Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Care of Textiles I at the Campbell Center

Last week, I ventured to Mt. Carroll, Illinois to attend a conservation workshop, Care of Textiles I at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation.

Earlier this summer, I had attended Care of Furniture and Wooden Objects, so this was my second visit.
Situated on the grounds of a former woman's college, the Campbell Center has been devoted to historic preservation since 1980, which brings conservators and museum professionals from all over the conuntry to rural Mt. Carroll.

Becuase of the class' size (there were only five of us), there was the opportunity to much hands-on learning and instruction from our instructor, Harold Mailand who is a textile conservator from Indianapolis.

So, what did I learn?

1. Fiber Identification: By using a microscope, we studied different fiber structures to differentiate between the four main fiber types: wool, flax, silk and cotton.

2. Fabric patterns: By looking at the weave structure of fibers under a microscope, I can now identify between satin, plain and twill weaves. We also learned about more complex fabrics and differing manufacturing methods.

3. Textile Care/Storage: Most of this was a refresher for me, since I had already learned most of the information in graduate school. But I found out about the amazing properties of Abaca, a soft fabric that can be used to pad textiles that are fragile, or prone to tearing, like metallic silk.

4. Stitching: This was the most eye-opening for me. Sewing was a foreign concept to me, but after this class, I feel like a master! I master the running, back, blind and button-hole stitches.

For our final project, we were given a textile from the center's collection and tasked with identifying its fibers, agents of deterioration and to make recommendations in terms of storage and exhibition. All in all, it was a worthwhile class and journey and I'm looking forward to setting up a textile/furniture lab in our new warehouse space!
This is a photo of our class. Our instructor, Harold is to the right of me.