- Permanent Exhibition
- Treatment of upper body:
Light surface clean with low powered vacuum suction and soft brush, taking care not to abrade the surface. Little visible difference; soiling is ingrained.
Removed moth casing from front face with tweezers. Confirmed no further evidence of any recent or active pest infestation.
It was decided to retain and readhere the 1980s support lining to the lower half of the upper body. This seemed to be a less intrusive and damaging approach than trying to remove the lining completely as although partially detached in areas, in other areas it remained well attached. There was sufficient adhesive remaining on the nylon tissue that could be reset with a heated spatula, working from the inside, and only minimal spots of new adhesive (Lascaux 498 acrylic emulsion) had to be added. It was also concluded that the 1980s lining had only extended half way up the body because of lack of access, and it proved difficult to apply further support patches to weak areas in the upper section of the body from the inside.
The colour and smooth texture of this nylon support meant that areas of loss, particularly on the centre front and back of the body, were quite visible and distracting to the painted design. Additional infills of kozo (paper mulberry) fibre, coloured with acrylic paints, were added to some of these areas, adhering the infill to the underlying nylon tissue support with a spot of Lascaux 498. The texture of these new infills matched the original material better.
The torn 1980s tissue patch to the larger area of damage at the side of the top of the head was removed. This then allowed for the insertion of repair patches to be inserted through this hole to reinforce and stabilise the worst of vertical splits in ‘face’ area. The patches were 12gsm Japanese paper, coloured with diluted acrylics, and brushed with thin coating of wheat starch paste. A long Melinex ‘spatula’ and/or a broader padded and Tyvek covered wood ‘spatula’ helped in the placing the pasted patches in position inside the mask, before pressing down from the front and withdrawing the spatula. Access was challenging and not all splits were backed, as further protection would be given by a new mount, preventing stress on these areas. The large area of damage at the side of the head was reinforced with a patch where a split had developed, but it was decided not to patch or infill the remaining hole (partly to enable point of access for further patching to splits in the future). Black paper applied to the mount provide some sufficient visual infill.
Agreement was obtained from the curator to release some of the (non original) ties at the side sleeve openings in order to relieve stress on the barkcloth. It was also agreed to release the string tying the two sleeves together across the middle of the inside of the mask.
Treatment of the skirt:
Little detangling was possible due to fragility of the material. Where evident, loose and detached lengths were secured, adhering the ends to adjacent lengths of fringe and relaying delaminations with a spot of Lascaux 498 acrylic adhesive. One of the two extra-long fringe lengths was significantly delaminating along its length, and tabs of very fine Japanese tissue were used to interleave or wrap sections in order to hold it together (wheat starch as adhesive) (NB these are quite visible). Additionally ties of button cotton held the two strands together at the upper ends. They remain vulnerable, and recommend that they are looped up when not on display.
Treatment of the sleeves:
Small pieces of minimally attached outer bark were adhered using spots of neat Lascaux 498 applied on fine brush.
The misshapen cuff of one sleeve was successfully reshaped through successive localized contact humidification (wrapping the end of the sleeve in a slightly dampened cloth, with Goretex barrier), with plastazote discs of increasing size used to apply pressure from the inside, opening up the rigid plant stem ring at the cuff. It was important to reshape this in order to allow for the insertion of an internal pad for the sleeve.
The thin tissue patches applied to the larger holes in 1980s were removed by mechanically tearing away the paper. Adhesive residues were not treated to remove, and some of the edges of the holes remain hardened with this adhesive.
Local patch supports were applied to reinforce areas of damage.
In some cases, these were splits in the barkcloth that could be completely brought together with no loss of material. Here patches of Japanese paper, coloured with diluted acrylic paints, were adhered to the inside of the sleeve using a mixture of wheat starch paste and Lascaux 498 acrylic adhesive.
In other cases, there were areas of loss, or splits could not be aligned. Here, additional infills were adhered to the paper patches applied as above. To make the infills, strips of beaten kozo fibre (Art Van Go supplier) was soaked in water overnight and then the fibres were manually spread and teased out to create a lacey material, which visually matched the barkcloth much better than Japanese papers. The kozo fibre material was coloured using diluted gouache paints, and using a Melinex template traced of the area of loss, was cut to shape. To create an infill of similar thickness and appearance to the original barkcloth it was found that best results were given by laminating two layers of the kozo fibre material together with spot of acrylic adhesive, varying the colouration of each layer. Once prepared, the infill was adhered to the underlying paper repair patch (already in place on the sleeve) using acrylic/wheat starch adhesive mixture, teasing the fibres at the edges of the infill patch to blend with the barkcloth fibres at the edges of the hole. These infills also helped the sleeve retain its shape rather than ‘collapsing’ around the losses.
Consideration was given regarding the closeness of the match of the infills, but whilst blending into the original barkcloth from the front, they are clearly identifiable as added conservation material from the inside because of the paper patch behind.
Whilst the majority of areas were patched and infilled as above, it was decided to leave the largest hole, at the elbow of one sleeve. The surrounding barkcloth was strong, without any radial splitting. An internal soft mount would support the sleeve.
Provision of an internal support mount:
A conformingly shaped internal support mount for the barkcloth of the upper body was felt to be important to provide protection from puncture damage, reduce strain from hanging and to bear the weight of the sleeves.
A conical shaped support was made from buckram (linen scrim fabric/wheat starch adhesive), covered in Fosshape (heat set polyester felt), polyester wadding and Tyvek. This extended to the bottom of the upper body. A disc of Forrex board was fixed inside this (screwed through the buckram from the sides of the mount), into which fixings for an adjustable height pole stand were attached.
In order to support the sleeves, circular discs of Forrex board, covered with Fosshape, were cut to fit inside the circular opening of the upper end of the sleeves. These were attached to either side of the conical body support in the appropriate position by means of screws. A 20mm diameter x 5mm deep circular disc N42 neodymium magnet with countersunk central hole was also screwed into this Forrex disc in order to attach sleeve mounts.
Separate sleeve mounts were made using a length of armature wire (3/8th inch square aluminium armature wire from Tirantis), sleeved in a polyester felt tube and further padded and shaped with polyester wadding. A final covering of silk habutai was dyed reddish brown to suit the colour of the sleeves. A matching 20mm diameter x 5mm thickness neodymium N42 disc magnet was sewn onto the the end of the sleeve mount, so that it would connect to the body mount once inserted. The armature wire allowed for some repositioning of the arms.
Photographs of condition before treatment and treatment processes can be found under Odin classification Research/Conservation/Organics/Barkcloth projects/Cubeo dance maskAm1920,0705.61