Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Focus on Fan Sticks

by Conservation

12/13/2018

behind the scenes , conservation , folding fan , The Lady's Adviser

Conservation treatments of the fans for the new installation The Lady’s Adviser: Love and Courting on Folding Fans is complete, and these objects will soon be on view in Gallery 213.  The installation is centered around the scenes depicted on the printed and painted leaves and the messages they convey.  Much of the repair work on the fans was done to the torn paper leaves, described in the November 6 Behind the Scenes in Conservation post.  While mending the tears, our paper conservator was able to closely examine the variety of sticks and guards (the larger outer sticks) that support the leaves. 

The materials fan makers chose were not dictated solely by what was in vogue at the time.  The selection could be affected by wars, embargos and other factors that limited what could be imported.  For example, when ivory imported from China became hard to obtain during the French Revolution, fan sticks might be made from locally available bone to create a similar appearance.  Shown here are several of the more elaborate examples of sticks made of ivory, horn and wood.