February 15, 2017
Looking for some input on approaches to thin brittle skins of small furbearing creatures. I’m thinking of garments made of rabbit, hare, and arctic ground squirrel in particular, where the skins are sewn together and we often see tears through aged or brittle skin that threatens the integrity of the garment. Included here are some specific images and examples.
ASM 20098-18-1 seal parka with a rabbit or hare trim. There are tears in the ringed seal skin, but it is the disintegrating cuffs that trouble me more treatment-wise.
Below are some images of a coat that belonged to beloved photographer Michio Hoshino. The garment has some substantial tears that make exhibition difficult.
I know there are many people in Alaska who have beautiful parkas still in use and much treasured, and when they begin to tear there are difficult decisions about when and if to wear them as well as whether they can be passed down to daughters and granddaughters for continued use. Sometimes the skins are still flexible, and other times they are brittle and cracking. For the reasonably supple ones, lining with Reemay and BEVA 371 film is a decent approach. But brittle skins of course have a lower shrinkage temperature due to degradation and heat set adhesives are more risky. For garments that are bearing the stress of their own weight or will be in active use, maybe there is a way to stabilize the damage while also making the garment more robust, perhaps with a supplementary lining that extended to more stable seams. Looking forward to your thoughts!
March 16, 2015
I’ve been posting snapshots if some of the conservation work ahead for our upcoming new exhibits. The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016. There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. The interpretive area addressed by this post is called “Alutiiq/Sugpiaq” and you might wonder why the two designations…actually, there could be more…including Chugach, Koniag, Qik’rtarmiut and others. Each of these ethnonyms conveys a complicated context of history and identity, particularly connected to specific places and experiences of contact with various colonial forces, such as the Russians. Which term is correct in which situation is a right of self-determination and personal preference for members of the Native community. The two terms used to title the section are the result of feedback from community co-curators thusfar.
ASM II-F-9 this delicate bag will require conservation attention to insure it can be supported adequately while on exhibit.
II-A-4944 Arctic Ground Squirrel Parka, lined with even more pelts. This item will need a mannequin, and perhaps some stabilization at the shoulder seams.
Here’s an old pic of Paul Gardinier showing me some tricks of mannequin making. We will need some 60 mannequins or more for the SLAM project. Paul and other staff will be working on this intensely this July.
I don’t have a lot of conservation concerns in this section of the exhibit, so this is a good time to show the floor plan for the new exhibits.
Here’s another sense of how the galleries might look.
And here is an artist rendering from the architects of what the outside might look like…