Furniture, Knole, Spangled bed, State bed, Studio life

Conservation of bed hangings from the Spangled Bed

Supporting the lingings

Following on from the last blog post, where the linings from the Spangled curtains were documented, humidified, wet cleaned and supported onto adhesive crepeline, the next step was to support the linings onto the dyed silk support. The damask linings have undergone extensive support stitching. In total, four conservators have worked over 1100 hours to apply the supports and carefully work laid couching in areas of weakness and damage on four curtain linings.

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Laid couching lines on proper right head crimson damask lining

In order to keep our work square to the grain and consistent with each other and across all the linings we have used a stitching grid (see photo below) with 1cm spaced lines.

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Conservators couching damask lining using stitching grids, a rectangular piece of card with a smaller rectangular space cut from the middle and its border marked with 1cm spacing

One of the biggest challenges in supporting the fragile damask has been the scale of the curtains. In order to access central panels we have frequently had to work over rollers in order to reach in and carry out support stitching in these areas.

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Student working over a roller, stitching damask to silk support with long and short stitches and a curved needle

The next step was to re-join the panels of damask which had previously been deconstructed. One such example of this was the proper left head lining. Small running stitches were sewn to join the panels following the original seam lines.

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Conservator joining two lining panels from the proper left head curtain together with a running stitch

Netting the damask linings

With repair stitching complete and the damask linings reconstructed the next and final stage of treatment for these important pieces of fabric was for the surface to be netted, using a fine nylon net. As for the silk supports, the net was dyed at the studio to match the crimson and the yellow damask.

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Conservator dyeing nylon net for the yellow damask linings

Netting the linings has involved laying the dyed net over the face of each curtain lining, taking great care to align the weave of the net to the grain of the silk damask, and pinning it in place. The lining was then hung from a hoist in the studio to allow necessary adjustments to be made. This has been quite an exciting moment, seeing the linings hung for the first time since being removed from the bed.

The net has been fixed in place by working lines of small securing stitches approximately 10cm apart, running from the top to the lower edge of the linings.

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Conservator stitching yellow net to the proper right head damask lining The blue thread lines as a guide to keep the stitching lines straight

Before and After

In the Studio we celebrate the completion of treatment on the damask linings with (what we believe to be) impressive before and after photos.

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Before conservation

 

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After conservation

All of the linings have undergone full documentation, deconstruction, humidification, wet cleaning, adhesive treatment, support stitching, reconstruction and netting. The linings are safely packed away until treatment of the satin is complete and the two layers can be reunited.

To read more on the Spangled Bed, click here.

 

 

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