Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blog Update

The About the Museum page has finally been updated!

I hope the page is an informative and entertaining read!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Museum Mysteries: Grimy Edwardian Petticoat

If you remember, underneath the 1909-14 Silk Wedding Gown was a surprisingly filthy Edwardian petticoat. The petticoat did nothing for the shape of the dress, but it seemed to have somehow absorbed whatever was leaking from the ceiling onto the dress...

Interestingly, the upper folds and waistband seem to be the worst areas affected by the moisture damage, but the entire petticoat is dirty. This leads me to believe that it was left dirty before it was even displayed under the wedding gown (Hint: don't put dirty petticoats under antique gowns).

The material was finely machine-pleated to a yoke.
The lace trim has also torn from the seam in a few places.
Submerged in water. I'm not sure what the accession number (written in marker) means.
I had to wash it before storing it. I took a deep black basin from the staff kitchen of the library and soaked the petticoat in water. I let it soak for 24 hours and tried not to agitate it, since it had a few tears. The petticoat really needs a decent wash and more time soaking (maybe some soap, too). Within minutes the water looked like urine and now I'm really curious as to what was leaking from the ceiling and what was dirtying up this petticoat!

A sample of the water after I removed the petticoat from its soak.
I was so curious, in fact, that I took a sample of the water post-wash. After about two weeks, something must've happened to all the oxygen molecules because the sealed bottle was all sucked in. Also, something rather brown and dust-like had settled at the bottom of the bottle...

My method for drying the petticoat in a limited space: folding it up and propping it on a bookstand hooked onto the drawer pulls. Unorthodox, but it worked!
The not-so cleaned definitely needs some soap and a larger washing vessel. Laying it flat to dry would also help!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Faded Wool, Silk, and Velvet Bodice c. 1905-8

The original, awkward, extremely anachronistic display of this bodice is described here. This bodice was infested with moths, so before I was able to properly store it, I had to tuck it in the freezer for a bit to kill off the moths.

This wool bodice had faded from a dark forest green to a dull moss color. The silk inset and neckband is very shattered. The neckband is trimmed with two strips of narrow black velvet ribbon. Black velvet also trims the waistband, and ends in a decorative "bow" at the left side closure. The sleeve cuffs and bodice are decorated with black velvet cut in a sharp scallop pattern. The scallops are decorated with seed beads and sequins. The bodice is lined in coral-colored cotton, black (possibly polished) cotton, and a gray floral pattern.

Fading under arm. The forest green wool faded to a soft olive shade from excessive exposure to sunlight.
The original color of the wool was preserved underneath the decorated beaded velvet "flaps."
The silk lining of the neckband and the silk inset had shattered.
The front flap is lined in coral-colored cotton. Beige bias binding encloses the seam.
Two sets of hooks and eyes in the front: on the right hand side of the "pigeon" gathers, and on the left side seam.

Black polished cotton is replaced for the green wool where the bodice fastens and overlaps.
I wonder what this loop is for?
Two hooks, presumably to secure a skirt.
Large stitches in black thread hold the gathers of the decorative velvet waistband in place.
Pleats on the elbow of the sleeve.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Victorian Black Silk Lace Shawl

Just like the Edwardian Child's Lace Coat, this black lace shawl was crumpled up inside a box. Some areas of the shawl are discolored to strange shades of brown and olive, due to sun exposure in the room where this was stored. The room has 3 nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, each barely covered with a sheer plastic-y curtain; parts of the shawl must've been too close to the opening of the box, and thus got tinged by the sun.

The shawl definitely feels like it's made of silk. I'm guessing it's late 19th century at the earliest, since it seems far too small to be a mid 19th century shawl. The flowers are similar to this shawl whose net background is much heavier. The shawl also looks like it was machine made, due to the thickness and tightness of the flower border motif.

I didn't want to display this shawl because I didn't want to risk any further sun damage. Also, it didn't seem an appropriate accessory to any of the garments on display. I carefully wrapped it up in many layers of acid-free tissue paper and stored it in a clean box.

The shawl spanned the whole length of this table, almost 5 feet long!
Some of the green and copper discoloration.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Edwardian Child's Lace Coat

This delicate cotton lawn and lace coat was found crumpled up at the bottom of a box in storage. It has a few dirt (?) stains but I was wary on cleaning them because the fabric and lace was torn in a few places and I didn't want to aggravate the damage. I did, however, store the coat properly by wrapping/lining it in layers of acid-free tissue paper and then placing it in an archival-quality box. The curved breast shape of the coat seem to indicate a pigeon-front style, and the decoration is a strong indicator that this piece is Edwardian.

The coat has a single snap fastening at the front, though the snap seems very modern--shiny and new--to me, so it was perhaps a later alteration when the old closure (likely a hook and eye) fell off. The skirt of the coat is slightly flared. The size and styling suggest that this may have been worn by a girl about nine years old.

The lace insertion all over the coat is a testament to the patience of the seamstress who made this: white cotton picot trim is connected by a white cotton tape woven through the picots! This treatment is used decoratively (as on the sleeves) and structurally (as on the armscye seam). The picot trim and insertion was sewn by machine. However, I'm unsure if the lace embroidery on the chest and back was down by machine or by hand--though I think it was likely machine made.

The front of the coat.
All of the delicate picot seams, and that nasty brown stain from this garment being crumpled up in a box!
The delicate sleeve trim.

With the coat open. Look at that curve!
(Sorry for the blurry photo!) A very modern-looking snap.
The back of the coat.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Accessories at the Kearny History Museum: Part 2

In this part of the accessory series, we'll be examining the objects displayed with the 1894-7 Corded Silk Gown.

This brown velvet hat is one of the few pieces in the Kearny History Museum that comes with an exciting provenance. It is decorated with fine brown plumage and a bird's head. The bird is unfortunately missing its right "eye." The crown is turned up in back. All over the hat, the velvet is gathered to produce a textural effect.  Along the rim of the crown, the velvet has worn away. The hat has a fitted lining made of disintegrating black cotton.

Look at all that dust, eughh!

Note the threadbare velvet.

Disintegrating black cotton underneath the hat helps hold the hat on a head.

The black beads in this purse are woven into the purses structure. It is not lined, but there is evidence that there was once a silk lining that disintegrated. The purse closes with a large snap, but one of the snaps is missing. A bit of white rope is fastened to the handle of the bag, presumably to help secure it to the mannequin's hand. I tried to remove the white rope, but it was tied so tightly I was afraid that I would harm the bag. Inside the bag was an embroidered white linen handkerchief. Faded, with multiple stains and tears, I'm unsure if the hanky is period or not, but I suspect that it is.

The beads of the purse have a black-brown shimmer.

I suspect that those bits of purple/brown material might be the remnants of a silk lining.

Very detailed embroidered motif.
I'm not too sure how those huge gaping tears came to be! I was afraid to wash it due to the fragility of the material.

I believe these black gloves date to at least the Edwardian (early 1900s) era. They have a bit of stretch/give to the them, and they appear to be machine made--just look at that machine sewn hem at the wrist! I soaked the gloves in cold water, and after just a few minutes the had a noticeably brown tone. After several more soakings I still wasn't able to get the entirety of the staining out, and I fear that part of the discoloration is fading from excessive exposure to light. The gloves are too small for the mannequin's hands; someone had removed one of the mannequin's fingers to help accommodate the gloves, but I popped off another finger for some extra ease.

Regardless, I think the accessories really "make" this display. I've arranged the accessories the way they were originally placed, as from a stylistic point of view their initial placement was visually pleasing and effective in creating a "scene."

Before washing the gloves. This staining could also be fading from excessive light.