting both thumbtacks on their head, you can appreciate the height of the paws (ASSA -right- and Mondial Lus -left-) and the thickness.


Apparently, The Clay and Paint Factory already sells three-legged tacks. I haven’t bought them yet, as soon as I do, I will gladly share my experience.

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