Preservation Week Day 4: Preserving Textiles

This is the fifth post in a week-long series celebrating National Preservation Week.  NMAM blog posts in this series will discuss how to preserve your own modeling history.  
 
Textiles are not as common in modeling collections as they are in other types of historical collections, but they can be found.  Club t-shirts, competition-specific baseball caps, and patches collected from various events all carry memories, even if those memories are just, “I can’t believe I used to wear this!”

Start with:
1.  Washing & thoroughly drying your hands before handling any textiles you want to preserve.  2.  Keep them in an environment where you consistently feel comfortable – it shouldn’t be too hot, or too cold.
3.  Only store the items folded as a last resort.  If possible, try keeping them rolled, or hang clothing on a well-padded hanger. 

Most of our historic clothing is stored hanging on padded hangers.  The entire shelf is covered with acid-free tissue to prevent damage from light and dust.
Most of our historic clothing is stored hanging on padded hangers. The entire shelf is covered with acid-free tissue to prevent damage from light and dust.
Source: National Model Aviation Museum, collections storage.

4.  If you have to keep something folded, fold it loosely and pad out the folds with acid-free tissue so they don’t result it creases. 
5.  Use the right materials.  Acid-free materials are vital when caring for textiles.  If you can’t afford acid-free tissue paper, use clean, unbleached muslin or clean white cotton sheets. 
6.  Cover the textile with acid-free tissue, unbleached muslin or white cotton sheets to protect it from dust and light. 

A competition jersey stored boxed with the folds padded out with acid-free tissue.
A competition jersey stored boxed with the folds padded out with acid-free tissue.
Source: National Model Aviation Museum, Collected by Staff, 2011.02.13.

7.  Keep them away from food, drink, and light, as well as markers and ink that could stain the material.
8.  If something is dirty, instead of washing it vacuum it.  Use the hose on your vacuum and slowly move the hose over the textile, but without touching it.
9.  Inspect it often.  Every other month inspect the textile for signs of pest activity.  Every other year wash or change out the padding and covering material.
10.  Write it down.  Tie (not tape!) to the covering a sheet of paper that clearly indicates what the textile is inside. 

Go a bit further:
1.  Purchase acid-free storage boxes from a museum products supplier like Gaylord or Hollinger Metal Edge.  

A baseball cap worn during the 1979 Trans-Am RC Relay Race.  It is stored boxed, with the cap filled out with acid-free tissue paper.
A baseball cap worn during the 1979 Trans-Am RC Relay Race. It is stored boxed, with the cap filled out with acid-free tissue paper.
Source: National Model Aviation Museum, donated by Allen Beatty, 2008.27.01.

2.  Use Orvus Paste to wash textiles, but only if they have to be washed.  Don’t use everyday laundry detergents as they are often too harsh and will damage historic textiles.  Wash the item by hand and not in a washing machine.  Anytime you wash the covering materials you can use Orvus for those as well.
3.  Use cotton gloves when handling the textile. 

Learn more:
Last Year’s ALA webinar on caring for textiles.
The Textile Museum’s textile care information.
The Henry Ford’s textile care information.
NMAM’s short guide to creating a padded hanger.

NPS’ Conserve-O-Gram on how to make a padded hanger.

If you want more advice on preserving your textiles, feel free to ask your questions to the museum’s blog, Facebook page, or by emailing staff directly at mariav@modelaircraft.org.

Preservation Week - pass it onSponsored by the ALA’s Association for Library Collections and Technical Services and partner organizations, Preservation Week will inspire actions to preserve personal, family and community collections of all kinds, as well as library, museum and archive collections. It will raise awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions can play in providing ongoing preservation information. More information can be found at: www.ala.org/preservationweek.

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