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Conserving the funerary cloth of Isetnefret

Painted textiles present many challenges to the conservator. The paint is often poorly bound to the surface, especially if any binders mixed with the paint have broken down on ageing. A textile is a very mobile substrate (material that supports another material) and the paint can easily be lost by rubbing or flexing. On this textile the paint is mainly well bound except for the arms and faces of both female figures where it is flaking and some paint has been lost. The friable (crumbly) pigment in these areas was consolidated.

Stitching is generally an unsuitable repair method for painted textiles as a needle may pierce and damage the paint layer. Alternative repair methods generally have to be sought. This textile had a severe split running vertically down the centre and other weak areas. These were strengthened by applying patches and strips of a fine Japanese tissue paper with an adhesive. A paper hinge was used to secure the textile to its display fabric. The adhesive chosen can be very easily reversed (unstuck) in the future if required. A new mount was made for the textile: prior to treatment the textile was mounted in a glass sandwich frame (between two sheets of glass) and the glass was resting on the vulnerable paint surface.