5 October 2011
Remove label and reattach new label. Surface clean. Humidify to open out, try to realign loose threads. Make internal support from polyester wadding and dyed silk fabric. Support/secure fraying edges by stitching, utilising internal support to secure in place.
The sock is fairly complete, although there is a large missing area on one side of the ankle, extending down to the heel. There are a few small holes. The colours of the stripes are quite bright, although the sock is slightly soiled and stiffened in appearance. It is flattened and distorted as it has no internal support.
Around the area of loss the fibres are fraying and there is one piece of sock remaining which is held on by only a few threads and is vulnerable to loss.
A paper label with the registration number on is held with a fine thread through the front, middle of the sock.
A sample was taken from the fraying threads at the edge of the large area of loss, to be used for analysis. Radio carbon dating showed with a 95.4% probability to be between 200-400AD.
The sock was photographed.
The label was removed. The sock was surface cleaned using a soft brush and light vaccuum suction. Firstly, the effect of the brush on the fibres was observed through a microscope to make sure that this method did not cause any damage. The cleaning was found to reduce the appearance of the grey soiling.
In order to open out and reshape the sock it was placed inside the humidity cabinet and the humidity raised to 95% over several hours. Small pieces of soft net were gradually inserted into the foot piece. The ankle piece was supported using a temporary insert of polyester wadding, covered with silk fabric. The top of the ankle was temporarily secured to the insert by pinning a piece of cotton tape around it , so that they ankle piece could remain upright. It was left in the cabinet overnight, turned off but with the RH at 90%. The next day the sock felt slightly softer and soft net was gradually inserted until it was felt that the sock was sufficiently reshaped. The small sock piece, which was attached by only a few threads, was pinned through the interstices into the temporary support in the ankle area, so that there was no risk of it becoming separated.
Inserts were made using polyester wadding covered with brown silk fabric, as agreed with E O'Connell. Two wedge-shaped inserts was made for the main foot piece, which extended into the toes. One cylindrical shaped piece was made to fit into the ankle.
A piece of dyed nylon net was wrapped around the top of the sock and stitched to itself in the area of damage. This had the function of holding the nearly detached fragment in position and helping the sock retain its shape by holding it to the insert beneath. The nylon net could be removed if required. Although it is visible on close inspection it avoids the need for a more interventive support or stitching treatment.
A support board was made from a Correx (polypropylene/ polyethylene copolymer,coorugated sheet) base, which was covered with cotton domette and then cotton calico, heat sealed on the reverse to Vinamul 3252 (vinyl acetate,ethylene copolymer) which had been applied and allowed to dry. A panel of cotton calico was stitched to the reverse for strength.