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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:07 am
Posts: 6
Location: Singapore
Hello,

Recently i acquired some old pieces of Peranakan (Straits Chinese) beadwork and am wondering if you could advise on the display and more importantly, preservation of such old delicate pieces:

1) Beaded shoes in a fragile state with the soles decaying while the beadwork is mainly intact, though there is a tear encroaching the sides of the beadwork
==> Am thinking of putting it in a glass box as recommended by the seller, if i do this, is there a special kind of glass (e.g. UV protected etc) that is recommended? What abt the level of moisture etc in the glass box?

2) Beaded panels (lengths vary from 9 inches to 25 inches)
==> Framing seems a good option, likewise any concerns with framing such as type of glass & frames, or the condition of the items, which are rather fragile and some have broken strands.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Adrian


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File comment: These are the pair of shoes, as can be seen, sole is giving way and actually the beadwork base at the sides of the sole are also very very fragile..
peranakan_child_beaded_shoes.jpeg
peranakan_child_beaded_shoes.jpeg [ 26.88 KiB | Viewed 7024 times ]
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:31 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:30 am
Posts: 315
Greetings Adrian
Preservation of beadwork can become quite involved with time and is influenced by materials. For instance whether the threads of synthetic origin (not so serious an issue) or plant origin (serious issues over time). Then within plant-based material there are a range difficulties related to plant material used - for example preservation treatments vary depending on whether cotton, silk, baste fibres etc. are used.
Display: Perhaps the greatest problem over time is the stress placed upon the piece due to the combined weight of the beads. If, as you mention, these panel pieces are somewhat fragile I would strongly that you do NOT frame and hang them as this is likely to cause significant and possible irreparable damage. Displaying the beaded shoes under cover away from direct sunlight and incandescent lighting is a good option especially if this is done flat and is not subject to a great deal of movement.
The choice of glass/polycarbonate/plexiglass: I would recommend not using glass for several reasons - weight, expense and most importantly if for some reason the glass is broken the damage to your piece can be significant. I use polycarbonate for it's light weight, UV excluding and non fogging properties.
Storage: I have a number of African beaded pieces and correct storage is a serious issue - little did I know how serious when I first began collecting twenty+ years ago!! I recommend that beadwork pieces are stored flat with as little tension on them as possible. I have individual pieces laid on acid-free paper and covered with the same stored within an old map cabinet/linen press. When these pieces are on exhibition they are mounted on felt-covered boards inclined 30 degrees from the horizontal to facilitate viewing.
Perhaps the biggest concern comes from the relative humidity (RH) which can result in mold and fungi growth. Relative humidity is affected by temperature and is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air relative to the amount that the air can hold. Large changes in temperature and RH are not a good thing! Extremely low RH can cause plant fibres to break, whilst at higher levels metals can begin to corrode and molds (at RH greater than 70%) molds and bacterial growth can become rampant. In museums this is of course all monitored with the use of hygrothermographs, pyschrometers, and controlled atmospheres.
So what about at home? Perhaps the easiest method is to use a temperature/humidity cards which indicate both temperature/humidity by indicating a change in colour from blue (drier) to pink (wetter). Other possibilities are the incorporation of silica gel packets to absorb moisture. Ultimately it is about monitoring each piece individually. Within my collection I aim for maintaining a RH% of between 45-55% with a temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) achieved using a combination dehumidifier/air conditioner with air passed through a biofilter.
Repairs: Regarding your concerns
Quote:
the condition of the items, which are rather fragile and some have broken strands

there are a number of solutions depending on how you wish to approach these pieces. Minimal handling should be a priority. In several pieces in my collection with this problem I 'sealed' the broken threads with a very small amount of beeswax. I used this as it was something I had seen done in the area where I collected these pieces and it was therefore culturally appropriate. However, it is probably best to 'leave as is' as any addition outside of tradtional techniques (except of course for rescue work) may not be acceptable. I would consult with experts in the field of your piece and enquire of them how best to approach this issue.
I hope this helps.
Regards
Iain


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 Post subject: Thank you
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 9:19 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:07 am
Posts: 6
Location: Singapore
Iain, thank you for your very informative sharing :D. i must admit u do take pride in your collection and pieces...though it is a lot of new info for a layman like me but i appreciate ur time and effort in writing that piece.

Such pieces of old Peranakan beadwork are usually stitched or threaded using cotton (natural) threads because in those days in this part of the world, nylon threads were probably unknown.

I have a few further questions:
Q1: When u mention incandescent lighting, does it refer to fluorescent lighting too that can have potentially damaging effects on old textiles?

Q2: You mentioned "felt-covered boards", may i know is felt also acid-free by nature?

Thanks again for your help. i may not be able to keep track of my pieces with such professionalism and tools, but i will take heed your advise esp. on not framing the beaded panels but to place them onto angled boards for display. In this part of the world, textile conservation has not reached the level of understanding & practice you described, except perhaps for the museum authorities and top-end art galleries. Most antique shops and framing companies here whom i spoke to just advised me to frame or box it up in glass, not mentioning anything such as moisture level, acid-free backing or UV protection etc, though some which cater to museums do have such expertise.

Hope ur post and that of others will highlight the importance of preserving our sensitive heritage treasures.

Cheers,
Adrian


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 Post subject: Further to preservation
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:30 am
Posts: 315
Greetings Adrian
Regarding felt pH: This will depend on the felt manufacturing process - pH of water used in washing the fibres and the steaming process as well as the dyes used to colour the felt.
Regarding fluorescent and incandescent lighting: This I suppose is always one of those things that requires balance.... no matter what form of light you use it will be harmful to your pieces. That said there is no need for everything to be in a black box and viewed with night vision glasses! Although flourescent lighting also emits a high percentage of UV perhaps the strangest thing about this light is that the colours rendered by the exhibited pieces appear very unnatural - no reds and a high preponderance of blue. The term colour rendering index (CRI) is often used in discussing lighting where natural light is 100. Fluorescent lights range widely anything from 50 to >95 whilst incandescent lighting is usually above a CRI of 95.
One of the main problems with incandescent lighting is the heat produced which is of course very detrimental. There is always going to be a balance between heat and effective lighting. The lamps I use are actually tungsten halogen lamps which are covered with a borosilicate front to significantly reduce UV as well as protect against explosion (which does happen!). Especially if you have these linked to one power unit the surge of one exploding lamp can cause a chain reaction. I try to use lighting that is diffused. What does this mean? I try not to focus my lights directly on to a fragile object by having several lights available to light up an area. This allows me to use a lot of 'spilled light' and also means that I can actually dim the lighting - which saves energy and bulb lifetime whilst, more significantly, reducing the heat energy affecting the displayed objects. Using this method there is really little noticeable reduction in CRI or ease of viewing. I have not had experience with fibre optics, which currently seem to be the rage, but it would appear that the control that you achieve is significantly higher and more energy efficient.
Best regards
Iain


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:14 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:30 am
Posts: 315
Greetings Adrian
With your interest in Strait's Chinese beadwork/embroidery I am sure you are aware of the excellent reference by Wing Meng Ho. For the rest of us this book, published in 1987 and now sadly out of print, is 176 pages of excellent text and accompanying images. There appears to have been a reprint in 1991 but this too is out of print. However, a number of copies are available from a variety of sources. Details are as follows:
Ho, W. M. (1987). Strait's Chinese Beadwork and Embroidery. Times Books International. ISBN 978 9971651947.
Regards
Iain
PS Pamela, if this should be in the books section my apologies


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 Post subject: Thanks Iain
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:03 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:07 am
Posts: 6
Location: Singapore
Iain,

The good news is that there is a year 2003 reprint as well, and the book is available in some bookshops in Singapore and Malaysia.

Select Book Stores also carries the book:
http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/getTitle.cfm?SBNum=11226

It indeed is a great reference on Straits Chinese beadwork/embroidery works with beautiful samples.

Do check it out and i am sure they do ship overseas :)

Thanks Iain for your kind help!!

Adrian


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:53 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 7:22 am
Posts: 65
Location: germany
Greetings,
Talking about lighting, like the rest of us probably, I take a flashlight to museums to see the textiles, now a LED one. After a couple of discussions with musuem guards, I checked out the UV output of LEDs.

From everything I could see on the internet, it is virtually nil. :-)

One can argue about the quality of "white" LED light; in museums, its better than nothing. Household LED lighting is becoming evailable.

Regards, Larry


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 Post subject: Adrian - URGENT!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:40 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Adrian

Please will you update your email address on the forum. Either go into your Profile (leftmost button, second row of buttons in top right of screen) or let me know your new email and I can update it for you. emails for you from the forum are bouncing back and the message is
Quote:
'Host or domain name not found. Name service
error for name=.......(your domain name)..... type=MX: Host not found, try again'
However, I can get the domain up with no trouble. I have tried emailing you directly but the same messsage results.

Sorry to come through to you via the forum but no luck any other way so far!

Very best wishes,

_________________
Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:10 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Adrian - thanks for being in touch and for providing an alternative email address. Best wishes,

_________________
Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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