In Part I of this blog, we told you what we've learned so far about the history of the Rochester Union Greys banner. In this blog we'll tell you how we managed some challenges faced by the textile conservators at Museum Textile Services.
Once the cleaning of the banner was completed, it was moved to a solid-support panel that we had covered with Polyfelt and cotton poplin. We began reassembling the banner by centering the bottom layer face-down on the panel. A piece of hi-loft polyester padding in the shape of the embroidered wreath was placed in the center of the banner to ensure sufficient pressure against the acrylic. In order to compensate visually for losses in the top layer of the banner, a piece of cream cotton was then placed on top of the padding. The top layer of the flag was rolled out over the cotton and pinned into place. The final layer of support was a full overlay of sheer cream-colored nylon net.
Once all the layers were in place, the flag was hand stitched to the support panel around the edges and through the embroidery. Any areas of weakness in need of additional support were also stabilized, such as loose areas of embroidery. The sections of fringe were placed around the banner and tensioned to their maximum length. The client agreed to allow us to start the fringe further from the sleeve end to provide the length necessary to minimize gaps between sections. We hand stitched the fringe along the perimeter, and any errant strands were tacked down by hand. We decided to pressure mount the banner under UV-filtering acrylic in order to minimize the amount of stitching necessary to hold the fringe and support the fragile banner. A sheet of UV filtering acrylic was screwed to the front of the panel through pre-drilled holes. An aluminum powder-coated frame was then screwed into place to complete the pressure mount.
In just under one year, this beautiful silk banner was salvaged from a trunk full of rodent-damaged memorabilia, identified as being an important historical document, and returned to stability and splendor through textile conservation. We are grateful to its owner for trusting us when we proposed this extensive treatment, and recognizing the value of preservation.