Frances Normandin’s Beautiful Crewel Work, 2: Treatment, Colorwork

Continuing from our first post on crewelwork and cleaning
Frances Normandin’s beautiful crewel-worked textile circa 1930-1940:

The textile is cleaned, but I want to step back to look at some images (before cleaning)
to share some surprising comparisons and talk about caring for a textile.


These images show the front side of the crewelwork
on the left (above) or bottom (below),
and the backside, right (above) or top (below).

Notice how little the dyes have faded?
A bit of brilliance is gone, and that is all…
And look at how neat her back stitches are?
For those who don’t know, it is important when doing needlework
that you pay attention to the backside and keep it neat,
so as not to create knots or pull unwanted threads through.
This is even more critical in textile conservation,
where a pulled knot can deteriorate a fragile textile.

Plus, even though the textile was uncovered/unprotected,
it must have been shown on a wall with little ambient light from outdoors,
because though the dyes had better mordants than the dyes in the older Hearst piece below, shown for comparison (and because geeky stuff like this turns Kate on),
where the older dyes, many of were vegetable, fade quickly.

The back side of the Flemish Sofa’s seat tapestry, Hearst Castle.

Now check out the comparisons of the
Flemish Sofa from Hearst Castle, above,
front versus back, shown during reweaving (**Note bottom).  Yes I posted a lot of pics — but I geek out on imagining what the sofa might have looked like when the dyes were vibrant!  Imagine the sofa, right, in the intense colors shown above!  Wow!  A vibrant interior!  The intensity of the colors has faded.  In fact, textiles conservators have the privilege of seeing true colors of objects versus the dusty faded aged colors!

THAT should change the way you see
things next time you visit a museum!

It is important to keep textiles and paintings out of direct light, and know that even ambient light and fluorescent lighting can cause damage over time.  Placing them under proper glass with UV protection will also help maintain their colors.

If your piece is a large textile, consider only displaying it on special occasions,
or in a dark room, one where you can keep shades drawn.
On the other hand, putting keepsakes away completely results in situations
where the family doesn’t hear the stories, and therefore may not value the pieces
when family members pass on — so our advice is to strike a balance!

Moving back to Frances’ crewelwork:

The crewel yarns arrived, and Kate
will  begin infill.  Unlike our previous project, where she muted the infill colors to make the piece present properly, she is able to use the closest match possible to the original colors, especially on the border, right.
Still, there are three yarns that Kate cannot match exactly — two greens and an orange.  They’ve faded enough that the infill yarns a just a tad bit off.

On the other hand, someone long ago also added two different yarns, assuming they repaired it on two different dates, below!  I don’t think anyone noticed!

Next post, yarn infill!

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.
**NOTE:  William Randolph Hearst’s Sofa was treated as a joint project.
MPF Conservation treated the upholstery/passementerie and Stan DeRelian rewove the inside back tapestry, the latter of which is far outside our area of expertise.
Thanks to ®Hearst Castle for allowing us to tell these stories.

About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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