19 March 2012

Freezing textiles

A couple of years ago I was given a ticket to an event at the V&A called "Craving, collecting and caring: quilts" - it was being run in conjunction with the big quilts exhibition. Recently I found the handout about dealing with insect infestations (think moths). This is a summary.
- fold or roll the textile so that it's small enough to fit into the freezer, padding folds with tissue. Wrap it in tissue or calico

- now wrap in strong plastic and tape shut with strong tape - you want to shut out air to decrease the likelihood of conservation

- place in a freezer* with a temperature of -20 degrees centigrade. The textile needs to freeze quickly, otherwise the insects may merely become dormant

- leave in the freezer for 7 days

- on removing the package from the freezer, don't open it till it's completely thawed - which may take 48 hours for a dense item

- open, inspect, and vacuum away debris; dispose of the vacuum bag  "as dead insects become food for other pests"

*Chest freezers are recommended, not just for size but for the lower temperatures. I've been rotating my woolens through the upright freezer to reduce the possibility of moth recurrence -- but this could merely be superstitious behaviour and not actually doing any good! btw, costumes with glass, bone, ivory, shell decoration or buttons should not be frozen.

Recommended publications:
National Trust Manual of Housekeeping
Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist

1 comment:

magsramsay said...

The same technique is used for Herbarium specimens