Our client’s Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil, above.
We started, as we always do, with an assessment.
Then patterns were made and the textile and buildup was excavated.
The frame finish was conserved.
Be sure to run your cursor over images
to see the text where applicable.
We changed our proposed protocol after seeing how the tapestry had been cut to
the quick on the edges, above, and left tattering with no stabilization or overcasting
before its last upholstery. We did not want to wet clean the entire piece because we did not want to chance shrinkage. Instead we spot cleaned and used a method of repeated
top and bottom cleaning of the surface fibers that takes a bit longer, but is safer.
Further, the last upholsterer used a THICK coating of yellow carpenter’s PVA glue (not a white glue such as casein) to glue the gimp trim to the tapestry edge. This glue is completely inappropriate, and removing the glue would be extremely difficult.
What appears to be a dirty edge is in fact a thick coating of glue — we did not try to remove it at all, but are using it to help stabilize the edges at this time.
However, it was also more difficult to overcast the tapestry.
The needle and thread kept getting caught in this thick sticky PVA muck;
Mitchell is adept at using a serger!
The overcasting was successful but not pretty.
Protocol was to vacuum deeply on both sides using a soft brush attachment
which helped to lift the fibers and pull glitter and debris.
The seat was covered with glitter! The tapestry also had several “splinters,”
and we cannot imagine how the chair came into contact with these.
They are not straw or fibers from the inside working their way out!
The tapestry pieces were then spot cleaned in several small areas, and using both a
repurposed and dedicated mushroom brush, and specialty wipes,
which also were used on the surface of the tapestry fibers to remove surface debris.
The crest of the inside back was especially dirty from hair oils and hands
grabbing the back of the chair over the years. This area was thoroughly cleaned twice
using ®Orvus and distilled water, saturating and moving the dirt.
Above, it is interesting to see the original colors before they faded;
the back of the tapestry shows us the muted greys and taupes were actually purple colors of orchids and violets. The muted pinks were brilliant, almost bubble gum pink…
Imagine if the rose and coral were actually the intended colors of bright pink
and bright orange next to the yellow, which held its pigment.
Two very small areas at the edges of tacking areas had damaged stitches.
This is a good time to explain about matching historic yarns.
The yarns are often difficult
to match because they are
not actual dye colors, but colors that have faded over time. Right, you can see what appear to be two browns, but in reality are the same brown yarn, but one is very faded and appears to be tobacco, while the other is closer to the original color. In the damaged area below, replacement area moves from faded to the original color where the tape covered it.
Sometimes one can match
the yarn exactly, but more often not. One option if the area is not highly visible is to take a strand from each color and blend them, as shown right. (Note flashed color appears brighter.) The damaged area on the rf-arm top was missing not only yarn but also the linen warp and weft of the grid which the yarn stitches into; this loss was right at the edge where
the folds and the tacking margins occurred. I used
yarn to create the grid.
On the seat at the right-facing corner, another highly degraded bright bubble gum pink area both had faded missing stitches, and a degraded edge for tacking.
Again, I used two colors not at all like the original to blend a repair
on an edge that no one will notice even if it is pointed out to them!
After I needle-pointed the missing stitches, I wrapped the edges to secure
so that when Mitchell needs to tack into that area he has purchase, and
ran yarns up into the body before knotting for extra stability.
(Note that is not dirt but the terrible PVA glue at the edges!)
Above, the four tapestry pieces
after cleaning and reparation.
The tapestry is quite beautiful with varying kinds of needlepoint,
petite-point and stitches to create the bodies of the people and the Phoenix.
As you scroll through the details above, pay attention to the eyes and fingers and the various skin tones and sizes of the stitches. It is quite beautiful!
The tapestry is almost ready for reupholstery.
Mitchell will stabilize the back using a strong but light silk.
Our next steps are reparation of the frame, and to restore the buildup.
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Written by Kate Powell ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.