Tapestry Conservation

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Tapestry Conservation[edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Historical Approaches to Care of Tapestries[edit | edit source]

Conservation of Tapestries[edit | edit source]

Working Methods[edit | edit source]

Loom[edit | edit source]

Tension Table[edit | edit source]

Materials[edit | edit source]

Threads and yarns[edit | edit source]

Materials used in tapestry conservation vary between methodology. The most common approach is to choose something which visually blends from a distance but is distinct from original material when viewed up-close. Color, texture, thickness, and strength of yarn must all be considered before use. Common threads are outlined below:

  • Wool

Specially dyed woolen yarns, either plied or unplied, are often used to replace missing warps or wefts, replicating original materials. Whether used for re-warping or infilling loss, the twist and weight of the yarn should be taken into consideration. Too thick, and the new yarns could damage dense weave structures. Too thin and the yarns may not perform as needed or not represent the original design well.

  • Silk

Silk is most often used for infilling lost areas of weft to ensure the original design can be read. Its luster is useful for brightening up areas where original material has been lost. If facilities allow, silk can be dyed in many different colors with relative ease or purchased in a range of colors on a reel. Silk floss can be held in mixed colors to blend better with original materials. In some practices, fine silk threads are used to sympathetically couch down warp threads – following the twist of the warp from top to bottom, without adding or replacing colors.

  • Polyester

The strength of polyester fibers makes them useful for adding strength into treatments where the object is likely to be displayed for a long period of time. The variety of available weights and colors also makes it easy to blend in with original materials. Depending on the techniques employed, polyester may be used on its own or held double with a silk or woolen yarn. Gütermann sewing threads are often used. Polyester sewing machine thread can also be used for stitching support and lining materials.

  • Cotton

Cotton, especially stranded cotton, is used in place of silk to add color and luster to areas of lost weft threads. In some instances, it may also be used for laid-thread couching over larger areas of weak wefts. Mercerized cotton has a shinier appearance than non-mercerized Cotton sewing machine thread can also be used for stitching support and lining materials.

Tapestry needles some in a variety of sizes, but most common for tapestry conservation are 22, 24 or 26. The smaller the number, the larger the needle. Tapestry needles are blunter than standard sewing needles, which makes them less likely to puncture original material and more likely to find the natural holes in the weave structure.

Support fabrics[edit | edit source]

Lining fabrics[edit | edit source]

Loss Compensation[edit | edit source]

Reweaving[edit | edit source]

Stitching[edit | edit source]

Dyeing[edit | edit source]

Painting[edit | edit source]

Digital Printing[edit | edit source]

Cleaning[edit | edit source]

Mechanical Cleaning[edit | edit source]

Wet Cleaning[edit | edit source]

Support Techniques[edit | edit source]

Full Support[edit | edit source]

Strapping[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Asai, Kaori, Emma Biggs, Patricia Ewer and Kathryn Hallett. 2008. “Tapestry Conservation Traditions: An Analysis of Support Techniques for Large Hanging Textiles.” In ICOM Committee for Conservation preprints. 15th Triennial Meeting, New Delhi. Paris: ICOM. 2:967-75.

Brosens, Koenraad, and Yvan Maes De Wit. 2019. Tapestry Production and Conservation: 125 Years of De Wit Royal Manufacturers of Tapestry. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers.

Cleland, Elizabeth, Marjorie E. Wieseman, Francesca De Luca, Alessandra Griffo, and Costanza Perron Da Zara. 2019. Renaissance Splendor: Catherine de' Medici's Valois Tapestries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Getts, Anne and Sarah Gates. 2019. “In-Painting for Old Tapestry Repairs: A Non-Traditional Approach to Restoring Tapestry Legibility.” In North American Textile Conservation Conference preprints. 12th Biennial Meeting, Ottawa-Gatineau. NATCC: 119-133.

Goodin, Dana. 2017. “Agarose Two Ways: Successes and Challenges in Large-Scale Gel Applications.” In AIC Textile Specialty Group Postprints. American Institute for Conservation 45th Annual Meeting, Chicago. Washington, DC: AIC 161-175.

Larochette, Jean Pierre and Yadin Larochette. 2020. Anatomy of a Tapestry: Techniques, Materials, Care. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing.

Lennard, Frances, and Maria Hayward. 2006. Tapestry Conservation: Principles and Practice. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Marko, Ksynia. 2020. Woven Tapestry: Guidelines for Conservation. London: Archetype Publications.

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