Friday, July 31, 2009

Chinese Garments

These beautiful Chinese silk items were brought out for packing this week. Both are ceremonial garments dating to the late 1800's. The detail images below show the elaborate embroidery of traditional Chinese motifs in silk thread and metal wrapped thread.

Details of HLATC 1989.1.1, Court Robe

Detail of HLATC 1997.9.1, Dragon Jacket

Friday, July 24, 2009

Team Tyvek

A huge thank you goes out again to the Tyvek Team (left to right): Barb Tensfeldt, Judy Sidran, Barb Borders, Chris Motl, Teddy Zehner and HLATC staffer Maggie Ordon. Our tireless volunteers have been busy cutting and sewing tyvek sleeves for all of the HLATC's oversized rolled textiles. So far, they have created over 200 sleeves. No easy task and we definitely couldn't have done it without them!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Bell Pull

HLATC 1999.7.4

While we are primarily a "flat" textile collection (few garments) we do have our fair share of three dimensional objects. Most are tools used in creating textiles or they are objects which a textile is a part of, such as this Victorian bell pull, HLATC 1999.7.4. It was evident as soon as this piece came out of storage that it was going to need more than tissue paper padding to pack it safely. The bell pull was a packing challenge with its delicate, beaded textile element combined with very heavy and fairly sharp edged cast bronze pieces at either end.

To protect the textile from the metal, our first step was to pad out the spaces between the bronze ends and the textile with pieces of ethafoam wrapped in tissue. We used the ethafoam instead of just straight tissue pillows because the heavy, sharp edges would have torn through just tissue.

Next, we needed to immobilize the heavy bronze ends. This was done by placing the entire piece onto a piece of coroplast which had been cut to the exact size of the box it was to fit into. Slits had been cut in predetermind spots allowing us to thread cotton twill tape through them. A trusty paperclip worked beautifully for threading the twill tape through the slits.

The cotton twill tape was used to tie down the bronze ends, securing them to the board.

A layer of padding beneath the entire piece and a layer of padding covering it were all tied into place and voila! Our immobilized bell pull is ready for its box.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


HLATC 2000.5.1

This embroidered and fringed shawl, HLATC 2000.5.1, has recently been quite a project for the packing team. Densely embroidered with traditional Chinese motifs, the shawl was produced in China for the western European market in the late 19th century. The photos below show you a bit of how exquisitely embroidered the off-white silk shawl is.

And...the project. The silk shawl is fringed on all sides and after bringing the piece out of storage we found that much of that fringe had gotten tangled on itself. What this piece needed was a little TLC and a fringe envelope. Tara, Maggie, Aurelia and Laura each chose a side, sat down at the table and painstakingly untangled the fringe. After untangling, the fringe was then placed into fringe "envelopes" made of archival tissue, to prevent this situation from happening in the future.

The next step of sandwiching the fringe between pieces of blueboard to help fold the piece into a box without disturbing the fringe was unfortunately not captured on camera. Rest assured though, it was a success.

You may notice in these photos that we are not wearing the white cotton gloves you usually see us wearing. Very infrequently we are faced with an incredibly tactile task, such as untangling a very fine fringe, which cannot physically be done with gloves on. In such situations, rather than risk further damage through rough handling, we may work without gloves. If we cannot wear gloves, we are washing our hands with soap and water very frequently to keep as much oil and dirt off of our fingertips as possible. It is definitely a compromise though because your skin is constantly producing oil and no amount of cleaning removes all oils from fingertips.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

German Sampler

I apologize for the overdue posting, I was out of the office and hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park last week. Working in collections storage really leaves one aching for sunshine and outdoors!

Today I thought I would share one of the Collection's pieces with you, an early 1800s sampler, HLATC EAE267, from Western Germany. I wish I could have better captured how fine the embroidery work is on this piece. I tried to get incredibly close-up photos, but that just resulted in these slightly out of focus shots. I hope you can still get the gist of it.

Many different types of embroidery are represented on the sampler including: guilloche, holbein, seed stitch, and french knots, just to name a few. I especially love the blue and white colors used in the piece.

There isn't anything in the photo to really give you a sense of scale, you may get a better idea knowing that each of these little rectangles is only about 1" tall.