In partial fulfillment of my internship at Museum Textile Services, I recently cleaned, repaired, mounted, and framed three lace objects that were donated to the study collection from a single family. I was fortunate to be able to spend an afternoon learning about the history of lace, manufacturing techniques, and how to identify various forms of lace.
The first of the three objects I conserved was worn by the ancestor of the donor, who lived in Oberlin, OH, in the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The hand-made cotton collar and its matching cuffs were salvaged from a garment, which indicates its value to the owner. Known as Irish Crochet, this technique of lace was first produced in the 1840s using an extremely thin steel crochet hook. After MTS conservator Morgan Carbone wetcleaned the collar with Sodium Borohydride, I mounted it with hand stitching to a fabric-covered archival board. A vintage grain-painted frame was found in an appropriate size, which I cleaned and toned to hide a flaw. The lace was framed with acrylic spacers behind UV-filtering glass.
The second of the three objects I conserved is an example of Teneriffe lace that was likely picked up in South America during the donor’s travels in the 1960’s. According to Heather Toomer, Teneriffe or “Sol work,” is a Spanish craft with known examples from as early as the 17th century. We learned about Teneriffe lace in 2016 when a customer brought three pieces for us to conserve, which gave us the idea to mount and frame the piece in the MTS study collection. Again, Morgan Carbone wetcleaned the lace and I mounted and framed it in another vintage grain-painted frame.
The third lace object I worked on is was from the donor’s childhood, which was spent in India during the 1950’s. It came to us sewn to a piece of blue paper with a card reading “Rajahmundry Lutheran Lace Industry E. Godavari Dist., India pattern no. 33 L.M. 484.” After doing a bit of research on this label, I learned that Rajahmundry is a center of textile production on the Godavari river in the eastern Indian province of Andhra Pradesh. A 1922 bulletin found online tells us that Lutheran missionaries trained women who had converted to Christianity in the art of lace making. The hand-made lace included needle lace, pin lace, and crochet, like the example I worked on, and the profits of the industry were used to support a “home for unprotected women.”
The Indian lace was wetcleaned and soon it will be mounted to a fabric-covered board like the previous examples. In order to frame the card along with the lace, an acid-free mat will be placed around the lace with a cut-out for the card to sit in. The card will be mounted with small dots of archival adhesive. This piece of lace will be framed behind UV-filtering glass in a newly purchased frame and will be displayed in the Museum Textile Services studio.