TSG Chapter IV. Documentation of Textiles - Section D. Types of Documentation

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The Textile Conservation Catalog

D. Types of documentation

Date: April 2, 1998
Original Draft: Susan Heald
Contributors: Lucy Commoner, Judith Eisenberg, Patricia Ewer, Lorna Filippini, Gaelen Gorden, Martha Winslow Grimm, Jane Hutchins, Marlene Jaffe, Susan Anne Mathisen, Jane Merritt, Denise K. Migdail, Meredith Montague, Zoe Perkins, Sara Reiter, Gwen Spicer, Suzanne Thomassen-Krauss, Deborah Trupin
Editors: M. Cynthia Hughes, Jane Lynn Merritt, Deborah Trupin, Sara J. Wolf

Statement of Purpose

The Textile Conservation Catalog records current conservation treatments and practices for artistic and historic textiles. Each chapter compiles the variety of treatments and techniques currently used by textile conservators. The Catalog is a voluntary, cooperative project of the Textile Specialty Group of the AIC. Participating members have developed and commented extensively on the chapters.

The Catalog is in the form of an outline. There are no detailed instructions for treatment, and the Catalog does not seek to establish definitive methods or standards. Entries are qualifies by including “factors to consider,” however the inclusion of a treatment in the Catalog is not an endorsement or approval of the procedures described. The Catalog is designed for trained textile conservators who are familiar with the vocabulary and processes included in the outlines. Chapters are intended to be a guide in the treatment decision-making process and allow conservators to explore treatment options. Each conservator remains responsible for the safety and appropriateness of any treatment.

Although the focus of the Catalog is conservation treatment, related subjects such as environment, storage, and exhibition are included, but only insofar as the describe issues met and actions taken by textile conservators.

Final Revision, April 2, 1998

7.3.1 Examination/condition report
7.3.2 Treatment plan or proposal
7.3.3 Post-treatment Report

7.3.1 Examination/condition report

made to assess the condition of a textile at a given moment in time. This report should include a description of the textile, construction details, and descriptions of the types and causes of damage (from age and original use), areas of loss and discoloration, changes or repairs it has sustained. It may be done as part of the acquisitions process, as a precursor to a treatment proposal, or prior to and following exhibition. Standard sections for this report include:

A. Title or identifying description of an object, accession or job number, date (if known), and storage location.
B. Owner of object (or contact person) including address and phone number.
C. Description of the textile [N.B. Amount of detail may vary].
1. Structure of textile - method of fabrication, weave structure, thread count, yarn diameter, twist and ply, fiber
2. Colors
3. Inscription or identifying labels
4. If costume, type of sleeve, bodice shape, skirt style, description of silhouette
5. Embellishments
6. Finish
7. If upholstery, layers which are visible, construction methods
D. Name of examiner and date.
E. Historical documentation as it relates to conservation treatment.
F. History of piece, how it has been used and how it will be used. If privately owned, future use may affect treatment.
G. Dimensions - overall measurements given in inches and centimeters with notes on warp and weft direction and any lack of symmetry or variations and specific measurements needed for storage or mount construction. For costume, this may include pattern reconstruction. It may be useful to include pattern repeat measurements, width between selvedges, and the loom woven width (for a pieced or multiple joined panel object).
H. Testing methods and material identification of components. Record type of analysis, techniques used, location where taken or read, and results.
1. Non-destructive test methods: visual examination under various light sources; colorimetry; some methods of testing for colorfastness
2. Destructive test methods (requiring samples): microscopy for fiber i.d., chemical tests for dyes or finishes, instrumental analysis, some methods of testing for colorfastness, stain analysis
a. sample taking should be approved by custodian
b. remove the minimum amount required for analysis [N.B. consider retaining samples if not consumed by the method of analysis; factors to consider in determining whether or not samples should be retained include: difficulty of obtaining further samples; the significance of the piece; if results differ from those predicted by visual identification or previous information; request of custodian/owner.]
(c) document the site from which the sample was removed
I. Description of condition including location, extent and cause of damage.
1. Losses, abrasions, tears, holes - indicate size, shape and location
2. Usage, prior handling, storage or display conditions that may have affected the current state of the object, current mounting technique
3. Infestation - indicate whether previous or active; identify organism if possible
4. Previous repairs, alterations, and conservation. Note if treatment(s) have caused any additional stress or damage
J. Visual aids to describe condition and damage
1. Sketches and diagrams
2. Photographs
3. Color coded photocopies of photographs locating damage
4. Radiographs
5. Tracings of photo or overlay of textile
6. Digitalized annotated computer images

7.3.2 Treatment plan or proposal

A. Objectives and goals of treatment.
B. Outline for treatment procedures with justifications or reasons.
C. Alternative approaches if applicable with justifications or reasons, and any additional treatment the conservator feels is optional.
D. Estimate for treatment time.
E. Possible risks of treatment, and if necessary, possible consequence for not treating or addressing present problems.
F. Possible need for additional mount, or solutions for storage, including dust cover.
G. Signature of approval from authority such as the owner, curator, institutional representative.
H. Owner's written approval for any change to previously approved treatment proposal.
I. Name of examiner and date.

7.3.3 Post-treatment Report

A. Reiteration of goals of treatment.
B. Materials used, with trade names and chemical formulae (if known). Include dilutions, solvents used, or special preparations of materials. Include samples of materials used if appropriate to save.
C. Description of treatment steps and techniques used. Note any changes to original treatment proposal and include justification for the changes.
D. Bibliography listing references concerning object treated, technique, equipment and materials used, as appropriate.
E. Additional information discovered during treatment.
F. Damage which occurred during treatment.
G. Evaluation of treatment if desired.
H. Record of any materials removed during treatment, their original location and their disposition, and, if possible, include samples of those materials.
I. Recommendations for future care of object, such as, maximum display time, special exhibition requirements, availability for loan.
J. Details of photographic and other documentation, including film type, and location for storage of these items if not stored or included with the report.
K. Name of conservator(s) participating in treatment.
L. Dates of treatment and amount of time required to complete treatment.

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