Textile Conservation Workshop

Surrey Museum Partnership: Conservation Seminars 2015

29th June 2015 – Surrey History Centre, Woking

Textile Conservation Workshop: Zenzie Tinker, Conservation for Museums, Galleries and Private Collectors

www.zenzietinker.co.uk, info@zenzietinker.co.uk, Tel: 01273 685222

On Monday 29th June a group of Surrey Museum staff and volunteers gathered at Surrey History Centre for a training day centred on Textile Conservation.

Zenzie Tinker ACR and her colleague Ania Golebiowska, brought a large handling collection with them from Brighton. From acid free storage boxes appeared a wonderful array of historic costume and textiles, in various states of preservation; much as exists in the social history collections of our museums. There was also a wide range of conservation materials, padded mounts and hangers for the assembled group to see, touch and work with.

Zenzie began the session by explaining the factors in the deterioration of textile and costume: by natural processes, including environmental conditions and pests as well as poor handling and storage and, fascinatingly, by the inherent weakness resulting from the production of some textiles; 19th Century tin weighted silk, for example.

A second powerpoint talk focused on mounting and storage methods. Using examples of good and bad practice, Zenzie explained the importance of proper structural support both in display and storage conditions. Simple, economical solutions to problems associated with preventive conservation were recommended, such as using Melinex to isolate textiles from wood or metal in displays and how to transform an ordinary coat hanger into a conservation grade support.

After lunch, the delegates were let loose on the handling collection. Metres and metres of delicate, silk, Victorian gowns, flattened bows, reams of lace, bodices, mittens and a baby bonnet were carefully supported, rolled and boxed; initially with trepidation but, with Zenzie and Ania’s supportive encouragement, increased confidence.

It was a very fulfilling and productive day which everybody thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from.


Acid free tissue puffs and rolls inserted into the bodice, sleeves and individual bows to prevent creasing.


Sleeve, collar and costume mounts for display and storage


A close up of a piece of unsupported lace


Rolling the lace on a Melinex and acid free tissue roll


A Victorian bodice: evidence inside revealed adaptations, possibly related to changes in ownership or fashion -note the sleeves above


Delegates practicing making acid-free tissue rolls and puffs


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