Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy, 3, Beading

Continuing from our earlier post on searching for beads…

The cosy has two sides, arbitrarily labeled “A” and “B”
for reporting and discussion sake in the report.

Some of the areas of the tea cosy have disintegrating linen warp and weft,
or loosening warp and weft, shown above left, where is becomes unstable and unruly.  Reweaving is difficult due to the beading interspersed around the edges;
there are bare holes in very small areas.  Further, there are beads which are loose but have not fallen off.  I chose to back the entire cosy with an organic
undyed unbleached woven hemp.  I can then bead and stabilize into the hemp below.

Another issue are what I call “burned” metal beads, shown in details above and right.  I in the right image above, lower right quadrant of the image you can see gold, pewter, hematite and crusty rusty looking beads; these are heat and water/steam damaged beads.  See the darkened red yarns, right?  This is not dirt stain but the residue of the heat damaged beads.  I would love to remove some of these beads, but the most damaged of them are welded to the warp and weft.

I have seen this exact melted or burned beads in other Victorian pieces.
One of the first beaded pieces I treated in Portland had several areas so badly
“burned” that it ripped the warp and weft in two… to reweave I had to cut out some of the melted beads to remove.  They no longer looked like beads but melted metal!
I rewove the ripped missing areas in order to have a good base to reweave new beads.

My goals for the tea cosy are to surmise the the design in areas
for which I have no historical record for — which means by looking
at the two sides I do not have a whole motif.
I will infill with appropriate appearing beads and to stabilize loose beads.
Not every bead will be stabilized — some are not loose — and that would be
a very expensive endeavor and this cosy will not be used as it once was,
but treated carefully like the Victorian lady she is!

When the two sides have been beaded and stabilized,
I will clean both pieces (I cannot do this now with so many beads loose),
infill yarns as necessary, create the quilted interior and ruched ruffle,
and reconstruct the tea cosy with the new quilted interior and silk ruched ruffle.

Step one: tack the
tea cosy onto the hemp backing.

I built a frame and taped the backing into place, then loosely tacked in six places.
I will start beading in the center and move outward evenly, in order to ensure
I do not have areas of gap or bunching in the hemp under the beading.

Beading begins.

The first day there were experiments with the various beads,
so it was slow going, and more than once I removed my beading.
I don’t know if there was a bead that was lost, but every so often I find
an oddly placed clear bead in the center of white,
leading me to think that the edges of the petals were not all white.

Also, in areas such as this petal, where the warp and weave below is not stable
but loose and uneven, I take the time to understand the bead weave as I go.
A second or third beading needle is used to align and study the weave
and hold beads in place as I stabilize around them.

Different sized beads.

I am encountering several areas with different sized beads,
both on the edges of motifs and sometimes in the center.
I don’t know if the cosy was repaired once before, but nothing tipped
my mind in that direction as we excavated the various pieces.
I may never know.

For now, I am labeling them when I note them “original bead” and “larger bead”.
I am sure the bulk of the original beads were the smaller size, between a 9/0 and 10/0;
the second size looks to be an 11/0.  My new beads are all in that size range.

Examples of stabilization as I bead.

Most of the time I am
picking up one bead at a time to stabilize by re-threading them to the hemp below, above. In the last image note I am setting a row in place as I stabilize a very loose beads one at a time.  Occasionally an entire area, such as the tulip-shaped flower right, needs stabilization and alignment. All the beads are loose but not falling off.  I might pick up several beads in a row,
then come back and tack the thread down in between.

Above, the area completed
on the first day. I can’t bead for more than an hour at
a time
, and when I get up
from focusing on beads
for that long it is a little
like being tipsy as my
mind and eye adjusts!
I added one new bead to
the design, a milky bead
that picks up and refracts
light at the edges.  A string
of new white beads, though well matched, was simply
too much flat white.
By adding the milky white bead it softens the edges.

I take notes throughout, above, including how long it takes me to bead areas,
because it gives me more information with which to do estimates in future.

This posting serves as a treatment report, to keep with the other documents of the tes cosy in her collection.  Our client will get copies of this and maybe my illegible notes!
A vial of the new beads will also be sent to my client for any possible repairs in future.

Will post as I progress!

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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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4 Responses to Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy, 3, Beading

  1. loisajay says:

    This is fascinating, Kate. I can imagine feeling a little tipsy after doing all this fine work for an hour!

    • Totally. I look up to tal to Mitchell and feel a bit swimmy. I met an amazing beader years ago who worked with sand beads — these are literally small like grains of sand. He said he has to wait and allow his eyes to adjust before getting up at all.

  2. Pingback: Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy, 2, Beads | Mpfconservation's Blog

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