On 15 June 2013 we were very pleased to host a visit from members of the Cambridgeshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers.
As the visitors had quite a bit of prior knowledge with regards to textiles and their manufacture the visit could focus on introducing them to textile conservation and what conservators do to help conserve textiles for the future. I was able to show them a range of textiles that we were working on, talking through their history as well as the current work being done on them.
A review of their visit was written up in the Guild’s newsletter where they wrote:“ May had four or five jobs in progress that we could look at. One of these was the Colours (i.e. flags) of the Suffolk Regiment that hang at Ickworth Church. These fragile textiles had badly degraded not least due to the effects of gravity – the way they had been draped from their poles having causing diagonal faded streaks and creasing. They are complex objects to conserve as they are made up from a variety of textile types, often with embroidered embellishments, all of which need different treatments. Both were edged with silk and metal fringing and of course their poles hung with braided cords and tassels. That particular project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Colours will be returned to the church once completed. Behind us was a privately owned tapestry that May was backing with linen fabric to support the fragile areas which had been woven in silk thread, and re-stitching where the weaving slits were causing gravitational distortion. May was hugely generous with her personal experiences and insights into textile conservation science, practice, and business. The decisions she has to make on a daily basis about the textiles in her care are daunting. As she revealed the pieces on the table from their tissue paper covers, she also unpacked and revealed their history. We studied a well-worn embroidery that featured Catholic saints and May surmised how it had survived the Reformation, and we also heard about the procedures that determine how a regimental colour is donated by a monarch and why they are kept in churches. It was surprising to learn that very few tapestries remain that have never been repaired, and how this history of previous interventions impacts on the decisions she has to make about their conservation.”
It was a great pleasure to host this group of lovely people.
More information on the Guild can be found at Cambridgeshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers .