Textile Conservation Studio Internship

Project
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

11 Dec 19

Conservation of a Chinoiserie tapestry from the Vyne – Stitching

The linen support fabric was stitched to the aprons on the beams using a herringbone stitch, and the tapestry was then pulled over the top of the linen and lined up with the first scrim line. The tapestry was pinned into place ensuring the centre line on the linen and the tapestry were lined up, and a blanket stitch was worked over the edge of the tapestry to hold it down to the linen using a neutral colour of cotton thread. The sides of the tapestry were held down to the linen using a herringbone stitch that would eventually be covered with a newly woven galloon. The predominant areas of the tapestry which required most conservation stitching was the dark brown wool in the background which had degraded most over time, due to the iron mordant in the dye corroding the wool fibres. There were also large areas of loss to the silk in the figures and plants in the scene which required couching to fill these areas in. These were stitched using two strands of cotton thread in similar colours to the original silk and the couching was stitched very closely together varying from 1.5 mm – 3mm. The Vyne tapestries are very finely woven, meaning that the warp threads are very thin and spindly with about 7 warps per 1cm. This means that all of the couching that is required has to be stitched very close together to make any visual impact. The dark brown wool areas were stitched with dotted couching using a single strand of dark brown wool, the couching was only worked in the most damaged areas to improve strength and the visual appearance of the tapestry. Because the warps were so fine within the tapestry, the wool we would usually use for re-warping was too thick, so a weft thickness wool had to be used instead to channel through the fragile silk and wool.

31 Oct 19

Conservation of a Chinoiserie tapestry from the Vyne – Setting up

A set of six Chinoiserie style tapestries from The Vyne, a Tudor mansion in Hampshire required varying amounts of conservation to the silk and wool found throughout. We have three of the six tapestries and one entrusted to me to complete as intern. Each of the Levy interns in their second year at the studio is given a project to manage and complete solely on their own. The tapestry I have been working on is situated above the door in the library so is small and square in shape measuring 120cm x 123cm. A small frame had to be altered to work on the tapestry and a carpenter was commissioned to make a set of paddles, which could control the tension of the tapestry whilst it was on the frame. I used tapestry guidelines written by the studio to help me attach the tapestry to the frame, although a certain amount of alterations were necessary as the aprons attached to the beams were too long to fit into the frame, these were unpicked and stitched to the right length. The centre of the tapestry was found using a set square and a line stitched between two warps using bright polyester pink thread, this could then be lined up with the centre line on the aprons attached to the beams ensuring that the tapestry would roll straight whilst on the frame, the same thing was completed for the linen scrim. The tapestry was stitched to each of the beams using a large herringbone stitch and rolled onto on of the beams in preparation for conservation

08 Aug 19

Wet cleaning of an embroidered footstool cover from Mottisfont Abbey

The National Trust textile conservation studio occasionally work in collaboration with other conservators and studios, in the case of this project we worked in collaboration with Heather Porter upholstery conservator who’s based in the conservation studio in NT Knole. An embroidered footstool cover from Mottisfont Abbey was sent to the textile conservation studio for wet cleaning as the cream wool of the embroidery had become very dirty. Removal of adhesive was also required around the edge of the embroidery where a braid had been attached. Following testing, acetone was selected to remove the adhesive residue using swabs and blotting paper, this was a very effective method of removal and revealed the original light cream colour of the wool. The next stage of the treatment was to complete wet cleaning, samples of each colour of dyed wool were taken from the back. Dye fastness test were carried out using detergent in soft water, and deionised water, and the samples were kept wet for 24 hour with no noticeable dye run. The embroidered footstool was washed in a mixture of soft water and Dehypon detergent and rinsed between each wash bath using soft water. Following the wet cleaning the embroidery was stretched to size and pinned squarely whilst it dried to ensure that it would fit onto the footstool it was to be reattached to. Once dry, the embroidery was stitched to a piece of linen in preparation for it to be sent back to Heather Porter for reupholstering to the footstool.

Textile Conservation Intern Rosie wet cleaning footstool cover