Conservation of a 19thC horsehair and straw bonnet
Bonnet decorated with a posy of silk flowers; bonnet constructed from woven and twined bands of horsehair and straw with deep neck frill.
Client brief/role of object
Make safe for long term display and storage in museum.
Poor condition, severely distorted, failed stitching, split brim; misshapen and brittle silk petals and waxy leaves.
Loose particulate soils removed using low powered vacuum suction. Following humidification treatment, petals supported with adhesive overlays of semi-transparent silk. Deformations in bonnet’s main structure lessened by humidification treatment and gentle manipulation of the wire edging the brim and neck frill.
Bonnet deformations reduced further by mounting on a custom-made support form which could be used for storage, study and display. Designed to provide overall support, without obscuring the inner parts of the brim.
Condition after treatment
Bonnet and posy less vulnerable; well supported on mount; well protected in storage box.
Designed to reduce handling of the bonnet and to prevent the bonnet from touching the sides of the box.
The bonnet is part of the collection at Wardown Museum and Gallery.
Additional information on treatment in Tímár-Balázsy,Á. and Eastop, D. 1998. Chemical Principles of Textile Conservation. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, p 362 – 368.
Reproduced courtesy of Luton Culture and the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton. Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton © 2009
Kate Gill, TCC conservator
Treatment completed 1996