In our previous blog post we talked about Lily Yeats and her role in the Arts and Crafts movement in Ireland. Today we will be discussing the various methods used to conserve and frame this historic embroidery, which will be on display at the McMullen Museum at Boston College from February 5 to June 6, 2016, as a part of the exhibit “The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making it Irish.”
When Museum Textile Services received the embroidery it was mounted onto an acidic board behind a gold paper mat inside an oak frame. The ground silk was wrapped around to the back side of the board and strung with orange linen thread. The mounted object was quite a bit smaller than its frame.
Cara remounted the embroidery onto a board of the same size as the original because the deep folds in the ground silk retained a memory of that shape. She lightly tensioned the embroidery around a new archival 8-ply board to which she had attached cotton poplin. While the embroidery was face up, it was hand stitched to the outer edge of the board using DMC cotton thread. It was then flipped over onto a padded surface and the folds of fabric were arranged on the back of the board before being hand stitched in place. The embroidery was then flipped face up again and Cara placed a network of hand stitching around the figures. Once the embroidery was properly mounted, the areas of damage were couched to the fabric-covered board with Gütermann Skala polyester thread.
Since the newly mounted embroidery was smaller than the frame, Cara needed to make a spacer system to properly position the embroidery. She cut a ring of corrugated polypropylene and covered the interior edge with archival frame tape. A new gold mat was cut for the piece to hide the sharp line between the faded front and the still-green sides. The mat was adhered to the polypropylene spacer with archival double-stick tape. The embroidery was then framed behind UV-filtering glass in its oak frame.