Not every job can be carried out under laboratory conditions!

This case study illustrates the challenge of carrying out work on site, under time and budget constraints. Conservation of the chair’s upholstery was carried out on location with occasional audience participation, a power cut, time constraints and materials chosen in collaboration with staff `on the ground`.

A silk and wool canvas chair, early 19th Century, of petit point and cross stitch. The floral motifs are worked on double-fill canvas in cross stitch and the pastoral scene on single-fill canvas in tent stitch. The wooden frame is carved and gilded.

Chair in library at Scone

The effects of wear & tear, light, dirt and unfavourable environmental conditions have damaged the silk and wool threads and made holes in the linen canvas. Some of the gimp was unraveled and the pinky/red cotton backing cloth sun damaged, weak and torn.

Chair in library at Scone

To stabilize the holes and weak canvas, dyed patches were inserted and secured with conservation stitching. Where the gimp was loose and unravalled it was ordered and reattached. The chair's sun damaged red backing cloth was conserved and covered in dyed net.

To the left is a detail of the holes in the canvas and silk thread losses in the blue petit point background stitching.

Treatment detail
Wear and tear has caused canvas loss, the hole before a canvas patch was inserted and stitched down. The canvas chosen to fill the hole was selected for its texture and weave count, a different count was chosen for the chair's seat and back.

Treatment detail
The canvas patch sewn in place with couching lines worked in both directions to achieve a secure fixing around the edges. The fine stitching threads remained hardly visible.

Treatment detail
Before the unraveled and loose gimp was reordered and reattached.

Treatment detail
After the loose strands had been secured.

Treatment detail
The fragile and damaged sun bleached cotton backing cloth before conservation. To reduce costs a pre-dyed cotton was selected from the Baumann range, colour was suitable for long term display.

Treatment detail
The patch in place with a nylon net overlay. The least amount of stitching was worked, due to the tender nature of the sun bleached cotton. Net was selected because it was more robust, easier to cut and secure and work with whilst on site.

Sheer fabrics such as; silk crepeline, nylon net and polyester Stabiltex® are often used as an overlay in conservation. Some are more robust than others, net is easier to handle and produced in very wide widths. Selection is made according to each job requirements and budget.

Chair in library at Scone

Ater Conservation
Working on site in the Library, people were free to watch the work in progress and encouraged to ask questions.

By keeping the costs down, work was commissioned sooner, preventing the potential loss of some original material due to poor environmental conditions.

The client was advised to place the chair as far away from window light as possible and place a barrier to prevent the public from touching.