The inaugural MTS Learning Lab took place on Saturday, April 6th at our Andover, Massachusetts, textile conservation studio. The topic, Fiber & Fabric Identification, attracted 8 attendees from across New England and as far away as Kansas and Wisconsin.
MTS Director & Chief Conservation Camille Myers Breeze started the morning off with an in-depth presentation about fiber origins. The attendees were given 24 samples of natural and synthetic yarns to create a fiber-reference card while discussing their behavioral properties. When examined in their staple forms, yarns can be compared for strength, elasticity, texture, and shine, which illuminates why they are used for different kinds of fabrics and clothing.
The attendees were taught how to use bright-light microscopes to identify fiber slides Morgan taught them to make from fiber samples. They were especially excited to learn safe fiber-sampling techniques using clothing and textiles from the MTS Study Collection, which they can practice after returning to their home museums. All of the microscopy demonstrations were made easier with our new LabCam for iPhone, which allows for easy group viewing and instant photo capture using our AmScope T690C-DKO microscope.
In the afternoon, the class switched gears to discuss fabric structures while creating sample books of modern and historic materials. Many of our swatches were generously provided by our friends at Testfabrics, Inc. The day concluded by gathering around examples of textiles and costumes commonly found in museum collections for a hands-on conversation about why understanding what artifacts are made of is a key to their preservation.