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Antique tapestries restoration with excellent results
For the restoration of an antique tapestry sometimes we propose three solutions to the customer and therefore we advance three quotes to give him the opportunity to choose which type of restoration he wants and its likely cost. First of all we take off the protective nets we included for washing; then we choose the method of restoration most suitable to the state of the fabric:
- Integrative Restoration (which is not reconstruction of the images), if we think that the reconstruction of the warp and weft and the application supports is the best way for the consolidation of the tapestry itself.
- Conservative Restoration in case we cannot use the integrative: it is done by applying to the back of the tapestry some supports to give it strength.
- Mixed Restoration between integrative and reconstructive
Choice of the tapestries restoration method: conservative or integrative
For the restoration we can then proceed as described below:
Partial conservative restoration
- Closing of the cuts and application of cotton supports on the back to a height of about 60 cm, thus reinforcing the ruined parts at the top, as it is found to be the area that over the years has borne the weight of the tapestry.
- Application of the lining on the back fixing it to different points of the tapestry at 20 cm distance to support the weight.
Total conservative restoration
- Application of cotton supports on the back reinforcing the ruined parts with no visible seams.
- Inserting wefts, even in silk, anchored to the support in order to limit the aesthetic damage
- Application of the lining on the back fixing it to different points of the tapestry so that the weight is distributed and supported for the most part by the canvas on the back in order to avoid weight to the tapestry’s structures.
Integrative restoration of the missing parts reconstruction
- Re-weaving of the more ruined parts to recreate the missing subjects.
- Application of cotton supports on the back to reinforce the structures with invisible seams
- Application of the lining on the back fixing it to different points of the tapestry so that the weight is distributed and supported for the most part by the canvas on the back in order to avoid weighing down the tapestry.
As our research on the latest restoration methods never ends, we are however conscious of the problematic aspects that these delicate interventions entail. So we take great care in all phases of these methods. The restoration’s yarn must be of the same nature as the original, with similar morphological characteristics and it is dyed with synthetic colorants, stable to light and with a movement of color change similar to that of the dyes on the antique yarns. The mending of the tapestries’ open deadlifts are performed in reverse according to the original technique.
The tapestries’ lining
Concluded the restoration, we move on to the lining, using the original fabric, if it is still in good condition, or with a linen or cotton cloth with color tones in harmony to the work. The lining is sewn behind the tapestry with a series of alternate rows so as to obtain a regular and uniform strain once the fabric is hung. The tapestries are never perfectly straight and squared, especially if their size is considerable; once hung, therefore, they tend to fall into their natural inclination. Forcing this inclination provokes new traction which means that over time it can create new cracks.
How to hang the tapestry
For the hanging, a high 5 cm strip of soft Velcro (female) is sewn on the upper back and, if necessary, also in other areas, securing both the Velcro and the lining. In this way the strain due to its own weight is minimized, having to remain hanging for years. Obviously, the wooden support structure to be applied on the wall, will have to be made so that the Velcro male can be applied in correspondence with the one applied on the tapestry.
Sometimes we are asked to perform the restoration without first washing the tapestry. Obviously the restorers work with the tapestry a few inches from their faces and are forced to touch it constantly; it is therefore easy to understand that if this is not properly cleaned those who have to spend hours or days working on it operate in unhygienic conditions. And there is another problem: if the fabric is not cleaned properly the actual colors cannot be seen, especially in the antique tapestries that have not been touched for years and years.