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Saturday, June 2 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Textiles) Taking the strain: Strain monitoring to inform tapestry conservation and display

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An innovative research project at the University of Glasgow, From the Golden Age to the Digital Age: Modelling and Monitoring Historic Tapestries, is using techniques from the field of engineering to provide information on conservation techniques and display methods for tapestry. While textile conservation procedures grew out of traditional repair techniques, since the 1960s the field has been characterised by a more scientific approach including a greater understanding of textile properties, the use of new materials and more refined conservation techniques. However to date there has been only a small amount of research into the physical and mechanical properties of historic textiles or their associated support materials. This project builds on work at the University of Southampton which showed that digital image correlation can be used to give highly visual information on the strain experienced by tapestries on display – strain maps can indicate areas at highest risk of damage and inform decisions about conservation treatments. As different traditions of tapestry conservation across Europe and the USA employ a range of different stitching methods, our current project is applying this technology to compare the effectiveness of a range of interventive treatments. This will provide tapestry conservators with additional data to complement visual information from the tapestry and to help them in selecting appropriate treatments. The researchers are also looking at tapestry display methods, including the use of slanted supports, which are becoming much more common for tapestry in Europe. Testing will demonstrate the degree of support provided by the slant, and the role of friction from the material covering the slanted support. The paper will report on the most recent project results, comparing data from model tapestries, and building on work to date which is already showing unexpected effects of hanging tapestries from Velcro® hook and loop fastener. The project team, from the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History and the School of Engineering in Glasgow, are working closely with textile conservators from Glasgow Museums as they prepare tapestries for display in the refurbished Burrell Collection in 2020. We have recently carried out monitoring of a 16th century tapestry before and after conservation treatment, and the results will be included in the discussion. A newly woven tapestry at Stirling Castle – one of a set modelled on the Unicorn tapestries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art - is also being monitored over a period of years, and this is informing improvements in the monitoring technique.

avatar for Frances Lennard

Frances Lennard

Professor of Textile Conservation, University Of Glasgow
Frances Lennard is the Director of the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History at the University of Glasgow and leads the MPhil Textile Conservation programme. She was previously the Programme Leader of the MA Textile Conservation at the Textile Conservation Centre... Read More →

avatar for Maggie Dobbie

Maggie Dobbie

Textile Conservator, Glasgow Museums
Maggie Dobbie is a textile conservator at Glasgow Museums, following a career in textile conservation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Saturday June 2, 2018 11:00am - 11:30am MDT
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Textiles