February 10, 2010
On Wednesday, February 3rd, we were very lucky to have textile consultants Jonathan Scheer and Rebecca Chartier (of J. Scheer and Co., Rhinebeck and New York) present our first “formal” workshop. First, we met around the big table in the Design Room to introduce ourselves, and then Mr. Scheer spoke about the care of textiles. His talk included an introduction to the factors of textile deterioration, characteristics of fibers, best practice for handling historic textiles, and strategic planning for the care of collections.
His assistant, Rebecca Chartier, also added a great deal to the discussion, particularly concerning environmental issues affecting collections, and how to mitigate some such problems. She also shared a sample condition report and treatment/mounting plan for an object she had worked with at the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian).
Then, after a short break, we moved downstairs to work hands-on with objects from our collection. Participants were divided into seven pairs, and each pair was assigned an object with a particular condition issue. Each pair worked on filling out a condition report worksheet, with close examination of the object. Mr. Scheer and Ms. Chartier circulated around the room to see what the students were discovering, offer guidance for their descriptions, and help with analysis and terminology.
Finally, we brought the group all together again, to talk about how some of the objects on display represented specific condition issues and terms. Mr. Scheer and Ms. Chartier both provided thoughtful answers to student questions, including interesting anecdotes from their personal experiences working with a variety of textiles at a variety of institutions.
The time went by far too quickly, but we are very grateful to Mr. Scheer and Ms. Chartier for this informative presentation!