Textile Conservation Studio Internship

Textile Conservation Intern working on state bed at Blickling Hall

I am Rosie Butler-Hall, the new Textile Conservation Intern at the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio in Norfolk. I started working at the studio at the beginning of September following the completion of my MA in conservation of cultural Heritage at Lincoln University. Previous to that I had also completed a Graduate diploma in conservation of historic objects and a bachelor’s degree in textile design at Norwich University of the Arts.

I visited the studio in 2015 for a weeks work placement which is when I first found out about the internship. Alongside my post graduate degrees I also completed a number of other textile conservation placements, notably at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire, working on their Heritage Lottery funded tapestry conservation project, and at Strangers Hall in Norwich packing their textiles for storage. 

Latest updates

12 Feb 20

House Keeping Study Days Training

I was enrolled onto the housekeeping study days which was held at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire. The aim of the course is to introduce NT staff from conservators, to conservation assistants and house stewards to preventive conservation (or housekeeping) to apply in their own properties. The course covers a huge range of materials and types of objects providing an introduction to conservation handling, cleaning, planning and monitoring. Each material is split up into different sessions and taught by national specialists, conservators and advisors who specialize in the care and protection of those materials, such as textiles, carpets, flooring, stone and plaster, paper and books, metals and ceramics. Throughout the week the agents of deterioration were the main theme running through all the sessions which are; relative humidity, light, pests, dust, mechanical damage and mould these were discussed in relation to the different materials and management and prevention of damage was discussed. The sessions varied greatly, some were very hands on involving lots of teamwork with my fellow delegates and some sessions were more descriptive. The course taught me a great deal about materials I was very unfamiliar with, which will help inform my practice as a conservator throughout my career.

31 Jan 20

Sizergh tapestry wet cleaned at De Wit in Belgium

Myself and Claire travelled to Belgium to oversee the wet cleaning of the tapestry from Sizergh Castle at De Wit in Mechelen. The tapestry was laid flat on a suction bed and the space around the edge of the tapestry was blocked off with polythene to increase suction under the tapestry. The washroom was sealed and filled with a water mist that was sucked through the fibres of the tapestry to wet it out. Detergent was then added to the water mist and the wash cycle started, samples of the water were taken throughout the wash process to observe how much dirt was being removed, the pH was also recorded. Before being rinsed, the two people in charge of the wash brushed the tapestry to loosen any stubborn areas of dirt. It was rinsed in the same way using water mist and samples of this were taken too. The tapestry was blotted dry. After blotting the tapestry was 90% dry but was left overnight to ensure that it was bone dry before rolling and packing. The result after washing was a great success, areas such as the sky which had appeared very grey were now light blue in colour.

Water samples from Sizergh tapestry clean

02 Jan 20

Preparation of a tapestry from Sizergh castle

My next project was to assist senior textile conservator Claire in conserving a tapestry from Sizergh Castle. The tapestry was to be sent to Belgium for wet cleaning, but first needed to be stripped down and documented. The old lining was removed, revealing a large quantity of patches which had been used to strengthen areas of silk or patch missing areas. Along the top border alone there were 40+ patches, we removed some and left others in place as they provided strength. Each of the patches were documented before removal. Weakened areas of the tapestry were supported to provide extra support during washing. The tapestry was vacuumed and packed to be sent to De Wit for wet cleaning.

Textile conservation intern documenting a tapestry in the studio