By Camille Myers Breeze
This spring I am hard at work promoting the latest research project at Museum Textile Services on the Use of Sheer Overlays in Textile Conservation. Sheer overlays, such as nylon net, silk crepeline, and polyester Stabiltex, are used in textile conservation to protect an object and/or change the object’s appearance.
There are many benefits of conserving textiles with sheer overlays. They provide immediate stabilization across a large area with a minimum of stitching. Sheer overlays also provide preventative care, as they offer protection from loss if the textile continues to degrade. Most importantly for use at MTS, sheer overlays are easy to learn, and are among the first things I teach intern to do.
This topic is near and dear to my heart, as I have been teaching it at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in Mount Carroll, IL, since 2012. It may also be familiar to you if you have visited the Resources section of the Museum Textile Services web page. There you will find several MTS handouts on the subject, including our newest, Hot Cutting & Applying Polyester Sheer Overlays.
Other MTS Handouts on this topic include Conservation Netting, about the use of sheer nylon net overlays. I created the Sheer Overlay Score Card to assist in choosing the best sheer overlay, and it is also online. There is even a List of Sheer Overlay Suppliers and a Sheer Overlay Bibliography.
At the end of May, 2014, I will present poster on Evaluating and Choosing Sheer Overlays in San Francisco at the 42nd Conference of the American Institute for Conservation.One of the purposes of this poster is to launch my online survey on use of sheer overlays in textile conservation, in which I will gather feedback from conservators and collections care specialists around the world. The survey data will then assist me in an upcoming publication I am writing on the subject.
Stay tuned for more on this topic, and don't forget to take the online survey!
By Camille Myers Breeze
On May 8th, 2012, Camille headed off to Albuquerque, NM, for the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation. Located along the historic Route 66, Albuquerque was the site of reunions with old friends and gathering of new knowledge.
The first thing Camille did upon arrival was hang the poster that she and Kate Smith co-authored, entitled "Crossing the Boundaries Between Conservation Disciplines in the Treatment of Asian Thangkas." This poster was a summary of our 2.5-year thangka project for the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College and our first opportunity to present our work to our other conservators. Judging by the verbal feedback and how quickly our handouts disappeared, our poster was very well received!
If you would like to read this poster, it is available in jpeg form in the Resources section of the MTS website at http://www.museumtextiles.com/uploads/7/8/9/0/7890082/poster.jpg
Visitors to our poster were able to view a short video about the thangka conservation project by scanning the QR code on our handout. This handout is also available on the MTS website at http://www.weebly.com/uploads/7/8/9/0/7890082/thangka_recipe_handout_with_qr.pdf
Camille volunteered to live blog four sessions of the AIC Textile Specialty Group talks for the AIC Blog (www.conservators-converse.org/). Shortcuts to her posts can be found here:
“Recovery and Conservation of the Textile Collections at the National Museum of Music” (Cuba) by Alina Vazquez de Arazoza
“Repair of 20th-Century Leavers Lace” by Annie-Beth Ellington
“The Creation, Implementation and Safety of Digitally Printed Fabrics in Textile Conservation—Where Are We in 2012?” by Miriam Murphy
“A Successful Treatment Method for Reducing Dye Bleed on a 19th-Century Sampler” by Katherine Sahmel and Laura Mina
The biggest surprise of the conference came when Camille was invited to substitute for colleague Chris Stavroudis in the first ever Great Debate! Organized by Richard McCoy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Great Debate pitted teams of three conservators against each other to argue a topic relating to art conservation. Camille's teammates were Vanessa Muros, Staff Research Associate at the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program (and former student of Camille's in Peru,) and Kristin Adsit, IFA-NYU fourth-year intern from Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The best part about the Great Debate was giving conservators a chance to break out of our shells by acting loud and silly in front of our peers. Oh, and Camille's team won our debate! The debates were video taped and will appear soon on YouTube.
by Sarah Berlinger, Technician
The Fairbanks House, located in Dedham, Massachusetts, is notable not only for its age, but for its impressive collection of American crafts and memorabilia. The house, whose first rooms were constructed around 1640, is believed to be the oldest surviving timber frame house in the United States. As a historic house museum, the Fairbanks House endeavors to fully represent the lives and time periods of different groups of Fairbanks family members who have occupied the house over the years. Included in those representations are various crafts and works of art created by the family over the years.
In 2008, Museum Textile Services conducted an initial survey of the collection of samplers in the house that were created by members of the extended family over the years; the collection includes samplers from 1763 to 1830. Thanks to a Tru-Vue Optium Conservation Grant through the American Institute for Conservation, we were able to conserve seven samplers for the Fairbanks House in 2011.
For young girls and teens, samplers served several purposes. They provided the opportunity for girls to work on their embroidery technique, something every woman needed to possess. Samplers also provided something to keep girls occupied during the day. Many of the samplers in the Fairbanks collection were done by girls around 11 years old. Some of the samplers were very simple; they contained renderings of the alphabet and numbers, a few examples of different stitches and borders, and sometimes a name. Others included elaborately embroidered scenes and designs, as well as poetic tributes.
One of the most endearing qualities of samplers is the mistakes they possess. For example, in the first line of the stanza in the 1798 sampler below, the "w" of "anew" would not fit within the border, so the stitcher, eleven year old Betsey Fairbanks, added the letter above the word. The same thing was done in the third line with the word "high." A larger image of this sampler can be found here. Such missteps only increase the charm of these needleworks.
Conservation efforts for the samplers included removal from acidic backing boards and adhesives, vacuuming, and some repairs to embroidery stitches. Some of the samplers that merited such attention were wet cleaned using deionized water. After removal from old boards, we constructed new cloth-covered mounting boards. The samplers were stitched to their new boards around the perimeter and at strategic points in the interior of the sampler. All the samplers were given new frames with Optium UV-filtering Acrylic. Conservation on a majority of the samplers was completed in time to be returned to the house for the Fairbanks family reunion in August.
Conserving objects with such a rich family history and artistic context is always a wonderful opportunity, and we're grateful to the Fairbanks House for letting us do our part to help preserve these small treasures for future generations of the Fairbanks Family to enjoy.