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Friday, June 1 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Textiles) The Use Of Paper-Based Materials For The Treatment Of Plant Fiber

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The collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (AfricaMuseum) encompasses a broad range of objects that contain plant fibers. Those plant fibers are sensitive materials which can damage easily due to handling, light exposure and fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature. Consequently the fibers of the objects are often discolored, deformed or broken and multiple objects are actively shedding fibers or suffer from ‘baldness’.
Some plant fiber objects selected for exhibition in the renovated AfricaMuseum were too degraded to be displayed. The plant fibers were treated with paper materials in order to stabilize the objects and improve their readability. Multiple products can be grouped under the term ‘paper based Materials’, such as Japanese tissue, archival grade paper and cellulose pulp. These materials are not commonly used in textile conservation. The products have specific sets of characteristics  that can be applied to the divers treatments of objects, ranging from structural fills to thin protective coatings. Paper fibers are strong, light-weight, flexible and they can be toned with well-known conservation grade paints and dyes to mimic the appearances of the original object. The versatility of the paper based materials will be demonstrated through several treatments that are on the verge between the disciplines of textile, object and paper conservation.
This paper will focus on multiple case studies carried out by the conservation lab of the AfricaMuseum. For the treatment of two African plant fiber masks, Japanese tissue and Arbocel 400 were used for loss compensation and fiber support. Furthermore Japanese tissue has been used as a substitute for plant fiber cord, with well be documented through the treatment of a dance costume made from knotted plant fiber. Thick bands of Japanese paper also proved to be the ideal support for the support and stabilization of the woven plant fibers from a burial mat. An even thicker band of conservation grade paper paperboard was used to recreate pieces of the waistband from a skirt made out of thick plant fibers. A short overview will be given of other African objects that were treated with paper material such as drums, figurines and string instruments.
Japanese tissue, conservation grade archival paper and cellulose pulp have become staple materials in the conservation lab. The variety of the papers and cellulose pulp available is huge and their versatility can be even further adjusted by the choice of dye/paint and adhesives or through additions of other materials. Paper based materials have often proved to be the perfect fit for the treatment of the diverse collection of the AfricaMuseum; were conservation is a cross-discipline between objects, textile and paper conservation.

avatar for Anoek De Paepe

Anoek De Paepe

Objects conservator, Royal Museum for Central Africa
Anoek De Paepe is an object conservator at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren, Belgium. As the museum is being renovated, she is currently working on the preparing the objects for the reopening of the museum at the end of 2018. In 2016 she received her master’s... Read More →

avatar for Marieke van Es

Marieke van Es

Conservator, Royal Museum for Central Africa
Marieke van Es graduated at the University of Antwerp were she received her master degree in conservation and restoration. After graduating she started to work at the Fashion Museum in Antwerp. Since 2014 she is working at the RMCA were she is preparing the object for the renovated... Read More →

Siska Genbrugge

Objects Conservator, Royal Museum for Central Africa
Siska Genbrugge is objects conservator at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren, Belgium. Prior to her appointment at the RMCA she was assistant objects conservator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Siska completed her MA degree in conservation as a... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am MDT
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Textiles