Describes the design of a form on which to support the preserved textiles making up the doublet and trunk hose worn in the 16th century by Don Garzia de’Medici. Because it was important to preserve the shape of the costume as well as its fabric, a torso, arms, and legs were created to display the conserved suit. Using dimensions extrapolated from design units of the garments to create a pattern, conservators fabricated a complete calico copy of the clothing. This helped specify the shape of the supporting form, which was stitched together of polyethylene sheeting (Ethafoam), a lightweight, flexible, and chemically inert material, and then mounted on a frame.
Part of a special section on King William III’s apartments at Hampton Court Palace, England. The writer provides an account of the restoration of the textiles that form the palace collection, concentrating on the aftermath of the 1993 fire at the palace. While the conservators have always had to ensure the continued stability of the textiles while using treatments suitable for public display, the exigencies of fire damage presented a need for new measures, both short- and long-term. The writer goes on to outline some of these measures.
In 1684 Members of the Royal Society of London discussed the nature of a type of woven cloth described as incombustible linen, or salamander’s wool. It was an attempt to explain scientifically the phenomenon described in many cultures over more than 1,500 years, of a cloth which could be immersed in fire and emerge, not only unburnt, but even cleansed. Such cloth is known to have been woven using fibres from the mineral asbestos. This paper explores the evidence for the historical use of asbestos fibre in woven textiles before its rediscovery and commercial development for fire protection in the nineteenth century.
Discusses the survival of textile swatches (often with accompanying documentary evidence) in Languedocian archives. These swatches include samples of English textiles.
The writer discusses the preservation of the vast collection of 17th-century royal upholstered furniture at Knole House in Kent, England. Although the National Trust has taken great care to preserve the rare old upholstery, there is growing evidence that it has been subject to many interventions in the past. This suggests that in the late 19th or early 20th century, the old textile covers were repaired and some even renewed, but that this was done in a sympathetic manner that respected the antique appearance of the surviving pieces, with similar old fabrics found and reused to patch up what had survived.
The National Museums of Scotland owns an important collection of flags relating to the 17th-century Scottish Covenanting movement. This report explores the opportunity these historic textiles present for combining curatorial documentary research with object-based analysis and investigation. The written word was of great importance to the Covenanters. They saw themselves as ‘People of the Book and the Word.’ The flags carried by Covenanting regiments in the wars of the 1640s-50s and 1670s-80s were characterized by the widespread use of written mottoes and religious motifs. It is possible to argue that some of these motifs and texts can be traced back to a seminal original: the ‘Thrissels banner’, a Covenanting propaganda document of 1640. The links between the Thrissels banner and the other flags in the collection are explored. A program of conservation of the Covenanting flags for display has stimulated this current research. A vital part of the conservation treatment is the importance of retaining the quality of the motifs and the issue of their ‘enhancement’ to enable better interpretation by the visitor. Two examples, the Garscube flag and the Avendale flag, are used to illustrate the importance of combining curatorial research, conservation methods, and ethics to ensure the preservation and enhance the interpretation of these historic textiles.
Nineteen samples, taken from a 17th-century Glovers’ dance dress (Perth Museum and Art Gallery), were analyzed for fiber content and dye. Eighteen of the samples were found to be silk; the nineteenth linen. Using x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, researchers looked for the presence of indigotin in the blue and green samples and of madder, kermes, or cochineal in the red and pink samples. The results of the dye analysis were not entirely in keeping with the 17th-century date of the costume. However, the samples containing the anomalous indigodisuphonic acid appear to belong to mid-19th-century repairs.
In 2004 a textile conservator made a toile of an early 17th-century blackwork jacket. This pattern was taken from the original, an extremely fragile and rare garment. At the same time, a dress historian reconstructed a late 16th-century underbodice based on textual and visual research. When the two independently created ‘replicas’ were brought together, a different understanding of the function and shape of the original garments was formed by the way the replicas related physically. The fields of textile conservation and the history of dress are complementary, interdependent, while sometimes remaining distinct yet parallel. This case study demonstrates how the intersection between extant garments and bibliographic sources can raise questions for both fields about the value of using replicas as a research tool and about how the work of conservators and makers of replica garments benefits from greater mutual interaction.
The author details two costume collections in National Trust properties that are not well known by either the general public or costume historians. They are at Smallhythe Place, the home of actress Ellen Terry, in Kent, and Springhill Manor in County Derry, Northern Ireland. She describes the history of her involvement with these collections beginning in the early 1960s, when she was a conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. These collections were cataloged, properly stored, conserved, and prepared for display. The need for proper care of objects, but also for knowledge of the objects’ history is stressed.
Discusses the origins of different types of fibre, their preparation into threads, and manipulation into lace. The physical properties of silk, linen, and cotton threads are considered, together with synthetics, metal threads, and rarer types of thread.
The proceedings of a textile conservation seminar held in 1987 at the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique (IRPA) in Brussels, which cosponsored the seminar with the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). The 15 papers published in this volume focus on treatment of western European tapestries and ecclesiastical embroideries, mostly from the Renaissance period. Most papers offer recent treatments of important historic textiles as particularized case studies, while some of the papers address broader topics, such as the comprehensive conservation program for textiles at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The MODHT (Monitoring of Damage to Historic Tapestries) project has investigated the history, composition, and deterioration of metal threads with a textile core. Metal thread manufacture was investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and characteristic deformations established on historic and ‘model’ metal threads. Examples of triple-wrapped silver gilt threads were observed in 16th-century tapestries. Scanning electron microscopy energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and depth profiling secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) were utilized to analyze layers, alloys, and corrosion products. Accelerated tarnishing tests were performed to determine the influence of wool and silk degradation on the formation and composition of corrosion. Metal thread and foil was analyzed by SEM to establish the morphology of corrosion due to natural and accelerated aging.
A detachable pocket and a baby’s cap found in an 18th-century house in Abingdon, England, are examined. These textiles were found concealed in a wall cavity alongside a collection of objects that includes coins and trade tokens. The centuries-old practice of deliberately concealing objects within the structure of buildings seems to have been a worldwide tradition that has several explanations, including protection against evil spirits. This seems to be confirmed by the presence of hops filling the wall cavity in which the objects were found in Abingdon, as, during the 18th century, hops were believed to have protective and healing properties. Both the pocket and the cap are in a style typical of the first half of the 18th century, and both suggest lower-class origins but with aspiration toward a higher status. The writer goes on to describe the conservation treatment applied to the pocket and the cap for short-term display and long-term storage.
This report considers how the velvet chemise binding on a mid-16th-century royal indenture has been damaged as a result of the manuscript being used and stored. In addition, it assesses the significance of the various components and describes how these influenced the conservation treatment that was carried out to stabilize the binding, so ensuring continued access to the text.
The materials and construction of a rare and remarkably well-preserved 17th-century state bed are described and its conservation is outlined. The bed was reassembled for the first time in 15 years as a rehearsal for its installation in the British Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2001. The benefits of the rehearsal are evaluated. The risks of reassembling the bed with its fragile textile elements are assessed, and the measures needed to minimize handling and protect the original materials are described. The planning process for the rehearsal was a valuable collaboration between conservators, curators, and technical staff and yielded much information about both the history and construction of the bed.
The book contains three sections, the third of which forms the largest portion. The first section, ‘Dyeing with Natural Dyes’, comprises the history and principles of textile dyeing. The second section, Identification of ‘Natural Dyestuffs’, outlines primary analytical techniques used in the identification of natural dyes (microchemical analysis, thin layer chromatography (TLC), and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)) and provides information on how to sample, as well as a flowchart to facilitate dye identification. Section three, on specific dyestuffs, is arranged by color – red, yellow, blue, purple, and black – and comprises a ‘handbook’ with important facts on each dyestuff. A standard format, used throughout this section, includes current terminology, obsolete terminology and synonyms, composition (including molecular formula), chemical properties, source, history of use, preparation, dyeing method, historic recipes, mordants, lightfastness, identification (with sections for microchemical testing, TLC, and HPLC), case studies, and further reading. Finally, an appendix includes five essays, on dyeing in 17th-century Holland and on historical sources, among others.
As symbols of wealth, and easily transported, tapestries and carpets were often displayed, and their use caused damage which was attended to in basically similar ways. Inventories of weaving shops listed departments for the repair of tapestries as early as the 16th century; if in constant use, they tended to be cleaned and repaired every 20 or 30 years. Because of their comparable value to tapestries, carpets were also repaired, rewoven, and reconstructed after they came to be used in Europe as floor coverings as late as the 18th century. Today, the functions these textiles serve determine the course of treatment. In the museum environment, more emphasis is placed on stabilization.
Queen Charlotte’s state bed (1772-78), a silk-embroidered canopied bed, underwent a change of color scheme from the original cream and yellow to cream and purple. This change, which still physically exists, has always been regarded as Victorian. As it has degraded, the ‘Victorian’ purple silk satin has been replaced with the yellow silk satin where necessary. During the most recent conservation treatment, to conserve the last remaining purple silk satin, an inscription was discovered that cast new light on the story of the bed. This report discusses the challenge this inscription has presented. To date, no written documentation has been found to explain the reason for the color change. This puzzle challenges curators and conservators both in its interpretation as well as the appropriate treatment strategy. Through the use of dye analysis, careful inspection, and reversing previous treatments, the object has offered clues to its history. Research is continuing to reestablish a link between the object and the archival records.
The British Galleries project at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) involved a major redisplay of approximately 5000 objects. One of the star objects provided an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate the presentation and shape of an important eighteenth-century dress known as the Christie Dress. A paper on this object had been published previously in Studies in Conservation 23 (1978) 1-14, but at that time little material analysis was carried out. Since the late 1970s the mantua has been on almost constant display. The authors describe the technical research, materials analysis and conservation, and re-evaluate previous reconstructions carried out on the dress. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
A textile belonging to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, thought to be a communion table carpet made in the late 16th or early 17th century, was investigated using the following techniques: metal thread analysis, dye analysis, weave analysis, object examination, and archival research. The textile contains fragments of cloth of gold woven to order in Florence in the early 16th century to make copes for Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester (1501-28) and founder of Corpus Christi College (1517). The aim of the investigation was to provide new information about the attribution and history of the textile. Key findings of the technical and scientific analyses are presented here together with an overview of the evidence found in documentary sources.
A very rare example of 16th-century footwear was restored in the textile conservation and restoration workshop, Fremantle. Linen embroidered shoes with heels became fashionable in the late 16th century when they replaced slip-on, flat shoes. The embroidery, with flower, fruit and bird motifs typical of the Elizabethan period, was in multi-coloured silks and silver threads. The embroidery stitches are described. Silver sequins had also been used but only four remain on one shoe, none on the other. In 1957 the shoe fabric had been consolidated using cmc with o.1% mercuric chloride added as insecticide/fungicide, but this made the shoes stiff and brittle. After analysis and colour fastness tests the labels were removed by moistening the paper and lifting off. Then the shoes were washed. This removed much dirt and cmc. The leather was consolidated, after humidification, with peg 600. The shoes were padded out with silk/dacron, then placed in a box on shapes carved out of polyurethane foam.
Reports on the work undertaken to conserve a 16th-century gun-shield at the Victoria & Albert Museum for the museum’s British Galleries (1500-1900). The aim of the report is to demonstrate the value of collaborative research across disciplines. The authors emphasize the significance of textile or organic elements on pieces of arms or armor. They highlight the importance of considering how the organic elements of arms and armor are studied, recorded, and preserved. Notwithstanding the fragility and limited life span of these organic elements compared to the metal elements, they can supply much information about the armor they are a part of. The case history of the V&A gun-shield is an illustration of how textiles can contribute to information in the study of armor. The report presents the following phases of the research and treatment: preliminary investigation of the gun-shield; technical investigation and research of other surviving gun-shields, especially in terms of their general construction; textiles and paint schemes; conservation and treatment of the V&A gun-shield; conclusions and questions.
A team of conservators with expertise in textiles, objects, and paper, was formed to plan and execute the conservation of the 150 most significant fans from the collection of costume accessories of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The fans date from the 16th century to the present, and originate in the United States, Europe, and the Far East. Materials and construction, and damages resulting from use as costume accessories, storage and display, and previous repair, are described. Methods of conservation are given.
This article examines various intellectual and physical challenges of exhibiting costumes and textiles in European and North American museum settings where artifacts cannot be handled or physically experienced by visitors. It describes different museological and commercial solutions and suggests reasons for the various approaches taken to collections and on-going rotating displays. It also describes the author’s own experiences with costume and textile displays in different institutions in the USA and Canada since the 1980s.
In 17th-century England, silk and metal thread embroidery was applied to small domestic items such as caskets and mirror frames. Allegorical and biblical figures often were depicted, as were figures of Charles I and Catherine of Braganza, who reigned from 1660-1685. Based on the frequency with which various designs were repeated from one object to the next, it has been suggested that women purchased silk satin weave fabric with the motifs already drawn or stamped on them and then used silk embroidery floss, beads, stones, and fancy fabrics to complete the design. In order to more fully characterize 17th-century English embroidery materials, a technical analysis of two examples of 17th-century English embroidery was undertaken and is described in this presentation. X-Ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were the analytical techniques used and are detailed here.
Discusses a group of textiles, excavated at Fast Castle, probably deposited in the late fifteenth century. Also discussed are six spindle whorls, and a German cloth seal deposited in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Article includes an introduction by K. L. Mitchell and K. R. Murdoch, a report on silk textiles by F. Pritchard, and a report on a German cloth seal by G. Egan.
Describes in detail a book of fabric samples dating to the late eighteenth century. Many of fabrics are of mixed materials with linen, cotton, and occasionally silk combined with wool. The findings of technical analysis (including dye analysis) of yarn samples taken from a range of the fabrics are discussed. The conservation of the pattern book is also described.
Includes a detailed account of the re-installation of the costume galleries at the National Museums of Scotland.
Discusses a new method of technical analysis aimed at identifying the mode of production of unprovenanced knitted objects.
The seven technical papers, of the latest publication in this series, ranged widely in their content and brought an up-to-date account of current investigations into natural dye testing and analysis.
Discusses a group of associated finds from an excavation site in the centre of York. The focus is on the period between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, because of the nature of the artefacts. Includes a chronological survey of the find contexts of the artefacts, from the time of the Roman occupation to the seventeenth century; also, a consideration of the archaeological evidence in a wider historical context (e.g. identity of weavers and consumers, scale and significance of textile production). A select catalogue lists all objects illustrated or mentioned in the text.
In 1504, an indenture between Henry VII, the Abbot of Westminster, the Mayor of London, and the University of Cambridge established that the University would be paid £10 a year in exchange for celebrating a yearly service in honor of Henry VII. The indenture required that a hearse cloth be present for this service. In February 1505 an item of cloth of gold, velvet, and embroidered Tudor emblems was entered into the University accounts. The 4 x 3 m cloth survives as one of the University’s oldest possessions in the care of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The hearse cloth, or funeral pall, began life as an ecclesiastical textile and a symbol of political power and wealth. With the English Reformation, the cloth retained its political function, but its use as a marker of devotion to the Roman Church was rejected. The conservation of the hearse cloth, in preparation for long-term display, was the MA Textile Conservation dissertation project of the authors. This poster reports on treatment of the cloth and collaboration between conservators, historians, and conservation scientists.