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Two Heads Are Better Than One; Conserving a memorial embroidery sampler. A joint project between the Textile and Paper conservators

Kim Thüsing, 10 Mawrth 2016

A number of months ago, I told you that we are currently busy preparing objects for our new galleries.  The most recent one to land on our work table is a Memorial sampler.  It has an embroidered inscription, carried out in cross-stitch using silk thread, which reads: ‘In loving memory of / Elizabeth Morgan, / formerly of Llanishan / who died Dec 6th 1885 / Aged 30 years / and was interred at / Glyn-Taff Cemetery / A Ray of light from God’s own light - / She beamed and made of life the best / She touched the earth and made it bright / She blest us all and went to rest.’

The sampler was donated by the great-grand daughter of Elizabeth Morgan, T. A. Bennett, from Pen-y-Graig, Rhondda. 

The interesting thing about this sampler is that the ground is not textile but is made from card punched through with a gridwork of holes, through which the embroidery is worked.  As it is made from both textile and paper elements this has given us an opportunity to tackle its conservation as a cross-disciplinary project; drawing on our respective expertise in both textile and paper conservation.

Looking at the object in its frame, the senior conservator archives and I could already see that the sampler had been badly mounted in the past, having been adhered directly to a rigid card backing.  This has been partly responsible for causing splits in the card ground as the unevenly applied adhesive restricted its natural expansion and contraction through changes in environmental humidity levels.  Our challenge here will be to devise a method of removing the embroidery from this unsuccessful backing and to come up with a new method of stabilising and mounting it, so that it can be displayed safely.  As we get stuck into the project, we shall give you updates on how the work is progressing.

 

 

Kim Thüsing

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