Saturday, June 22, 2013

Reticule Rescue Results

A natural follow up to the condition assessment I did on Ann Porterfield's reticule is a little tutorial on archival storage. For the most part, I'm not doing anything to undo damage to the bag, but I'm packaging it in a way that should prevent any further harm. This story is easiest to tell with images, so here they are.

The first step was to make an insert to go into the bag to eliminate the issue of pressed folds as much as possible. I made a simple insert by measuring the bag and making a sketch of a pattern that will be slightly smaller than the bag. It should be made so that it doesn't quite fill up the whole thing, otherwise the insert would stress the seams and be more harmful than helpful. Using this pattern, I cut out some natural unbleached cotton batting left over from my padded hanger project. I made about 8 of these to layer together as stuffing. Then I made an unbleached muslin casing for the batting layers. I left this open long enough to test the imsert to make sure that the size was appropriate. When I was satisfied with the height of the pad, I hand sewed the top to finish it.

Next, I got out my hand steamer and used it to relax the various creases. The idea here is to make as few folds and wrinkles as possible since they will make weak points over the long term. Having the padded insert in the purse helped to give it the proper shape as steam was applied without the stress and friction of pressing.  In the 'after' photos, you can barely see the crease in the middle where it seems the bag had been folded in storage.

Finally, the protective swaddling! I just happen to have some small acid-free boxes that I bought ages ago for my purse collection from Hollinger/Metal Edge, and one was the perfect size for my needs. All I had to do was line it with tissue to make a protective nest for the bag. While I generally opt for plain acid-free tissue as I mentioned in my post The Tissue Issue, for this project I used buffered tissue since I know that the bag is made entirely of cotton.

From start to finish, this padding and packaging project took me about two hours and cost approximately $10 in materials; a small price to pay for helping this little lovely survive another 200 years.

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