In order to center the mounted embroidery into the frame, someone had taped it to the back of the gold window mat. MTS conservator Cara Jordan was able to be remove most of the tape mechanically with limited loss of silk. Small areas of tape that were more difficult to remove were humidified, allowing Cara eventually to lift the tape from the silk.
In order to remount the embroidery, the orange lacing had to be removed. The thread was cut in a few key spots, after which it was easily unlaced from the silk ground. The orange thread was too weak to reuse, so it was returned to the client. To our surprise, the back corners and an area of deterioration on the front had been glued to the board. Cara successfully released these adhered areas with acetone.
We hope that you are as excited to see this embroidery at the McMullen as we are!
By Courtney Jason
On December 10, 2012, a shipment of 20 flags arrived at the MTS from Fort Knox, KY. These flags have a particularly interesting history, as many hail from the personal collection of General George Patton. They belong to the General George Patton Museum of Leadership, which is undergoing a major renovation and reinterpretation.
The Ft. Knox flags range from a 11.5" x 17" Confederate Calvary guide on to an 80" x 130" Nazi flag. The collection also includes several WWII Army flags, and a North Vietnamese flag that was recovered from a booby-trapped location. The collection is here to be cleaned, stabilized and mounted for display when the Patton Museum reopens later this year.
So far we have vacuumed the flags with a HEPA filtering vacuum to remove any particulate matter. Next we will humidify those with planar distortions using the Gore-Tex system described in a previous blog about the Orra White Hitchcock textiles from Amherst College.
The majority of the flags will be mounted on aluminum solid-support panels manufactured for us by Small Corp, Inc in Greenfield, MA. Each panel will have a layer of 1/4-inch Polyfelt from University Products in Holyoke, MA, covered with khaki-colored cotton poplin from Phillips-Boyne in Farmingdale, NY.
All of the flags except for the Nazi flag will be pressure mounted on a solid-support panel. They will be centered on the panel and hand stitched to the cotton using a curved needle. Only minimal stitching around the perimeter, along several strategic points in the body, and along the fringe, is required.
A sheet of UV-filtering acrylic will provide the rest of the support for the mount. The museum has chosen Small Corp's powder-coated aluminum frames to complete the mount system. The first batch of eight flags will undergo this process through mid to late April, before being shipped back in early May by US Art of Randolph, MA.
The Nazi flag will receive a different treatment due to its large size. A future blog will highlight this highly-technical process. We hope you're looking forward to seeing more of these flags as much as we're looking forward to working on them.
by Camille Myers Breeze
Our choice for favorite project from 2012 has to be the conservation of a baseball uniform belonging to the great Negro league player William "Cannonball" Jackman. As we learned from Sarah Berlinger's March 12th, 2012, blog Will "Cannonball" Jackman Comes to Life, he was perhaps the greatest player you've never heard of.
Prior to the completion of this project, Boston globe writer Joel Brown paid Museum Textile Services a visit to learn more about the project. His article, entitled "Preserving the Fabric of History," appeared in the April 19, 2012, issue of the Boston Globe North. Joel's article was a wonderful opportunity for us to let the public know about textile conservation and as a result we have seen a huge increase in the amount of sports memorabilia brought to MTS. In response, we launched a new Sports Memorabilia page in the Conservation section of our web page.
You can see some more images of the conservation of "Cannonball" Jackman's uniform in this short slideshow. Many thanks the Museum of African American History, Boston, and to all who worked on this project, including Cara, Courtney, Katey and Sarah.
by Camille Myers Breeze
For nearly a week, the Beard & Weil Galleries at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, was the scene of great collaboration and ingenuity as students of ARTH 335 Exhibition Design installed their Fall 2012 show, "100 Years 100 Objects." The exhibit showcases an object for each of the 100 years since Wheaton Female Seminary became Wheaton College.
Camille Breeze was hired to participate in two days of teaching and exhibit prep thanks to funding from the Art/Art History Department and the Evelyn Danzig Haas '39 Visiting Artist Program. After a short presentation about careers in conservation, Camille broke students into teams according to what remained to be done to install a pair of priceless textiles conserved by MTS.
The first team underwent the final framing of a silk embroidery depicting "Hagar and Ishmael are Cast Out by Abraham" (Genesis Chapter XXI), by Eliza Wheaton Strong (1795-1834). This exquisite textile is very fragile but together the team cleaned the framing materials, placed the embroidery behind the custom mat, and backed the new frame with Marvelseal before hanging it in the gallery.
The remaining student teams addressed tasks related to the mounting of the c 1780 costume of the Duchesse de Choiseul, which had been conserved at Museum Textile Services in 2012. You can read about this project in intern Gabrielle Ferreira's first and second blogs.
Josephine Johnson '13.
The bust of the custom manikin was covered with show fabric by senior Josephine Johnson, who is planning for a career in conservation. The base for the manikin was assembled by a team including senior Morgan Bakerman, who is writing her thesis about the dress.
A third team addresses the skirt support, which originally was accomplished with rigid paniers. Students started with a replica of the skirt made by Cara Jordan from cotton muslin. Next, they machine sewed 3-inch twill tape in two rows across the skirt and threaded flexible polypropylene tubing through the channel. The tubing provided the shape of the paniers, and additional pieces of twill tape tied across the underside created the correct, flat silhouette.
During the final push on Saturday afternoon, the base was attached to the exhibit platform, the manikin bust was installed, the paniers were tied to the manikin, and finally the costume was dressed.
Working with an academic institution like Wheaton College is one our favorite jobs at Museum Textile Services. Many thanks go out to Leah Niederstadt, Museum Studies Professor and Curator of the Permanent Collection, and Zeph Stickney, Archivist and Special Collections Curator, for asking Camille to help in this intense and rewarding project.
With the arrival of spring in Massachusetts came a flurry of activity surrounding the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Several regional museum exhibits will feature textiles conserved by Museum Textile Services. You can read about three projects here, but nothing takes the place of visiting a museum and seeing the actual artifacts for yourself!
One Foot Square, Quilted & Bound at the New England Quit Museum includes rare and never-before-displayed Civil War artifacts and fabrics. One of the highlights is a rare glazed-cotton "potholder" quilt from Portland, Maine, on loan from the Brick Store Museum. Prior to exhibition, this quilt required stabilization to the splitting silks and reinforcement of the stitches that hold together the twenty individual blocks. This quilt is on display through July 10 at the Lowell museum, 18 Shattuck Street. Read more in the Eagle Tribune.
When Duty Whispers: Concord and the Civil War features an extremely important flag on loan to the Concord Museum from the near-by Middlesex School. The First National colors of the Massachusetts 55 Volunteer Regiment was issues in July 1863 but was not used on campaign. It was given to Middlesex School by Col. N. P. Hallowell, who a trustee there from 1902 until his death in 1914. The flag was restored by Hallowell's daughter in 1972 and was on permanent exhibit at the Warburgh Library for almost 40 years. A successful fund-raising campaign allowed Museum Textile Services to conserve and remount the flag, which will now live in a custom display case built by Spokeshave Design. The Flag can be viewed at the Concord Museum through September 18, 2011, before it is returned to Middlesex School. Read more in the April 3, 2011, Boston Globe.
Commemorating Our Role in the Civil War 150 Years Later is the title of this summer's exhibit from the Framingham History Center. Among the historic artifacts on display will be the "Citizen's Flag," a Civil war-era garrison-sized American flag made of wool bunting with cotton stars. The flag was donated to the town of Framingham in 1892 according to vintage printed labels on either side of the hoist binding. Before entering the museum's collection, the flag was exposed to extreme soot which left it discolored and brittle. Museum Textile Services was able to remove the sooty deposits with gentle wetcleaning and then stabilize the flag and install a Velcro hanging system. The visual impact of this large flag hanging overhead is not to be missed! It is on view from June 11, 2011, at the Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak Street, from 10:00am4:00 pm. A full calendar of Civil War events in Framingham is available here.