Latest updates

04 Dec 18

Treating Lady Betty's Bed at Knole

In early December I accompanied Maria Jordan and Maria Pardos Mansilla on a site visit to Knole to complete a series of conservation treatments. On the first day we were lucky enough to be able to work in the new purpose built multi-disciplinary conservation studio. Our aim was to complete a series of first aid conservation treatments to a tester cloth from Lady Betty’s bed which was badly damaged. We needed to strengthen the holes in the linen cloth which hold the tester cloth in place over the pegs on top of the bed. These were badly distorted and had widened over time due to the strain being put on them. Using a plastic tape called Nomex® the whole length of the head end was strengthened by encasing the Nomex® tape in linen tape and stitching this over the damaged sections of the holes, reducing them in size and strengthening the areas as a whole. Other areas of the tester cloth which required attention were the holes in each of the four corners which fit over pegs on top of the bed to keep the tester cloth in place. Similarly to the head end these were strengthened using a square of Nomex® encased in two squares of linen tape and stitched over the holes. Finally the edges of the tester cloth which were made of silk had to be protected in polyester net which had been dyed previously to match. The net was fixed in place using running stitch and Gutterman polyester thread.

30 Nov 18

Conserving the coverlet from the Spangled bed, Knole

In October I started on a new project alongside Yoko Hanegreefs and Deborah Phipps conserving the Coverlet from the Spangled bed from Knole, Kent. The Spangled bed is a State bed that has been in the process of being conserved since late 2013, and is nearly complete apart from the coverlet which is the final component. The coverlet has many different material components, a linen backing red silk, with cream silk applique, golden spangles, cloth of silver and cloth of gold and metal braiding. The coverlet was taken to De Wit in Belgium to be wet cleaned by our studio team, prior to conservation at the studio. Due to the vast amount of damage to the cream silk applique stitch treatment could not be used alone. Using tinted Japanese tissue paper and adhesive, Klucel G with IMS, the very damaged areas of cream applique were overlaid using the prepared tissue paper using a paintbrush and the adhesive. The whole coverlet was worked through until all damaged areas of applique had been treated. In late November once the adhesive treatment was complete, stitching treatment began, which involved stitching the gold spangles back onto the coverlet, applying laid couching to very damaged areas of the red silk and applique, the braiding also had to be stitched back in areas where it had become loose. The deadline for the coverlet to be situated back in Knole is in mid-February, so time is tight and there’s no time to loose!

Conservators working on the Spangled bed coverlet

31 Oct 18

Attending the Conservators Plenary

In October I was lucky enough to accompany my Studio Manager Maria Jordan and fellow colleagues Rachel Langley and Yoko Hanegreefs to the National Trust conservators Plenary, held this year in Mid Wales. The Plenary brings together the conservators who work for the National Trust, alongside curators and other related employees to connect and see what is being done throughout the country. The first day was held in Powis Castle and there were a series of talks in the morning including a welcome from the Head Conservator Katy Lithgow and a presentation about a recent portrait exhibition being held at Powis. We were then invited to visit the exhibition and pass on our feedback. During the evening there was the opportunity to connect with fellow conservators throughout the evening, including regional conservators and the conservators from the new conservation studio at Knole. This was valuable to me to understand the relationships between the Trust and the conservators who work there, and how our relationship at the Textile Conservation Studio differs from these. On the following day the presentations were based in the hotel where there were a series of talks given by conservators about the projects that they had been working on. An especially notable one was the discussion of how curators and conservators can work together to help each other effectively and the different ways that this can be achieved. We also received a talk from Glyn Charnock about carpet conservation that had been carried out at Wimpole hall alongside Kysnia Marko and their reflections on this treatment.

Conservators outside Powis Casle