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Tuesday, May 17 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Textiles) Foxy Underpants; or, the use of chelators, enzymes, and surfactants to remove foxing stains from linen underpants

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This paper describes a successful treatment to reduce foxing stains on a pair of men’s linen underpants ca. 1830 in the collection of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The underpants are ankle length, and have a wide corset-like waistband containing 12 baleen stays. Such undergarments are rare in museum collections, yet provide a reminder of the importance of fashionable bodies for men. Foxing stains can be disfiguring on any work of art, but the stains were considered particularly distracting on the underpants. While foxing stains are a common problem in textile collections, most recent studies have focused on paper collections. Building on research by paper conservators and scientists, this treatment addressed the metals and microorganisms that cause foxing stains. Rather than use bleaching agents, the underpants were wet cleaned in a series of baths with the chelator ethylenediaminetetraacidic acid (EDTA), a lysing enzyme, and sodium laurel sulfate surfactant. An agarose poultice with hydroxybenzyl ethylenediamine (HBED) was used to target an area with dark stains. In both visible and ultraviolet light, the stains showed considerable reduction after the treatment.

avatar for Laura Mina

Laura Mina

Associate Conservator, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Laura Mina is the Associate Conservator with The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before joining the MMA in 2014, Laura was the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in costume and textile conservation with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She previously worked with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Museum Conservation Institute. She received her M.A. in Fashion and Textile... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 10:00am - 10:30am
Room 511 A/D

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