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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: A Textile Transformation

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , textile conservation , embroidery , Folk Art

embroidery before and after conservation (detail)


 embroidery before and after conservation


This sampler has been the subject of a lot of learning.  Its original creator would have used the sampler to practice her ABCs and learn the intricate embroidery techniques considered essential to a young girl’s education when it was created in the 19th century.  Later, damage to the wool ground fabric had left some of the embroidery unsupported, so someone practiced some early conservation work and stitched the sampler to a patch to fill in what was lost and to support what remained.  Our materials and techniques for caring for objects have improved since then, so when the curator picked it to be displayed in the Folk Art Gallery, our textile conservator got to work.  The sampler underwent a new treatment with a better-matched patch and more precise realignment of the loose embroidery.  On the left, the sampler as it arrived in the lab, and on the right, the retreated sampler on its new patch and a padded mount board.  Stop by to see it hanging in the gallery now! 

Image Credit: Sampler, 19th Century, United States, wool ground and silk embroidery floss, Gift of Mrs. R. M. W. Taylor, 1903.287.