In connection with the display of the Chancay gauze, there are additional precautions to take.  Noone should think they are doing this textile a favor by asking an amateur to follow conservation instructions, primarily because they will probably hurry - haste makes waste.  Every step has to be carefully planned, like surgery.  There should always be two sets of trained brains and hands present for a textile this fragile. 

About the hoop:

1. Forcing tension on the textile by having it stretched in a wooden hoop is dangerous, because the stress and contraction/expansion due to subtle environmental changes will eventually weaken/break threads.

2. The hoop in the picture has a screw for adjusting.  This presents another danger - snagging or ripping any of the loose Chancay gauze said to be crumpled loosely below the hoop in the display.

3. Wood assures there will be acid off-gasing, which darkens (burns) fabric over time, and causes it to weaken and eventually "shatter" into fragments.

4. Another concern is whether the entire exhibit would be carelessly handled or tossed in a storage or moving box with other like-items, introducing acid burn potential to contents of the entire box.  (I have seen "professional" museum movers do such a thing.  They usually are not well-trained to handle small or fragile items.)

Display of the Chancay gauze in a vertical position for more than a month is not recommended.  A slope might be used.  This is a tilted foundation surface, raised an inch or more at the back edge to enhance viewing.  Gravity is a terrible enemy of lace, as well as of costumes, unique textiles, wall hangings, quilts, etc.  In the case of a large textile, many museums display quilts vertically, but most know they must be rotated or sent to storage to rest after a short time.  An alternative is a large slope that takes up a lot of display space, raised 3' or more at the back.  Movement of people makes museums into dusty places, and use of a slope in an open area encourages dust to accumulate on the surface of the display.  Cleaning methods are most wearing to all collections, but especially to textiles.  Displays need to be rotated with frequency. 

Always consider that fabric pieces and laces have parts assembled or stitched on the bias.  Gravity can permanently distort them.


Another part of the same discussion was Spiro Mound artifacts at the Stovall Museum, University of Oklahoma.

If glue has been absorbed by a textile and backing material for a long period of time, you must remember the axiom to "first, do no harm".  Attempts to remove glue in such circumstances requires a team evaluation by experts, not amateurs or volunteers.  Glue effects cannot usually be reversed.  Residue of glue chemicals will always remain in the fibers.  It is often best to leave it as is.

About 30 years ago, I sat in a class discussing a small ancient textile from Persia that was placed on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was laid flat in a glass case, with spacer around it, and plexiglass over the top (not touching the textile).  Noone thought to check the exhibit regularly.  The plexiglass "drew" the priceless textile up from the surface where it was unattached, to the under side of the plexiglass.  When the case was opened, the textile fell into a pile of tiny fiber fragments.

The drawing of loose fibers to plexiglass could be likened to the airborn gunk that floats through a room and becomes "fused" to a TV screen, requiring more frequent cleaning than other surfaces in the same room.


My experience is that we all know most of this cause and effect push and pull of conservation.  By third grade, we know if we pull our sweater too hard it will tear, how things get dirty, the impact of air and water pollution on us, not to sniff glue and other chemicals, that glue can be permanent and require a visit to a hospital emergency room, the effects of gravity, how we feel when exposed to changes in temperature or humidity, and so forth. 

It is restoration that presents problems.  A repaired or restored item will never be original again, so it really is best to follow the "first, do no harm" advice. 

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An exhaustive and frightening account of how to do it right.  The frightening part is that doing anything will probably damage the textile.  Textiles always have a short life span compared to stone columns and stone walls.


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