Centre for Textile Conservation
MPhil Textile Conservation Dissertation Abstracts
Dissertations are available to download from the university website: http://endeavour.gla.ac.uk/ Click on ‘Search Repository’ and enter ‘textile conservation’ as a search term; this will bring up a full list of dissertations. Note that electronic copies are not available until one year from the date of submission. Please note that certain images, etc. may have been removed from the electronic version of the dissertation to meet copyright restrictions.
Please bear in mind that the dissertations were submitted as assignments, as part of the MPhil Textile Conservation programme.
The complete hard copy of the dissertation may be consulted at the Centre for Textile Conservation, University of Glasgow. Please contact Frances Lennard (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2014-16 (available electronically from August 2017)
Hook and loop fasteners: An examination of their use in textile conservation and of
the degradation of their component materials
Hook and loop fasteners are commonly used in textile conservation to hang large, heavy,
and flat textiles for display. They are increasingly finding other uses in varied forms of textile
mounting and storage. Concerns have been raised regarding the chemical stability of hook
and loop fasteners, and whether they pose a risk to artefacts in their vicinity. This project surveys current usage of hook and loop fasteners in textile conservation and compares it to
a past survey to identify changes over time. Following the identification of commonly used hook and loop fastener products, these undergo materials analysis using Fourier Transform
Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy, Oddy testing, and measurement of pH by aqueous extraction before and after artificial aging. Through this testing process, the products are found to pose a low risk when used to display artefacts. Recommendations are made to further decrease
this risk to acceptable levels within textile conservation.
An investigation into the use of Candida rugose Lipase for removal of aged oils from cotton textile
Enzymes have successfully been used in textile conservation to remove unwanted substances such as failed adhesives. Lipase from Candida rugose (CRL) , an enzyme that hydrolyses oils, has been shown to be successful in removing aged oil layers from painted surfaces, and has had promising research for use in textiles. This paper investigates the practical effectiveness of Type VII CRL from Sigma Aldrich on thermally dark aged cotton textiles with linseed and olive oils. The effect of temperature, concentration, trisodium citrate buffer, agitation, and surfactant Dehypon RLS54 were examined to determine optimal conditions for use. It was found that the practical effect was limited, with oxidized linseed oil being resistant to all treatments, and the use of buffer and surfactants alone were often more useful than CRL on olive oil samples. Furthermore, enzyme treatments resulted in noticeable
discolouration of olive oil samples and all aqueous submersions altered the colour of linseed oil samples to some degree.
How can conservation provide better access to the Burrell Collection’s Hutton Castle Rooms?
Museum conservation and access are often described as being in conflict. Access is about giving visitors greater opportunities to see and approach objects, which is seen to be undermined by conservation’s role: to preserve these objects. This is an unhelpful scholarly standpoint, as in reality, these two priorities need to align to achieve a successful museum service. This dissertation examines the conservation and access issues facing the reconstructed period rooms of Hutton Castle in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow. Although Glasgow Museums prides itself on its accessibility, display challenges have left these rooms with limited physical and visual access, since conservation concerns have assumed greater priority. By examining two specific conflicts - physical access and light - this dissertation identifies a fundamental uncertainty concerning the role of these rooms, and analyses National Trust and heritage policies to ascertain whether these might be successfully applied in this context. Using relevant literature and interviews with Burrell staff, it proposes an alternative approach: conservation-based solutions to improve visitor access. This analysis demonstrates that this integrated conservation-access approach cannot only be applied to the Hutton Rooms case study, but also to the wider museum/heritage field, for the benefit of all visitors, present and future.
Let there be light? An investigation into the fading characteristics of the early synthetic dye magenta
Magenta was discovered in 1858 and quickly became the first commercially successful synthetic dye. It was first synthesized and classified as a basic dye. Basic dyes have been historically recorded as being highly sensitive to light. Since light is required to view historic textiles, an issue presents when attempting to strike a balance between preserving the textile and providing access through display, examination, study, or conservation treatment. The aim of this research was to investigate if magenta was as light sensitive as it was historically reported and if it is light sensitive in a museum environment. This investigation evaluated colour and chemical changes within silk and wool magenta dyed model test fabrics. They were subjected to a range of six different lighting scenarios chosen to mimic likely lighting scenarios textiles they may be exposed to during display, examination, and treatment. Colour and chemical changes were evaluated using a spectrophotometer and ultra high performance liquid chromatography coupled chromatography coupled with photo diode array detection (UHPLC-PDA). Results generated from the study indicate that both colour and chemical changes occur when magenta is exposed to light.
Contextualising sooty soiling significance by fuel source for textile conservation
Soot is a chemically complex compound which is not often studied in textile conservation. Whether to clean or not to clean depends on the social and historical evidence contained in soot against its harmful properties. This paper looks into the previous research carried out by textile conservators and their current treatment approaches. It investigates the significance of the source of soot on an object to a social historian. Finally, it collates published scientific research using various analytical techniques to identify the fuel source of the soot.
Most soot studies focus on car engines and atmospheric pollution. Valuable information pertinent to textiles can be gleaned from this data, most of which are on diesel. Scientific analysis proved that pyrolysis products from lignin can be used to identify wood soot using
GC/MS. DRIFTS has limited success in identifying the fuel source. The analysis identifies the presence of carboxylic groups in pure wood soot, but further studies on sooted textiles are needed. Further study is needed to investige historically deposited soot. By using aged samples and looking at degradation of soot once deposited on a textile it would be possible to understand more fully the impact which soot has on a textile.
Investigating the use of additives with Lanaset® dyes for localized colour application
Support fabrics in textile conservation are typically coloured to ensure that the fabrics are sympathetic to the object and visually infill areas of loss when displayed. Colour is commonly introduced via an immersive dyeing process, which uniformly applies colour to the supporting fabric. Recent literature has indicated uniform application of colour may not be suitable for all fabric types and dyes can be applied locally to specific areas of the support fabric instead of the immersive dyeing process. However, there is a lack of consistency in the literature regarding the methodology and use of additives commonly found in the immersive dyeing process.
The aim of this research study was to investigate the process of locally applying Lanaset® dyes to silk crepeline fabric. The research specifically aims to establish the role of additives in the dyeing process by using experimental methods to determine the wet and dry crocking, wash-fastness and, light-fastness properties of samples locally dyed with and without additives. The results showed there were small variations in all the fastness properties however they were not significant from each other and are within the accepted E changes of 2 units. The additive samples were easier to apply and required less stock solution than the non-additive samples. Upon conclusion of the study, further research is warranted as the fixing process may have impacted the fastness properties of the Lanaset®dyes.
“Each to their own?” An investigation into the effect of spacing on laid-thread couching as used in textile conservation
Laid-thread couching is a common stitched technique within textile conservation. It is used to support damaged fabrics onto a stronger support material. Due to its long-standing use, little research has been undertaken to quantify some its “known” characteristics. This project investigated the effect of varying the spacing of lines of laid-thread couching. Current literature, and a survey of practising textile conservators, indicated that few details about laid-thread couching are published in case-studies, but a small number of in-depth research projects into stitched treatments have been undertaken in the past 10 years. Through the survey, cotton was chosen as the most appropriate thread to treat a presented “object”. Tensile-testing revealed variable characteristics between cotton threads from different thread manufacturers. Samples of the “object” were conserved with cotton thread, with different densities of laid-thread couching. Elongation and recovery from fixed-load testing were recorded over several weeks. This project found that thread choice was more important than spacing, as patterns in elongation and recovery were linked to the characteristics of cotton. Several samples were subjected to Digital Image Correlation, which demonstrated patterns of strain around the damaged and conserved areas. This technique proved useful, but requires further research before its full potential for use in textile conservation is completely realised.
A comparison of methods of supporting areas of loss in knitted textiles
This dissertation compared methods of stitched support for areas of loss in historical knitted objects. A literature review and interviews established methods currently in use and rationales behind treatment choices. Couching over a patched support and
Swiss darning were identified as two methods currently used by textile conservators.
The research revealed assumptions that couching was not appropriate for knitted fabrics due to the inelasticity of the support, and that using a stretchy support fabric could mitigate this. Experiments with knitted samples were conducted to test these assumptions.
Four support methods were tested: couching over a woven fabric on the grain, on the bias, over jersey and Swiss darning. The supported samples were subjected to fixed-load weighting to replicate the strain of a) hanging display and b) mannequin display. The results showed strain caused permanent further damage in the unsupported samples, and some distortion and tension in the couched samples.
Analysis of samples weighted against the wale (hanging display), using Digital Image
Correlation, appeared to confirm that couched samples exhibited more concentrated areas of strain than those supported with Swiss darning. The research supported the hypothesis that Swiss darning is a more sympathetic method of support, although
patched support is more appropriate in circumstances.
Can textile conservation inform textile art?
This study shows that it would be useful for textile conservators to share their specialist knowledge with textile art students in the UK. The findings indicate that textile artists and tutors are keen for an element of textile conservation to be incorporated into textile courses. Knowledge and skills that textile conservators possess that may be helpful to textile students at art college and throughout their artistic careers are listed. Ways textile conservators and students may benefit from interaction are highlighted. Possible methods of outreach are discussed and limitations of implementing interaction considered.
An experimental methodology for studying the penetration of adhesives into painted textiles with fluorescent labelling and cross-sections: A case study in thangka painting samples
The dissertation examines isinglass and funori labelled with
5-DTAF [5-(4,6-Dichlorotriazinyl)aminofluorescein] after application on Tibetan thangka painting samples, with fluorescent light microscopy.
Different types of preparation were tested included samples with added iron red in the pigmentation and/or starch paste for sizing the ground fabric. This aimed to find the most appropriate methodology for creating samples with low autofluorescence. Since the samples were observed embedded in cross-section, the materials and techniques of cross-sectioning were reviewed and evaluated for examination with fluorescent microscopy.
This study was conducted in order to provide an experimental methodology and guidelines for preparing labelled adhesives and painted textiles samples, for the study of adhesive
penetration. The conclusions of this dissertation can be used by any researcher in order to advance research into the penetration of adhesives, and potentially to help conservators decide about appropriate consolidation practices for painted textiles.
Sublime applications: Creating an efficient cyclododecane barrier on textiles
Dye bleed caused by wet cleaning is a common problem during conservation treatments. A protective hydrophobic barrier is sometimes created over such water-sensitive dyes using the waxlike material cyclododecane. However, little research has been done on how to create the most efficient cyclododecane barrier on textiles. Seven different application methods were devised and tested for effectiveness. Samples were soaked in water to find
which application method best protected against dye bleed. Gravimetric and visual analysis were used to track any changes in the applied cyclododecane. ATR-FTIR and DRIFTS infrared spectroscopy were performed to discover how well the cyclododecane had coated the sample fibers. The data revealed that the most effective methods involved applying cyclododecane to one side of a piece of fabric while the fabric was at room temperature while applying it to the opposite side while the fabric was heated. This heating allows the cyclododecane to become well-embedded within the fabric where it coats and protects the fibers. The paintbrush and kistka application tools were also compared during the experiment with the result that the brush applied more cyclododecane but cyclododecane applied with a kistka was more effective against dye bleed. The results were used to create instructions for applying cyclododecane to textiles which conservators can use during treatments.
Robinson, Jamie Isabelle
Is the icon as exhibit changing the face of conservation? A comparative study into factors affecting textile conservation decisions in two recent blockbuster costume exhibitions
This dissertation aims to shed light on the changing spaces and circumstances of textile conservation for contemporary costume exhibitions with the advent of the blockbuster spectacle. Textile conservators have had to react to these changing circumstances through myriad resourceful, creative and collaborative means to ensure that innovative display decisions are not at the expense of object preservation. Impacting factors including the space, the objects, the team, the design, the time, the money, the tour, the mannequins and the audience have each been discussed broadly and in the context of two recent blockbuster costume exhibition case studies; David Bowie Is and Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!.
While different in many respects both exhibitions offered extreme examples in exhibition design and object display for textile conservators to contend with, an extreme which is fast becoming the norm. Both exhibitions involved the combined skills of a wide range of museum and external specialists to create their unique, immersive experience. Furthermore, both exhibitions were from single owner archival collections with costumes selected, conserved and displayed to conjure up the personality of their wearer. Together, these two exhibitions pose a number of contemporary challenges for textile conservators to work with, and within; a way of looking at blockbuster costume exhibitions, not from the ‘what?’ but from the ‘how?’
Rehousing proposal for the Papa Stour archaeological textile collection from the Shetland Museum and Archives: issues and proposal
This study seeks to propose a rehousing storage method for a collection of archaeological fragments from Shetland Museum and Archives that will reflect the objects’ role and the institution’s resources while promoting recent advances in best practice in the care of archaeological textiles.
The archaeological collection’s storage environment and condition were surveyed in order to understand its specific needs. In order to determine decision making processes and
techniques of mounting archaeological material, one-on-one interviews with heritage professionals at leading museums in the United Kingdom were conducted. Through this process various issues affecting rehousing strategies, not previously considered, were uncovered. These include the practical aspects of mount construction, trends within conservation, and even macro environmental issues such as sustainability and economy.
Taking all these considerations into account, a prototype mount was finally constructed and proposed.
Presented at Icon conference 2016: Turn and Face the Change.
Developing collaborative approaches to preventive and interventive conservation in the collecting and care of costumes at Scottish Opera
The central issue regarding conservation of theatre and costume is the conflict of interests between theatre practice, which tends to focus on future productions and commercial pressures, and the aims of conservators, who want to preserve the material culture of past productions as evidence of what the theatre has produced. Using the costume department at Scottish Opera as an example, this research aimed to challenge the tension between theatre’s commercial pressures for the future and conservators looking at the past. The research examines the tension between costume as a studio asset versus costume as pieces of institutional heritage. The result of this research is an exploration of conservation strategies that can be inserted into the running of the opera company whilst minimising the implications for theatre practice. The focus is to broaden understanding of preservation of textiles and in turn consider how this transmits to the conservation of performance pieces, widening the methods of decision-making for conservators. It proved that costume still in use is heritage and that its function as a tool in creating art gives it the status of art in its own right.
An investigation into the effectiveness of using a pH buffer in wet cleaning historical textiles
A pH buffer is used in wet cleaning to control the pH of the wash solution. This research investigates the use and effectiveness of pH buffers for wet cleaning in textile conservation through questionnaires sent to practising textile conservators and by conducting wet cleaning experiments. The most commonly used pH buffers were found to be tri-ammonium citrate and tri-sodium citrate self buffers. Experiments were conducted on naturally aged cotton and silk fabrics using Hostapon T® and Dehypon LS45® respectively, with tri-sodium citrate self buffer and tri-sodium citrate with citric acid and sodium hydroxide with citric acid combination buffers at comparable concentrations. The experiments focused on measurement of the pH of the wash baths, the change in pH of the samples and, to quantify soiling removal, the colour change of the samples. Citric acid in the pH buffer reduced the cloud point of Dehypon LS45®. Tri-sodium citrate was most effective at increasing soiling
removal. Tri-sodium citrate in combination with citric acid was found to buffer the pH of the wash solutions most effectively and was also effective at increasing soiling removal.
Contemporary fashion collections within museums and the role of the conservator
This project is an investigation into the current culture of collecting and exhibiting contemporary fashion within museums, how this has increased in recent years and the impact this has on the role of the conservator. A literature review reveals a number of key texts within fashion and dress history, but very little written within conservation. Eight interviews were carried out with museum curators and textile conservators from different UK institutions to highlight current attitudes and practices relating to contemporary collecting and
the conservator’s response. A number of issues were highlighted from the study, including the importance of the retention of information through detailed documentation of tangible
and intangible aspects of the object’s provenance and mainly the issue of modern or unusual materials used for the designs. This includes the use of designer interviews drawing on similarities with the recent research conducted on artist interviews. In response to this, two case studies were carried out looking at the work of two young Scottish designers. Each study focussed on one piece of contemporary fashion with the aim of highlighting practical issues raised when documenting and analysing modern dress for collection within museums.
An investigation into the use of fabric paints for support fabrics in textile conservation
Support fabrics are used in textile conservation in order to provide support for
weakened and damaged textiles. These supports are often coloured in order to infill any loss in the object in order to help with interpretation and improve the aesthetic of the object. This colouring can be done using several different methods, the most common being dyeing, while using fabric paints is an alternative choice. It is important to ensure that the materials used to colour the support fabric are stable, do not produce volatile substances that could affect the object, and will not fade or lose colour too quickly. In this paper three fabric paint manufacturers, Jacquard Neopaque®, Pebeo SetaSilk® and Deka Silk® were tested for the presence of possible volatile substances, their light fastness, and their wash fastness, as well as their ease of application and changes to flexibility of the support fabrics. All three manufacturers performed well in the wash fastness and light ageing tests. The Jacquard Neopaque® and Deka Silk® were acceptable in the Oddy Test testing for volatiles, while the Pebeo SetaSilk® did not perform as well. The flexibility tests suggest that different manufacturers might be considered for different requirements.
An investigation into whether the compressive forces exerted on a textile artefact suspended in a magnetic display system cause damage to the object’s fibres and/or weave
Through review of the relevant literature and through data collected via a questionnaire, this dissertation highlights that magnets are widely utilised within conservation, both as a treatment tool and as a method of display. There is however little published research available into the potentially damaging effects of compression on artefacts held under the exerted force of a magnet. This research project begins to bridge this gap in knowledge by
analysing the effects of a magnetic display system on the fibres and weave of four textile samples and one textile artefact suspended in magnetic display systems over set periods of time. The textile types and method of magnetic display chosen were based on those found to be most commonly cited in the qualitative data collected. Methods of analysis conducted for the purpose of this research included: simple visual analysis, stereomicroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. Through the analysis carried out no damage to the textiles was observed as a result of compression by the magnetic display systems. More research is however required i.e. analysis of textile artefacts mounted with magnets for longer periods of
time and by pursuing other analytical techniques such as tensile strength testing to assess whether damage is occurring as a result of compression that is not detectible via visual analysis methods.
Grabowska, Maria Katarzyna
Well-worn issue: Conservation of ecclesiastical textiles while still in use, on examples from Poland and the United Kingdom
This thesis focuses on the challenges and decision-making processes in the conservation of ecclesiastical textiles while in use, based on examples from Poland and the United Kingdom. The conservation of objects for use strains the objectives of preservation since use impacts the stability of a piece. The review of published and unpublished case studies alongside interviews with textile conservators indicated that modification of treatment techniques along with the appropriate application of restoration practice enables succesful, and ethically sound conservation. The use of objects in continuity with Christian heritage is assisted and encouraged, if the cooperation of the client can be secured.
The thesis also investigates the nature of liturgical vestments in order to explain required considerations and limitations to the conservator’s practice when dealing with Christian religious objects. Dialogue with members of the clergy assisted in recognising vestments as objects consecrated to their ceremonial use. Their utilisation generates their status and affiliation exclusively with the liturgy. Competent conservation does not affect the sacred nature of the textile, thus negligible limitations apply so long as an object’s integrity is protected from profanation by repurposing and is accorded proper respect in handling.
An experimental evaluation of non-ionic surfactant Dehypon® LS54
Dehypon® LS45 (LS45) is a common non-ionic surfactant used by UK textile conservators, however it has very low cloud point of 20 ºC which makes the temperature hard to control below the cloud point during wet cleaning. This research investigated the critical micelle concentration (cmc), the detergency and the effect of residues of an alternative surfactant Dehypon® LS54 (LS54). The cmc values of LS54 were found to be lower than that of LS45 when measured by Wilhelmy plate method and simplified drop weight method.
Artificially soiled (carbon and olive oil) cotton and wool fabrics were washed with LS45 and LS54 and their detergency effects on the soils evaluated using colorimetry and visible spectrophotometry. The most effective concentration of LS54 for removing soils was found to be 0.3% w/v and its detergency effect was similar to LS45 at the same concentration.
Surfactant residue was detectable on un-rinsed cotton and wool fabrics by Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform spectroscopy (DRIFTs). DRIFTs analysis also proved that LS54 is more hydrophilic and has a longer fatty alcohol chain than LS45, which explains why it has a higher cloud point and cmc than LS45.
Schmitt, Emma A.
An examination of the working properties of Agarose gels for textile conservation
Recent developments in poultice treatments have led to the introduction of new materials into textile conservation. Agar and agarose represent two such products. First used on paintings, these materials have rapidly transitioned into more porous media, despite limited research underpinning how these gels respond on different materials.
This research aims to determine ideal working conditions for agarose on three Different fibres. A literature review examines available research and case studies, identifying trends and limits in current practice. Discussion of poultices and gel cleaning systems, in depth
examination of the physical properties of agar and agarose, and purchasing criteria inform the experimental phase of the project.
The experimental phase examines agarose at three concentrations and two depths to determine how these gels should be utilised on textile substrates.
Results show that success is dependent on type of fibre, wettability, and gel concentration. The current suggested range should be altered to improve the ability of the gel to draw out and prevent the movement of soiling.
The research develops the use of agarose in textile conservation, providing a
visual and empirical source for understanding how these gels work and what
factors to take into account for purchasing products and implementing treatment.
Schmitt, Emma. “I Have a Gel, and I Know How to Use It! An Examination of the Working Properties of Agarose Gels in Textile Conservation.” Poster. In Proceedings of Material in Motion, 10th North American Textile Conservation Conference, November 2015, New York, New York.
Interpretive displays: Investigating aspects of conservation and access of furnishing textiles within historic interiors
As the requirements of access within historic properties continue to develop, the implications of changes in display are at present unclear, especially in relation to the long term stability of furnishing textiles. This research attempts to highlight the attitudes and methods used within interactive displays and examine the growing use of replicas within conservation. This study has shown that two defined arguments for and against the use of replica and sacrificial textiles are prevalent. Conservation concerns regarding damage being done to objects as well as a misrepresentation of the past is discussed. Primary and secondary resources are combined and an in-depth case study of National Trust property Upton House is examined. Conclusions advocate that, instead of regarding increased access as a negative and potentially damaging aspect of display, conservators should focus on the progressive outcomes associated with interpretive displays. Opening up historic interiors to new audiences is a positive step towards communicating the message of conservation to a wider audience.
A Hidden Agenda: An Investigation into a Concealed Hat. What is the most suitable method for documentation and conservation?
A study of literature on documentation was undertaken to create a method for documenting and conserving a hat found concealed in an 18th Century cottage. From this study a documentation methodology was developed which included documenting all information from the object and non-object specific information, the condition, the cache site and gathering all this information in an assessment of significance including influential factors
such as the client’s wishes. From the object record and the cache the hat may be dated before 1828. It is made from a hemp fibre in a complex construction of lacing, weaving and knotting. There were no other materials aiding the construction. The silk lining was original. The condition appeared to be caused by three main life stages: from uses and wear, from the concealment and from open display at the house. The assessment of significance identified that the first two key life stages were seen as significant and evidential to the
object’s true nature. Thus a treatment was proposed to stabilise the object for display and to retain the soiling and damage that is evidence of concealment and manufacturing and use.
Benson, Sarah Jane
ʻLike with likeʼ: A comparison of natural and synthetic stitching threads used in
This research aimed to determine optimum thread types used in textile conservation by
quantitatively evaluating tensile strength and damage inherent to conserved samples. A
literature review and questionnaire sent to textile conservators were used to establish the
most commonly used threads for laid-thread couching treatments and the rationale behind
thread choice. Most common threads found were two-ply hair silk and Tetex (formerly
Stabiltex) as well as fine polyester, silk, and cotton varieties. Three natural fibre plain-weave artefact samples conserved with five different thread types (lace cotton, hair silk, organsin, Skala and Tetex) using laid-thread couching were tensile strength tested or subjected to a fixed-load experiment for two weeks. Results were evaluated with high-magnification images and scanning electron microscope (SEM). The fixed-load experiment determined that longer periods of time created more damage, even with lighter loads. Lace cotton and hair silk gave the best results for textile conservation use on natural fibre artefacts, whereas the polyester threads gave the highest damage results. Many conclusions were drawn from this research, however, further research is required to quantify some observations, such as stitching effects, and to broaden the researchʼs scope within textile conservation.
Benson, Sarah J., Frances Lennard and Margaret J. Smith. “‘Like-With-Like’: A Comparison of Natural and Synthetic Stitching Threads Used in Textile Conservation.” In ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, Melbourne, September 2014.
The consolidation of mud-silk and painted three-dimensional textiles
Recent research highlighted the existence and significance of a unique Chinese textile, mud-silk, which has a glossy applied surface finish. A mud-silk jacket donated to the Royal British Columbia Museum had an unusual flaking condition, sparking this investigation into its consolidation, and that of three-dimensional textiles with an applied surface film or paint. The research aimed to find consolidation treatments that would stabilise the flaking surface film
without compromising the flexibility of the textile, maintaining its visual integrity and historical silhouette.
Consolidants tested were isinglass, Aquazol® 200 and funori, with emphasis being placed on the application techniques and solution parameters, namely concentration and volatility.
An aerosol spray technique was developed that, while having limitations, allowed good control of consolidant application. Treatments were tested for their consolidation effectiveness on painted silk specimens, then for their effect on the flexibility of un-used mud-silk dating from the 1950s. Flexibility tests were undertaken using instrumental and sensory methods. Results showed that overall, funori 0.1% affected the flexibility of
mud-silk the least, and isinglass 3% the most. There was also found to be a complex relationship among solution properties such as volatility, concentration and viscosity, which impacted textile flexibility, warranting further research in this area.
Blair, Kate and Karen Thompson. “The Consolidation of Mud-Silk: A Southeast Asian Textile.” In An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage.
Contributions to the Hong Kong Congress 2014, edited by Joyce Townsend et al.,1-4. London: International Institute for Conservation, 2014.
Wet cleaning synthetic fibres: A preliminary investigation into the effects of conservation detergents on soiled synthetic test fabrics
Although wet cleaning is common practice within textile conservation, limited research has been undertaken on its use on twentieth-century synthetic fabrics, which are gradually entering museum collections and in turn conservation studios. This dissertation research focuses on the effects of wet cleaning synthetic fibres, looking in detail at soil removal and detergent choice. Standardised wet cleaning tests were conducted on artificially soiled and aged test specimens, to include four different fibres: cellulose acetate, viscose rayon, nylon and polyester. An anionic and a non-ionic detergent were used in the wet cleaning tests to determine the effectiveness of the wash solution and evaluate the effects of conservation wet cleaning on the fibre’s tensile strength. Both colour readings and tensile strength testing were used to assess the differences before and after cleaning. The results confirmed that the wet cleaning process had little effect on the tensile strength for nylon or polyester but a noticeable change in elongation was evident for both cellulose acetate and viscose rayon after all wet cleaning tests. The soil removal specimens produced varied results between soiling and fibres. While certain stains were removed by the detergent baths on some fibres they were not removed on others. It was found that acetate and polyester were the most improved after wet cleaning and anionic detergent was the most effective at soil removal overall. These results confirmed that detergent selection should be based not only on the fibre type but soiling and stains should also be considered. This research concludes with recommendations and guidelines for conservators looking to wet clean synthetic fibres.
Gardner, Stella. “Wet Cleaning Synthetic Fibres.” Icon News, 57 (2015): 34-35.
The use of nylon net in textile conservation
Nylon net is a commonly used fabric in the textile conservation profession. It has physical characteristics which make it suitable for a wide variety of uses. This study explores how and why it is used and seek to evaluate how successful it is as a conservation material. Tensile strength tests conducted on nylon net which had been put through a number of physical processes, such as dyeing, accelerated ageing and coating with adhesive, give an indication of any changes in mechanical properties brought about by these procedures. This research has also allowed for the opportunity to compare the effects of both real and accelerated ageing on nylon net, using the resources held at the Centre for Textile Conservation,
University of Glasgow and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Ultimately the main conclusion drawn from this study is the large variation in properties of different samples of one apparently single fabric.
Lucero Juez, Francisca Alejandra
Working with limited resources: Improving storage conditions for archaeological textiles of University of Concepción
This dissertation focuses on the continuation of University of Concepción’s project: ‘Placing value on the University of Concepción archaeological collection’ (in Spanish: Puesta en valor de la colección arqueológica Universidad de Concepción), funded by the government in 2010 for the conservation, study and safe storage of archaeological objects under the care of the Anthropology Department. The textile collection was not included at that time.
The University wishes to continue this initiative, and this new project involves the planning of a conservation strategy to improve the textiles’ storage conditions and allow future research on their provenance and history within Chilean past, allowing scholars, students and the general public to learn from them and give value to Chilean cultural heritage. The proposals will be presented to the National Fund for Cultural and Art Development (in Spanish: Fondo Nacional para el Desarrollo Cultural y las Artes – FONDART), and hopefully the textiles will begin treatment by winter 2014.
Presented at AIC Textile Specialty Group, 2014.
A preliminary investigation into the characterisation of sooty soilings on historic textiles
The research focuses on the characterisation of airborne, atmospheric pollution-derived
black carbon-based sooty soilings on historic textiles. It examines current conservation
attitudes to sooty soilings and conservation knowledge about soiling identification. An
overview is given of historically important sources of sooty soilings which may have affected
textiles exhibited in the domestic interior.
Methods with potential to aid the characterization of sooty soilings were researched and put into use during the assessment of the soiling on two domestic interior historic textiles: an early twentieth-century embroidered banner and a nineteenth-century muslin curtain. The thesis focuses on ascertaining the presence of sooty soiling on the two artefacts. Investigation methods used include physical examination, historical research, and a set of instrumental analytical and imaging techniques such as stereomicroscopy and polarised light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive X-ray analysis, ion chromatography, Raman spectroscopy, attenuated total reflection infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and infrared photography.
Applicability of the different techniques for the characterisation of sooty textile soilings is
evaluated, and recommendations for the future investigation of this novel field of research are provided.
Meller, Nora. “Investigating Sooty Soiling on Historic Textiles.” Icon News, 57 (2015): 35-36.
Investigating the uses of freezing, anoxia and heat treatment as pest treatments, and their physical effects on textiles
Pest management is an essential part of collection care. Three pest treatments that are the most commonly used methods in practice today are freezing, anoxia and heat. With the rise
in loan exchanges between institutions nationally and internationally, the situation in which a particular artefact may be put through a mix of treatments is a very real possibility. In addition, the increase of modern materials in the collections, which have not been tested extensively with various pest management treatments, now creates another aspect of
concern. To date, there has been little published research into the effect of treatments on textiles.
Different institutions use variations of the three treatments. This dissertation aims to capture that information through surveys sent out internationally, with attempts to include Asia as there is little published literature from this region. This dissertation also seeks to investigate the physical effects of the three pest treatments on woven textiles made from, natural, synthetic and regenerated fibres. The methodology includes the use of experiments where new textile samples are subjected to repeated rounds of each treatment, as well as mixed rounds of all three treatments. The physical properties of the samples are then examined
microscopically, and through tensile testing. It was found that natural fibres appeared to be the least affected by all treatments while results for synthetic fibres appeared erratic. Acetate appeared to be the most affected and would need further investigation. Microscopic examination showed no discernible change while tensile testing did.
Investigating the potential of decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) as an alternative solvent for textile conservation cleaning
Concerns about the health and environmental impacts of some solvents used in textile conservation have signalled the need for more environmentally friendly alternatives. At the same time, “green” cleaning solvents have begun to be developed by the professional dry cleaning industry. One of these alternative solvents, a cyclic silicon-based liquid, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5), may have potential for use in textile conservation; however there previously have been no studies to show how its use may impact textile artefacts. In this study, the “green” profile of D5 was reviewed, along with a look at it structure, properties and potential for solubility. A series of experiments was performed to test the effects of D5 on textiles and to examine its soil removal performance. The samples used in testing were soiled and unsoiled new cotton and wool fabrics, some of which were artificially aged. Analysis of the effect of D5 on textile substrates employed Attenuated Total Reflectance- Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, tensile strength tests, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Soil removal tests were analyzed using colorimetry and ATR-FTIR. In the results of the analysis, no appreciable difference in the condition and composition of treated and untreated samples could be detected. D5 was shown to have significant effect on nonpolar soiling. Assessment of the overall results suggests that there is potential for use of D5 within the textile conservation field, however limitations of the trials indicate a need for more research.
Presented at AIC Textile Specialty Group, 2013.
An investigation into the use of the chelating agent tri-sodium citrate in Laponite and methylcellulose gel formulations for the removal of metallic staining
This study investigates whether Laponite and methylcellulose gels can be effective carriers for the chelating agent tri‐sodium citrate with the purpose of removing metallic staining from
textiles. Whereas chelating agents are often used in immersion treatments this is not always a suitable option for some textile substrates, so localised treatments provide an alternative solution. The gel/tri-sodium citrate formulations were tested in undyed cotton and silk samples to determine the most effective gel/chelating agent concentrations, investigate their working properties, how effectively they rinse from the fabric, and whether any residues
remain. Following this, the chelation abilities of the gel/tri-sodium citrate formulations were tested on alum-mordanted dyed silk samples, where the aim was to draw the dye from the fabric into the gel through the tri-sodium citrate chelating with the aluminium in the mordant. Methods to deposit metallic soling onto the fabric, in the instance copper corrosion, were also examined. The results were mixed: the gels were easy to combine and apply to the fabric but left residues. Chelation was ineffective and a negligible amount of dye was removed from the samples. The dissertation concludes with a comparison of the two gels, with the aim of providing guidance for textile conservators exploring this method of treatment.
The textile conservator’s role in the conservation of contemporary textile-based art
Current research into the conservation of contemporary art has been focused mainly on digital and multi-media works of art, with very little discussion involving textile based art. However, textile conservators are involved in the conservation of textile based artworks. This dissertation looks in depth at the textile conservator’s role in the conservation of contemporary textile-based art and at the specific issues within the conservation of contemporary art, such as the artist’s intent and meaning of their art and how this can affect conservation and documentation. The use of case studies involving textile conservators illustrate the role that they fulfil and how this may not be dissimilar to their role in conserving historical objects within a collection. An artist interview was carried out and analysed to determine its value and importance in the conservation and documentation of contemporary art. The results showed that determining the meaning of the work prior to conservation is essential to the conservation decision-making, and that a textile conservator can employ the suggested research and documentation methods without changing their practice.
Cut construction and conservation: ethical issues with the highly interventive treatment of costume
International conservation standards promote the invisibility of the conservator’s work in the biography of objects but the active treatment of objects often makes this impossible. Items of costume held in museums are particularly prone to such ethical dilemmas and demonstrate how current conservation techniques require that the conservator’s work become an active part of each object’s history. The conservation of costume can be challenging due to particular features of costume common to most collections. Fashion’s aesthetic role means that the visual nature of costume is especially important. As well the historic methods of consumption that result in alterations to a piece of costume over, what could be, a very long
period of time presents a particular ethical dilemma about what period of an object’s history should be prioritised during treatment. Context is especially important for making these decisions in an ethical manner. The conservator must engage with other museum professionals to determine how the objects are consumed by museum visitors and what role
the object plays in the exhibit and the collection before a potentially reconstructive treatment is judged appropriate. Conservators and museum professionals must also accept that
reconstructive treatments change the innate nature of the object and that it will be affected by its time as a part of a museum collection.
Friendly fungicides: testing fungicides containing tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia) to determine their safety for use on historic cellulosic textiles
This research explores new fungicide treatments containing tea tree oil (Melaleuca
alternifolia) and will use a comparison with the product Preventol® ON-S. The effect on the condition of both a new cotton fabric and a cotton textile from the Second World War British Utility Scheme has been determined using colorimeter, FTIR-ATR, surface pH, and tensile strength testing. More recent understanding of the types of fungi found on cellulosic textiles and their growth mechanisms has been amalgamated, though the fungicides have not been tested directly on fungi. An overview of current practices used in textile conservation has informed both the theoretical principles and experimental design. Two treatment methods were used, immersion and spot cleaning suing a vacuum suction table. The spot cleaning treatments for both fungicides were found to be unviable due to the vacuum causing undesirable staining and build up on the samples. The Preventol® ON-S was found to have
an overall negative effect on the condition of the textiles, but the tea tree oil with emulsifier was determined an effective treatment, causing neutral or beneficial effects on the condition, except on the tensile strength for the new cotton samples.
Viscose rayon- an absorbing problem: An investigation into the impact conservation wet cleaning treatment has on historic woven viscose rayon fabrics; with a supplementary analysis of current techniques for identifying man-made fibres
Poor wet properties are attributed to viscose. Research has shown how the fibre’s manufacture influences this characteristic and how progressive improvements to processing methods mean that viscose rayon pre-1940 have even poorer wet properties than later versions. It was decided to investigate the implications this has for conservation wet cleaning treatments. Tensile strength testing was carried out on specimens of viscose rayon from three eras – c.1940s, c.1960s and c.1980/90s – which had been subjected to a wet cleaning treatment, to contextualise research for conservation. Both Orvus WA® and Dehypon LS45 were used for wet cleaning. Results showed the two later samples of viscose rayon lost significant strength in the wet state, up to 50%. The c.1940s fabric had a greater strength reduction of around 80% - however, degradation from a black colourant present was shown to have affected results. This highlighted the risk that degradation, even if not visible macroscopically, can be significantly exacerbated in viscose rayon when wetted. It was concluded that wet cleaning viscose rayon can be a suitable with either the aforementioned detergents, although it may be less appropriate for older more degraded versions. Problems with the fibre identification of viscose rayon were also explored, showing successes in using a combination of different basic analytical techniques.
Gamper, Charlotte, Karen Thompson and Anita Quye. “Viscose Rayon: An Absorbing Problem. An Investigation into the Impact Conservation Wet Cleaning Treatments Have on Historic Woven Viscose Rayon Fabrics.” In Conserving Modernity. The Articulation of
Innovation, 9th North American Textile Conservation Conference, San Francisco, California, Nov. 12-13th 2013, (NATCC: 2013), pp. 54-71.
A review of conservation public engagement events: the development of the communicative textile conservator
This study explores the variable contexts of socio-economic impact upon the evolving role of the conservator. Government policies and funding organisations have affirmed the significance of public value within heritage interpretation and its contribution to an enhanced society. This has led to a recent emergence of conservation projects involving communities and public outreach, and the development of a more established visitor/conservator relationship. Textile conservation is still a relatively unknown profession to the general public considering the major role it plays in the preservation and exhibition of cultural heritage. This paper argues the need for textile conservation to take a more active role in public engagement events in order to maintain its place within the heritage sector. The review covers current practice regarding textile conservation public relations and socio-economic impact. It examines the challenges faced by the heritage sector which have given textile conservation practice the impetus to evolve and uses sources to verify the need for more in-
situ textile conservation public events.
It critically examines technical practice and management skills taken into consideration when creating and undertaking remedial and preventive conservation public engagement events; evaluating various case studies of conservation public engagement events from differing heritage environments that focus on the visitor/conservator interactive relationship.