Part of the Grenfell Mission, these three hooked mats came in with problems of dirt, acids, and moth damage. Chemistry baths neutralized the acids and lifted the dirt particulates away. After some research into how these mats were made it was discovered that the material was not wool but was silk stockings dyed from plants in Newfoundland! A similar process is be using to incorporate new material. The research also brought to light a tremendous backstory. When Wilfred Grenfell, a British doctor, traveled to Newfoundland and Labrador he was struck by the hunger, poverty and chronic disease that the hardworking native people suffered from. Instead of gifting food, money and shelter, his solution was to enhance a local tradition, mat hooking, to raise the standard of living and cause a trickle down effect to alleviate their hardships. Production rose to its peak in the late 1920s and early 1930s but it saw a decline with the Great Depression and then with WWII. Grenfell hooked mats are known for their almost universal use of straight horizontal line hooking and their use of every hole in the brin, which results in as many as 200 stitches per square inch. Stay tuned for more…
This silk embroidery had been on a corrugated cardboard mount which transferred acids and caused staining.
Select chemistry baths neutralized and removed the acid stains. A custom and hand-carved bamboo frame was prepared and gilded with silver metal leaf. To finish the restoration, new archival matting and UV-filtering glass was given.
In age, these quilts range from the Post-Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the Great Depression. There are five in total, three of which are going into custom frames. One thing these quilts have in common is that they are quite large–the largest being 105″ x 85.”
Using our large waterbath we’ll use a very safe and dilute formula to clean the stains, adding extra strength with a conservation paste that we’ll gently scrub into the problem areas. Storage in wooden chests turned out to be the culprit for acid stains. They show as a light yellow and luckily will not be as difficult to remove. Afterwards the quilts will be carefully dried and blotted with wool felt. This step will also give us the chance to help square the dimensions.
In the areas of loss, period fabrics will be used to in-fill, with an emphasis placed on salvaging as much of the original fabric as possible.
Three of the quilts will be sewn to a mount and placed behind UV-filtering OP-3 plexiglass in a shadow box frame.
The oldest quilt is the Sally Campbell Quilt, the first in the photographs. It comes from the Federal style within The Young Republic age of American history. It also happens to be the largest, and it has an interesting asymmetrical design that we are still in the process of figuring out what type of furniture it was meant for. If you look closely you’ll notice the smaller, blue stars flank two sides, but share a corner, and at a third edge it stops midway through the larger stars that are encircled with the blue background. We expect to uncover some fascinating history with these quilts. Information that we’ll surely pass on. Stay tuned for more…
This family heirloom came in with a fungal invasion, and acid contamination that we believe to have been caused by a stretcher bar. Cleaning, drying, and pressing prepared the textile for an archival mount onto foamcore that was then covered with a single-ply linen mat. A custom frame in the American Hicks style with veneer and black corner blocks was prepared and then given archival glass to finish. Every family heirloom is unique, but this particular textile, with the restoration and custom frame, gave us the opportunity to impart our diverse talents, to what we know will be a cherished keepsake for many years to come.