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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:31 pm 
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I have a large number of Iban weavings which are often of handspun cotton and native dyes but need cleaning. I have already lightly and gently vacuumed them. They range around 6' or 7' x 4' or so.

I had several cleaned by a professional who gave me the idea she used distilled water in large quantities, and a special large table for washing and drying. I got the idea I could pretty much do the same thing myself.

I have read several articles and a book or two on cleaning textiles but they seem directed toward fairly exotic cleaning (special chemicals, vacuum tables, etc.,) of very fragile or difficult to clean pieces. I have not seen any "do it yourself" cleaning which might be satisfactory for such textiles as I have.

I can stabilze a piece around holes and slightly detaching sections - another conservator who did repair work for me showed me how to lightly stitch gauzy fabric around the sensitive areas so they do not degrade in handling.

I would not attempt cleaning if it required special chemicals other than mild soaps.

I have heard from one person about simply soaking and "mushing" a piece gently in a large bathtub of distilled water to lift dirt out, draining the water, repeating, etc., until clear and then spreading them on towels and such to dry, possibly tacking the edges down to prevent any shrinking.

I have to believe that these pieces have been washed by the native owners already so I think they can stand such treatment.

Given the above - or not- does anyone have practical advice about "home cleaning" such textiles or books to refer to?

Thanks

-John

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:29 am 
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John

If the textile is in reasonable condition then I think you have done stage one - vacuuming.

The:
Quote:
I have heard from one person about simply soaking and "mushing" a piece gently in a large bathtub of distilled water to lift dirt out, draining the water, repeating, etc., until clear and then spreading them on towels and such to dry, possibly tacking the edges down to prevent any shrinking.
is pretty much what I am aware of. It is important to be more gentle with the textile when it is wet and heavy. I have also put a textile between towels and then carefully rolled up the 'sandwich' into a sausage. This helps to remove some of the moisture.

I think you need to experiment on a textile in good condition, however, not your most precious. I suggest you might start with a skirt first as it won't be so large, heavy and unwieldy. One thing with pua is that the dyes should not run!

It may sound awful but I had a friend who washed antique quilts and swore by using a washing machine as being the kindest way. These days they have delicate or short cycles and low temperature. I don't think I would dare do this with a pua. What you need is a very poor one bought very cheaply for experimentation.

This is always such a difficult question!

Best

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:37 pm 
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John sent me this message (he is right, he should have posted his question here!!!)
Quote:
Thanks for your comments Pamela. I did not post this as a Forum reply to save forum space since I have nothing substantive to say. Have you used any kind of detergent (maybe I should have posted this)? I have some very mild soap said to be good for textiles but I don't have the name anymore.

I'll take your advice about trying a piece I could stand to lose.

Some pieces have very dirty borders which once were the usual offwhite. I wonder if I can scub them with a soft brush?

Thanks again

-John

I was going to say something about soap in my ealier post but didn't! I would not use detergent but mild, pure soap flakes. I have just been out to the garage to check what I have. Lux pure soap flakes (not sure if you can still get the pure flakes)! I also see a bottle of Stergene http://www.lornamead.com/stergene-home-care which I think has some additives but is for gentle hand washing on delicates.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:46 pm 
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Thank much Pamela. You are helpful as always. As soon as I can clear up some work and return from a vacation, I will try cleaning a textile.

I will try to remember to post the before and after results along with what I did.

-John

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:06 pm 
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John

Fantastic if we can have stage photos. Look forward to seeing them when you get the chance to pursue washing further.

Best,

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:26 pm 
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John,

I have just done a bit of housekeeping (not washing!) on the forum. I did a forum search for 'textile cleaning' and via that found three or four old threads which were predominantly about textile cleaning. I have slightly amended the title of this section of the forum (to explicitly include 'caring for' which I think includes cleaning) and have now moved these threads here (but left a copy on the General or Travel forums where they were first posted). As there are not many on this current section of the forum it might be worth you going through the moved threads. Sandy Shamis on http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... .php?t=373 gives an instance of textiles she has bought which a commercial dealer has washed in the washing machine!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:01 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Hello John

We have never washed our pua kumbu. The most we would do is air them on the verandah for a couple of hours AFTER using them for ritual or ceremonial purposes. But we never wash them. Which is why most pua kumbu are stained or dirty.

The same goes for ceremonial jackets, skirts and loin cloths. But the everyday skirts and loincloths (which are not woven but of commercial cloths) are washed daily after use. I guess in ancient times before the advent of commercial cloths, woven skirts and loincloths were washed but the patterning on them were probably very minimal or even non-existent. Engkudu and tarum, although fast, do eventually fade with repeated washes. And badly mordanted threads fade their colours quite easily.

For the vertical striped borders on your pua, I guess you could lightly brush them with water if you wanted to clean them.

The vacuuming is a good idea, I'm presuming, though I have never done it myself.

Perhaps a textile conservation and preservation specialist could advise us on the best way to keep pua kumbu and other Iban textiles clean?

Vernon


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:10 pm 
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Thanks Pamela and Vernon for the information. I'll follow up on it.

I got the impression from readings that properly mordanted enkudu color was more colorfast than aniline dyes of the time. I assumed that meant someone had experience with this and possibly was known to weavers. If they never washed pua or skirts (Vernon did not mention skirts), I wonder why this might be relevant to them.

I can understand that the mordanted enkudu might be less fade resistant from the sun than aniline dyes. And if this was known to weavers, it gets back to an earlier question for Vernon - what did the Iban weavers consider important in a weaving.

Thanks again and Vernon - I hope you are having a break from your filming work.

-John

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:02 pm 
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john wrote:
Thanks Pamela and Vernon for the information. I'll follow up on it.

I got the impression from readings that properly mordanted enkudu color was more colorfast than aniline dyes of the time. I assumed that meant someone had experience with this and possibly was known to weavers. If they never washed pua or skirts (Vernon did not mention skirts), I wonder why this might be relevant to them.

I can understand that the mordanted enkudu might be less fade resistant from the sun than aniline dyes. And if this was known to weavers, it gets back to an earlier question for Vernon - what did the Iban weavers consider important in a weaving.

Thanks again and Vernon - I hope you are having a break from your filming work.

-John


Hi John

The filming is done and I am now back at my study in my room in Kuala Lumpur. Tomorrow the post-production begins. Which means I will have to oversee the editing of the film before we have a proper programme fit for viewing on tv. Editing is easy but tedious. But it does give me more free time to continue my reasearch!

"what did the Iban weavers consider important in a weaving" - I'll definitely need to write a book!

Vernon


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 Post subject: Cleaning Pua?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:16 pm 
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Pamela, John and Vernon,

I am afraid to attempt cleaning any of my pua or skirts. The older ones show no signs of running and bleeding and although somewhat fragile could probably survive.

The supposedly newer (or at least less expertly dyed) ones show signs of bleeding where they became wet. I can't imagine washing them, although they could really use it.

That said, I have twice experienced the infinite rinse technique and it might work well on pua. My own field collections of hempen peasant clothing often border on wretched and must be tied to the roof racks until we get home. Hemp is some of the toughest cloth on the planet. When nobody is around I bring them into the bathroom and soak them repeatedly in near scalding water with detergent and walk on them. After repeated draining and refilling the water color progresses from coffee to weak tea and I stop. Blocked on towels they come out fine. Not appropriate for most textiles!

The other instance was in Gambia where the women took newly woven lapas (large sarongs) and rinsed them in salt water. The salt water washes away remaining free dye from the non-colorfast Chinese yarn and acts as a mordant for the remaining dye. Their technique is for four women to wade knee deep into the sea and each holding a corner of the lapa submerge it into the water and hold it under for a half hour or so, after which it is rinsed in fresh water using a hose and hung over a pair of lines to dry. The secret is that the free dyes bleed more readily into the water rather than into neighboring yarns.

I worry more about light than washing. Since pua were only taken out and aired during rituals then they have lived 95% plus of their lives in the dark!

Have you ever tried dry (chemically) cleaning a pua?

Cheers!

Rob

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 Post subject: Re: Cleaning Pua?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:10 pm 
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Hi Rob, Thanks for your information. Very interesting.

Re: drycleaning pua, I think I mentioned in one of my postings somewhere that a drycleaner I contacted said that he did not want to try drycleaning them because he was not sure how the native dyes would respond.

Do you have any information or thoughts about that?

Vernon Kedit said that the Iban never washed their pua.

How about posting some of your pua and skirts? I would very much like to see what you have!

-John



Robert C. Clarke wrote:
Pamela, John and Vernon,

I am afraid to attempt cleaning any of my pua or skirts. The older ones show no signs of running and bleeding and although somewhat fragile could probably survive.

The supposedly newer (or at least less expertly dyed) ones show signs of bleeding where they became wet. I can't imagine washing them, although they could really use it.

That said, I have twice experienced the infinite rinse technique and it might work well on pua. My own field collections of hempen peasant clothing often border on wretched and must be tied to the roof racks until we get home. Hemp is some of the toughest cloth on the planet. When nobody is around I bring them into the bathroom and soak them repeatedly in near scalding water with detergent and walk on them. After repeated draining and refilling the water color progresses from coffee to weak tea and I stop. Blocked on towels they come out fine. Not appropriate for most textiles!

The other instance was in Gambia where the women took newly woven lapas (large sarongs) and rinsed them in salt water. The salt water washes away remaining free dye from the non-colorfast Chinese yarn and acts as a mordant for the remaining dye. Their technique is for four women to wade knee deep into the sea and each holding a corner of the lapa submerge it into the water and hold it under for a half hour or so, after which it is rinsed in fresh water using a hose and hung over a pair of lines to dry. The secret is that the free dyes bleed more readily into the water rather than into neighboring yarns.

I worry more about light than washing. Since pua were only taken out and aired during rituals then they have lived 95% plus of their lives in the dark!

Have you ever tried dry (chemically) cleaning a pua?

Cheers!

Rob

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:22 pm 
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John, whilst you have been travelling Rob has posted pics of one of his pua on http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... =4469#4469 and one of his skirts on http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... =4470#4470 (Hope these links work!)
best,

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:42 am 
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Ann Goodman has been in touch after reading the threads on this section of the forum about cleaning textiles:
Quote:
Dear pamela,
Thanks for the digest. Especially the thread on cleaning textles. I ruined a lovely embroidered collar from Weining which was very soiled so I washed it gently in Orvis paste it. The dirt came out but the red embroidery ran very badly. I should have tested first.
Ann

Ann sent a photo of the result. Yes, red can be such a fugitive dye and one that I am always afraid of washing.


Attachments:
Weining_washing.jpg
Weining_washing.jpg [ 75.47 KiB | Viewed 11992 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:26 pm 
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Again coming late to this discussion. Re: West Timorese textiles..... Most natural dyes will be fixed with lime powder acting as mordant. I am always hesitant to purchase cloth with red dyes as indeed commercial red is notorious for running. Morinda and indigo dye is completely different and loves being beaten on rocks under the full moon. Dance in the bath then twist it to squeeze out the water, hang over line or lay flat on towel to dry.

I am blessed to stay with a grandmother whose specialty is washing IKAT. She goes at it with pure soap flakes and a soft scrubbing brush, as well as whamming it on the smooth concrete wash room floor before plunging it repeatedly into water to get out the village dirt and excess dye and as she says the penyakit...any sickness or virus which she certainly does not want to send out of her town. She often advises me if she thinks that a textile will run and 98% of the time she is spot on. But as we passionate collectors all know it is often that 2% that ranks amongst the special favorites and it is always a sad moment to see the work of a true crafts woman Fuzz as John would put it.

I do purchase textiles and advise on the catalog description tag that I provide with each cloth that THIS ONE SHOULD NOT BE WASHED....indeed I have has some very special ones, of a similar ilk to the Ibans, that are party cloths and are not meant to be washed as they are only rarely worn.

Indeed rinsing in salt water does cleanse and fix most natural dyes once the bleeding process is completed the women in Alor use this technique, they particularly favour the cool fast running water and often tie the cloth to ropes in order not to have to stand in the cold current for too long. However, rinse the textile again in rain water or distilled water as the salt continues to absorb moisture if left in the thread, this speeds up the perishing of the fiber/thread and can add hugely to the weight of your cloth.

Wool wash is ok to use as well.......

PS Pamela,,,, how can I post more than one image at a time?
I resized and attached 3 so that the total was under 500kb but only one has showed...


Attachments:
File comment: Some of the special DO NOT WASH ones.
W1697-resized (5).JPG
W1697-resized (5).JPG [ 163.77 KiB | Viewed 6249 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:54 pm 
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Hi Julie

Thanks for all your hard work at contributing to the forum. Your tip about washing out salt and all the reasons I found very useful.

Posting images.

It is only each individual image that must be under 500K

You need to add the images one at a time to the written post. You can preview to make sure each is there. The images show up in reverse order. i.e. the last image that you post appears immediately under your text. So, chose the file on your computer and add it; then choose the next image and add it and so on. Finally submit your post including all the images. I think that there is a maximum of 5 images which can be added to a single post. I say 'think' as it was set at that on the previous version of the forum. There is so much under the bonnet/hood that of the Admin Board on the upgrade that I have not yet checked the current limitation of images but will get to it.

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