Monday, July 15, 2013

Ida McKinley Dress Project Video!

Click here to see the video about Ida's gowns that will be part of the new McKinley Gallery kiosk!

Ida McKinley Dress Mugshots

I'm working on a new grant proposal and I've been trying to decide which dress to target next.  I wanted an easy reference sheet to keep track of the dresses visually, so I created these "mugshot" sheets to help!

These are all 20 of the dresses we have targeted to be part of this project.  As you can see, we've got three of them funded!

Just 17 to go...

If you'd like to make a donation, please send a check to:

Ida McKinley Dress Project
McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
800 McKinley Monument Dr NW
Canton OH  44708

Every dollar we raise for this project goes directly to the conservation of one of Ida's gowns.  Your donation is also 100% tax deductible!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ida Dress Project UPDATE - Dress #1

Here are some details about the work textile conservator Chandra Obie has done so far on Dress #1 in the Ida McKinley Dress Project.

The first dress is an elaborate two-piece beige silk damask dress with a pattern of leaves and small flowers. The bodice is heavily ornamented with pearls, glass beads, and tiny square mirrors. The dressmaker's waist tape reads: "Mrs. Dunstan, 6 East 30th St., New York." This dress is absolutely lovely!

The following quotes are from Chandra, discussing the work she's done on the dress so far:

Detail #1
The inside edge of the chiffon panel was torn away and a small section appeared to be lost so what remained could not reach all the way to the seam line.  I completed the lost part and supported the damaged, weak edge by adhering it to a patch of silk crepeline impregnated with conservation adhesive.  I tacked the edge back in place to match that tacks that remained (originally, this panel was probably sewn in the seam somehow but that evidence was probably lost when the lining was restored).  

Detail #2
The treatment for the skirt hem is not finished yet, but it is also getting adhesive patch support.  This area is a case of "one step back to make two steps forward."  To get access to the reverse of the damaged fabric, I had to take apart part of the hem where the restoration lining was sewn to the skirt.  Luckily, those aren't original stitches anyway.  With the restoration lining released, access in this area is very good so I can use larger support patches that extend the area of support and move the edge of the patch (which can create an area of stress) well away from weak areas.  Those patches are also silk crepeline impregnated with adhesive.  I apply it to the reverse with just light tacks (the adhesive starts to stick with just the heat of your fingers), turn back to the face where I can align lose threads and be sure slits are closed, then activate the adhesive with a heated spatula.  The finish will be nearly invisible with the slits and tears (like the patch tear open in this picture) held in place from the reverse.

Detail #3
I treated a small tear on the proper right shoulder just outside of the beading.  A small adhesive patch was slipped through the tear, aligned with tweezers, and activated with the heated spatula.  This area undergoes a lot of movement so I also stitched the slit closed with Skala thread using a laid-thread-couching technique.  I'm not satisfied with the finish on the areas I stitched so I may pick them out and try again with a finer thread.

Detail #4
The beaded sections have a metal coil detail.  It looks like a thin, flat ribbon of metal and has no core.  It is probably brass: the copper has reacted with acid and produced  salt byproducts (which appear as that green, crusty stuff).  The corrosion is quite extensive in some areas and the metal coil is very thin, so the corroded areas can't be safely cleaned.  I used tweezers, a soft brush, and vacuum suction to reduce the thickest buildup and remove it before the salts could work their way deeper into the embellishment.