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

29 Jan 21

One final project - Spangled Bed cushion

In the early part of my internship I was fortunate to work on the coverlet from the Spangled bed, consolidating applique and learning stitch techniques to stabilise and strengthen this fabric from the 1620s. As a final part to my internship I have been given the project management of a cushion from this suite of furniture at Knole. On examining the cushion, we noticed that the top cover had been sewn onto another layer of what hinted to be applique. Upon deconstructing the layers, I realised that underneath this top layer was another hidden layer of strapwork applique fabric and was amazed to find that this design had not been found anywhere else on the bed. This treatment included washing, surface cleaning and consolidating the pieces with full stitch and localised paper support, which is a culmination of many of the techniques I have learnt in my two-year internship.

Textile Conservation Intern Rosie washing cushion cover

30 Nov 20

Covid safe lining a tapestry

The global pandemic having led to a pause in my internship and coming back in September, we were faced with the giant task of lining the Gideon tapestry from Hardwick that we had just finished prior to lockdown. The last tapestry of this size apparently took the whole team to line, but with our new Covid safe working environment we have had to work in pairs. Lining a tapestry gives a protective layer of cotton cambric to the back and is carefully attached with lines of stitching. This lock stitching allows the lining to be ‘locked’ in place and when hung the excess lining fabric does not unevenly distribute or distort the tapestry. The expert guidance from Elaine gave me a passion for the methodical process of lining for which we have predefined measurements to ensure that all the work is the same I loved learning how to line a tapestry, and the Gideon was certainly the one to learn on as it seemed never ending at some points.

Textile Conservation Studio Conservators lining a tapestry

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.