Thursday, February 25, 2016

Egyptian Tent Panel & New England Coverlet

Blogger's Note: This semester students taking Care and Conservation of Textiles—a course offered through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design—will share some of their experiences working with the International Quilt Study Center & Museum collection.

By Jamie Swartz

One of the many perks of taking Textile Care & Conservation at IQSCM is the hands-on experience of working with, and helping care for the museum’s collection. Being up close and personal with objects from the collection—while maintaining a safe distance and always wearing gloves while handling any object—is an experience afforded to very few people. While museum guests have the option to schedule a Behind-the-Scenes tour, which grants visitors a view into the inner workings of Collections storage and a look at objects from the IQSCM collection not on display, being a part of the Care & Conservation course is a wholly unique experience. As detailed in previous posts by my fellow classmates, each class period has been marked with a new learning experience in the particulars of museum care, specifically regarding quilts.

Did you know that IQSCM’s collection contains textiles and objects that aren’t necessarily quilts?  Last week our class interacted with two examples: a hand-appliqued Egyptian tent panel and stenciled coverlet from New England.

The tent panel is one of two similar recent acquisitions that exemplify the “International” in IQSCM. My classmates had the pleasure of carefully examining the appliqued panels and writing condition reports for both. I simply admired the hand-sewn appliqued designs and took photos for your viewing pleasure. It would be wise to keep abreast of future exhibitions at the museum, and you might have a chance to view the panels in person one day.

Our class was called into the photography studio where a stenciled coverlet from New England was being photographed for an upcoming IQSCM publication.

The stenciled coverlet from the Ardis and Robert James Collection has been professionally conserved in order to stabilize and preserve the overall integrity of the object. The conservation work can be seen in the photos.

The conservation work that was performed on this coverlet prevents the textile from being folded for storage. Our class had the pleasure of carefully rolling the coverlet onto a conservation-grade tube, which was no easy task. When a quilt or textile object is rolled for storage the object is sandwiched between two layers of acid-free tissue paper and rolled onto a tube that is wider than the object. Carefully attention is paid to make sure the quilt or textile does not pucker or crease while being rolled. All hands were occupied during the rolling of the coverlet, so no photos exist of the careful and methodical process.

The Egyptian tent panel and the New England coverlet offered unique a hands-on learning experience in our Care & Conservation coursework while granting an remarkable experience of interacting with the IQSCM’s collection.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum makes its academic home in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences.

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