By Camille Myers Breeze
This week we introduce a new blog theme featuring before and after images and histories of textiles we are treating. Let us know what you think!
In one of the earliest MTS Blogs, Sarah Berlinger introduced readers to the Olympic uniform of hockey player Gordon Smith. Mr. Smith is an alumnus of Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, who are the owners of his prestigious garments. In the midst of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, we thought we'd show you the results of the conservation treatment.
Some highlights of this treatment include dying wool roving a matching shade of ecru and needle punching it to a cotton substrate. These patches were placed behind areas of loss and lightly needle punched to the coat to integrate. Although visually continuous, these patches can be removed in the future if necessary.
All of our display mounts were made of archival Ethafoam and polyester padding with a tan cotton/poly jersey as the show fabric.The deteriorated silk bow was removed from the hat and returned to the owner. A new bow was made from polyester ribbon (the cut edges were painted with archival adhesive to prevent unraveling.) One missing button was replaced with a similar button painted to match.
This project took a year to complete and was returned to Middlesex School in time to be displayed at the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. You can learn more about conservation of sports memorabilia in the conservation section of the web site.
Many thanks to Middlesex School, Historic New England and the entire MTS conservation team, especially Sarah Berlinger, Cara Jordan, and Courtney Jason.
by Sarah Berlinger
The conservation of a Bicentennial felt flag from the Hanover Historical Society of Hanover, Massachusetts, presented MTS with a unique quandary: what is the best way to patch the pest-damaged felt flag while maintaining a color and texture consistent with the original object? The answer: Needle felting!
After several tries of making the patch with various shades of blue cotton fabric, it was determined that not only were the colors not a match, but the tight weave of the cotton did not possess the same loft of the felt flag. Using wool roving in shades of blue, gray, white, and brown, small amounts of fibers from each color were blended together by hand until a color match was found, including allowances for color damage through soil deposits, light, and age. After the flag was humidified to reduce wrinkling and spot cleaned to reduce localized soil deposits, a map of the missing areas of the flag was traced onto a lightweight, non-woven polyester substrate (Reemay®).
Using a needle felting tool and mat, the blended wool roving was felted into the template traced on the substrate. The patch was placed under the object and the roving was lined up with the losses in the flag. A small amount of felting was done where the patch edge met the object edge, to achieve a seamless transition. After the patch was securely fastened to the flag, a cotton backing fabric was attached, adding a layer of stability to the entire object.
From the photograph at the beginning of this post, it's clear to see that needle felting was the best choice for making an effective repair to the Bicentennial flag. In addition to conserving the flag, we added a new skill to the MTS repertoire, and one that will serve us well in the years to come.