Conserving Lampshades from the Argory

Conservator dismantling a lampshade fom The Argory

Occasionally conservation treatment is just not viable. These lampshades from The Argory have had new silk shades with conservation treatment to the original beaded fringe.

The Argory in Northern Ireland, complete with its acetylene gas installation and light fittings, is an exceptionally rare survivor of a form of domestic lighting that enjoyed a period of popularity from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the late 1920s.

The drawing room has a six-arm chandelier and four matching two-arm wall brackets. All fourteen shades are made of delicate shades of pink silk and a glass-bead fringe.

Lampshades at The Argory
Lampshades on display at The Argory

The shades however are in very poor condition. The weight of the glass beads, as well as previous unstable fluctuating environments, have seen the fine silk fade, shred and deteriorate.
Realizing the lampshades were nearing the end of their natural lives, and that as much as possible had been done to preserve the silk, it was decided to replace the original silk with a new silk that is in keeping with the original.

Argory lampshade before conservation

The silk from the lampshade is so deteriorated that it is beyond conservation treatment.

Dismantled parts of the lampshade
Argory Lampshade Dismantled
The Argory Lampshade Beaded Fringe

The beaded fringe of this lampshade had 75 broken strands which were restrung, approx. 53 beads per strand… approx. 3975 beads restrung in total! Just over 18 hours work!

Lampshades at different stages of their conservation treatment
Argory Lampshades under treatment
Conservator re-attaching beaded fringe to lampshade from The Argory

Conservator re-attaching the original beaded fringe to the new silk lampshade.

Lampshade after conservation treatment
Completed lampshade from The Argory

Of the 14 lampshades, we have now completed 8. The other 6 will be worked on next year. The conservation work on each lampshade totals around 40 hours. 

Treated and untreated lampshades on display at The Argory
Treated and untreated lampshades on display at The Argory