Do you have questions about wedding dress preservation? Such as what is the proper way to store your wedding gown? What is better for wedding dress preservation, tissue or muslin wrapping? Which box is better, buffered or unbuffered for wedding gown preservation? Does cedar offer any protection for textiles? What in the world is lignin anyway?
We recently asked some these questions to Margaret Geiss-Mooney, our expert textile conservator. She is the textile expert that assists us when we have questions and to ensure that our treatments and preservation materials are all museum quality. Here are her answers…
Does cedar offer any protection to garments beyond protecting them from insects?
Cedar doesn’t offer protection from insects (moths/beetles in their larval form) that go after the proteins (i.e. wools; feathers; leathers) and cellulosics in textiles (i.e. cotton; basts; rayon; acetate). Wood should be avoided for preservation because of the acidic components in wood that can’t be blocked with paint/finish.
What has provided protection from the insects in a cedar chest is the well constructed chest (solid wood pieces; no gaps throughout; well fitted lid) combined with the practices involved in putting away textiles/costumes in to the chest (inspected and cleaned before stored; cleaning usually pretty harsh including being boiled or beaten on a clothes line with a rug beater; rotating in and out every 6 months with the change of seasons). .
What is better for wrapping textiles, tissue or muslin?
The cotton fabric that is in intimate contact with the garments should be preshrunk/rinsed in order to eliminate any possible physical shrinkage and to remove sizing applied for the weaving process.
Does cotton muslin have any lignin in it?
How long will acid-free/lignin-free tissue remain acid free?
Can you tell us a bit about lignin?
Is acid-free, lignin-free paper completely acid-free and lignin free?
For preservation, do you recommend using all buffered boxes, unbuffered or differentiating between boxes based on the garment fabric?
The pH of buffered boxes and tissue are usually too high/alkaline for the protein-based fibres (such as silk). Coroplast™ boxes are also superior to paper-based boxes in those situations where the box would be stored in high RH environments as the polyethylene does not absorb any moisture. I also recommend the use of cotton/silk fabric for wrapping instead of paper-based tissue.
Learn more about textile preservation at: Smithsoneon Museum Conservation Institute
Contact Margaret Geiss-Mooney at: http://www.textileconservator.com/