Jen Jackson 7/28/08
Greetings brain trust. I have a question regarding textile mounts. Here at the USMC museum, we have an insane amount of uniform patches. The last mount makers here used SS pins in acid free blue board to mount our patches, but they ave been falling off. In some of our flags, the mount maker sewed the flag directly to muslin... my question is: when is it o.k. to sew into your object? Before I came here I had never seen it done before (presumably because it seems like a somewhat destructive technique -little bitty holes, are holes none the less). I have a zillion patches to mount that are mostly contemporary- sewing them would certainly do the trick- but I don’t want to damage any object permanently. I have really never worked with textiles, so here I am...Any thoughts?
Steve Briscoe 7/28/08
We do a fair amount of textile display. It is a little daunting because of the slumping and fragility of fabric. But it is not too hard if you have some guidelines.
Controlled humidity is more important. Moisture can cause mold growth and unattractive buckling.
Generally flat textiles are best displayed on slanted decks covered with fabric. This allows the weight to be distributed better for the fabric. This can even be just slightly off vertical if your wall case is shallow. By keeping things lower in the case the tilting is manageable. If your deck or display surface is plex you could attach sueded polyethylene (Benchmark) or some fabric to the plex to give a little tooth so the patches don't slide off.
Mechanical attachments like sewing or pins are necessary evils for vertical presentations, and are best done by pros. We usually have the textile curator or one of her able volunteers do that once we've made the substrate. If you have to do it yourself, what you trying to do is pin or sew between the warp and weft threads of the fabric. Very small needles/pins and good light are a must. A basting stitch not pulled too tightly that is easily removed are the goal. The more attachment points, the more the weight is distributed and less stress put on any one point. You might also go over the top or the corners of the patches with clear polyester thread and tie off on the back of the board. Or the sewing can pierce only the back of the patch, not the front.
No sure I'm answering your question, which I see now is more specific. When is it OK? That's going to be somewhat different for every object and every institution. I'd think uniform patches are fairly robust and lightweight. I think it's fine to attach those with pins or thread. But I'm not your conservator or a textile expert.
I never used it on fabric but polyester felt seems to have more tooth than the sueded poly. I used it on some indian sandles made with ratan type materials and it safely held a 25 deg. angle without anything but a safety lip on the bottom. It is however, thicker, rougher and bumpier than the sueded. I haven't gotten any for some years but Benchmark used to carry it. Be well, Howard
Jen Jackson 7/29/08
Thanks guys! Unfortunately the deck is completely vertical, with about 2" of clearance to the glass- that doesnt leave room for much of an angle. We are also fresh out of textile conservators. I am thinking that I will not go the sewing route. I hate sewing. I think I might try to smeesh* the patches between a sueded poly deck and a plexi stand off. Thanks for all of your advice.
How about 5 mil Mylar onto acid free mat board.Use a squarish shaped mat board. I think the 5 mil is stiff enough to keep the patches from buckling. Use the 3M double sticky on the back. Keep the folds on the Mylar sharp. You can make a mat board hanger on the back (it worked very well for some Greek bank notes). Howard