As I write this fall news column, I am enjoying a rare moment of quiet in the studio. The air conditioner is off, Cara is back at Harvard for her Wednesday class, and the phone is silent. It reminds me of what being self-employed used to feel like in 1999, when Museum Textile Services took up a small room in my house, I could work in my pajamas, and I had only cats for company.
Since January I’ve wondered whether this, our tenth anniversary year, would bring continued growth even in light of the slow economy. Luckily, we are as busy as ever with current projects and future plans. My business advisor, Ruth Sheets, will tell me that luck has nothing to do with it and that we owe our success to hard work and a reputation earned from years of successful conservation treatments and collaborations. Either way I am grateful for the scope and quantity of textile projects and the wonderful team with whom I get to work.
Cara Jordan has now been the Conservation Assistant for two years while also working toward her master's degree in Museum Studies at the Harvard Extension School. Cara is the glue that holds us all together on most days. She helps supervise interns, provides feedback, and still maintains the most billable hours. Cara loves innovation and will research any idea, article, or material. She also makes us laugh even when we’re the butt of the joke. I can’t imagine having made it this far with this much fun without Cara.
Our volunteer interns bring with them an array of knowledge on all aspects of textiles and a willingness to work hard while acquiring additional skills. Alice, Ella, and Jessie share a love of museum objects as well as excellent hand skills. Halaina is turning ten years of project records into a searchable database with her amazing patience and sense of organization. Kara and Colleen have moved on to full-time jobs at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Brandeis University, respectively, and Kaleigh is now a senior at Bates College writing a thesis on Native American dolls. Many thanks and good luck to you all.
Friend and colleague Andrew Grilz came on board this spring to help with a grant-funded collections-management project at a local historical society. Andy had been laid off from his previous job due to budget cuts, a story we hear over and over from our museum friends, so we were glad to be able to work together. Many thanks are also due to our new bookkeeper, Jodi Oberto, to our long-time web designer, Amy Malkoff, to Brent Arsenault for the new splash page for the website, and to the previously mentioned business guru Ruth Sheets of Ducks in a Row Consulting.
Already in 2009 we have worked on samplers, embroideries, beaded textiles, quilts, coverlets, tapestries, upholstery, pillows, fans, wall hangings, rugs, a painted banner, a hammock, a chuppah, nineteenth- and twentieth-century women’s dresses and blouses, a christening gown, wedding dresses, a fur coat, kimonos, military uniforms, top hats and a bonnet, flags, a parchment scroll, a Panamanian mola, a Native American shield cover, a pre-Columbian textile, bark cloths, and other ethnographic textiles from Peru, Indonesia, and New Guinea. What a privilege it is to play a role in the preservation of such diverse works of art! This is the fuel that keeps us going, feeds our curiosity, and makes conservation such a rewarding career.
Here’s to many more years to come!
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