Saturday, 4 March 2006

Cultural Values in Textiles

There is a timely post on sharonb's blog about the cultural value of textiles. If you go to this post you will see the cultural textile that is currently at my place.

It is a very degraded signature cloth, on an equally degraded back, with very degraded sides.

The dilemma I face, is what do I do?

If the cloth is merely a document, I should maybe very carefully photograph and document all signatures, and then just throw it out. (I can hear screams). (And, in passing, the museum it has been handed to is in the original old church this cloth was made for in 1918).

If, however, it is an artifact, not just a document, that people will seek to interact with, I should preserve/conserve (but not restore) it.

To a degree I can do this by carefully stitching it to a supportive backing (with the interestingly hodge-podge back covered). The stitches should be able to be seen, so that it is obvious this is a modern protection. But the thread should blend. I think. Or I might go the full way and actually stitch straps of bias on top, as thread will just rip the already rotten cloth.

Or, I should carefully take off the back (if it is possible), and stitch both front and back onto separate supports, using bias tape. Then both can be seen and supported.

And the red edges? Very badly degraded, nothing to document - if I remove them I can better preserve the centre. But that removes some of the history of the object. I don't think putting new red edges on is an option.

The whole gets stored on an archivally correct cylinder, and archivally covered - but it sure is providing a real headache as to what happens with it.

Then, museum theory says that all objects are documents anyway, as they all tell us something ..... But the conservation of textiles, especially in small country museums with no funds, real expertise ot proper storage areas, is a whole horror area.

And I need to be elsewhere, rather than rabbiting on here!


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