Since the Testers arrival last year we have been busy documenting its condition and previous treatments including the use of adhesive. This is starting to fail, become very hard and brittle with age and discoloured to dark brown from its use in the 1960s.
Our first job was to remove this adhesive, not as easy as first thought. Previous experience from other parts of the bed showed it was Gutta Perchance, a form of latex, removed using Dichloromethane. To protect the object and user it was made into a poultice with Laponite, a synthetic clay, as a carrier.
Wet cleaning followed; first on the silk panels surrounding the inner dome and subsequently on the outer frame silk. This was too large to be used in our wash table so a specially constructed bath was made on the floor, back braking work. At least there was a hole in the middle so we didn’t have to stretch right in.
Conservation treatment is finally being undertaken. The silk panels from the inner dome have been supported with a reversible adhesive treatment onto a silk crepeline carrier and infilled with new woven silk to match the original.
Laid couching has been applied to very weak areas in the silk, embroidery and linen lining.
The panels with no original silk left have a new silk overlay. As you can see from the completed panels you would never know they are new panels.
The original has been conserved with new lustre and shine next to the conserved trimmings. Only 85 metres to work on in the tester!
We are now working on the conservation of the outer frame silk before the final task of reconstructing.
To read more about James II bed, click here.