by Camille Myers Breeze
In celebration of Valentines Day, we're sharing one of the most romantic projects ever to come to Museum Textile Services. Early in 2011, we received a call from a young woman who had a family wedding veil in need of conservation. She and her sister were both getting married and both wished carry on the family tradition of wearing the veil.
Photograph by David Loehwing.
Marjorie Affel, pictured throughout this blog, and her sister Sarah, are the fourth generation of their family to wear the veil. It had last been conserved in the 1980s on the occasion of their mother, Ellen Flagg Affel's wedding.
At that time, the entire veil had been backed with a single piece of fine nylon bobbinet to provide overall support. Areas of weakness were hand stitched to the bobbinet with fine cotton thread. A modern headband was fastened to the top of the veil. The veil may also have been wetcleaned in the 1980s. After Ellen's wedding, the family veil was carefully packed in an acid-free cardboard box for storage.
Museum Textile Services received the veil and I assessed its condition. It did not need cleaning beyond careful vacuuming with a high-efficiency filtered micro vacuum. Several previous repairs were found to still be sound, but a few were now loose. In addition, some of the applied ribbon that forms part of the veil's decoration were lifting because the stitches holding them had broken. The veil was heavily creased from being folded in its storage box.
Conservation was completed in the summer of 2011 and the veil was returned gently draped in a cotton garment bag. In 2012, after the weddings were over, the veil returned to MTS. It was again assessed and found to be clean and stable. After careful vacuuming, the veil was packed in a new, archival corrugated poly- propylene storage box. The new box should last longer than the previous one because it will not re-acidify, as the old acid-free box has.
In the photo below, all but the youngest woman has worn the family veil in her wedding. Museum Textile Services is honored to play a role in preserving this wonderful family tradition.