Care of Textiles

This workshop is an introduction to the care of costumes and textiles commonly found in Canadian collections. Fundamental information about fibres, structures and manufacturing processes that affect the long-term stability of textiles is provided. Both inherent and environmental agents of deterioration and typical signs of damage are described. A wide range of preventive conservation topics specifically related to textiles is explored. Basic conservation interventions are presented and demonstrated, and issues in ethical decision making are addressed.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • understand the composition and properties of fibres and structures and how they, in combination with different manufacturing processes, affect the long-term stability of textiles
  • recognize agents of deterioration and understand how they degrade textiles
  • carry out safe handling and documentation procedures for textiles
  • implement preventive conservation procedures for textiles
  • mount small, light, flat textiles

Units

Composition and identification

Natural and man-made fibres, basic fabric structures and manufacturing processes that affect the long-term stability of textiles.

Deterioration and damage

Environmental agents of deterioration such as light (including ultraviolet radiation), soils, relative humidity, temperature, acidic materials, pollutants, mechanical wear from original use and subsequent poor handling, and inappropriate storage and display materials. Inherent agents of deterioration such as dyes, bleaches, and finishes. Typical signs of damage.

Handling, examination and documentation

Proper handling procedures for flat textiles, historic costumes, costume accessories and oversized textiles. Examination procedures and condition reports. Labelling textiles and applying accession numbers.

Preventive conservation

Preventive conservation topics including light, environmental conditions, maintenance, security, fire protection, storage, display, safe materials, packing and transit, pest management, and disaster preparedness and response. Specific procedures for preservation of textiles, where possible.

Interventions

Basic conservation interventions, including safe methods of surface cleaning, stitching for simple repairs, mounting small, light, flat textiles and hanging textiles using the Velcro brand support system. Issues in ethical decision making. Demonstrations and hands-on sessions.

Target audience

Individuals with a professional or personal interest in museum or heirloom textiles, including costume and textile guilds or organizations, antique collectors, museum staff and volunteers, and members of the general public.

Language(s)

English (written materials available in both official languages)

Enrollment limits

Minimum 10, maximum 15

Duration

Two days

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