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Sunday, May 15 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Textiles) The Creation of a Digitally Printed Reproduction Sleeve for an Eighteenth-Century Painted Silk Dress

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This case study examines the use of digital printing for the conservation treatment of an eighteenth-century Chinese painted silk robe à la polonaise in the collection of the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gown was accessioned into the museum’s collection in 1976 with a missing left sleeve. In anticipation of the Spring 2015 Costume Institute exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, it was decided to use digital printing to update the previous hand-painted replica sleeve. Digital printing was chosen for its ability to more closely reproduce the textured appearance of the eighteenth-century hand-painted fabric. Although the original fabric was created with a combination of painted pigments and block printing, the two earlier hand-painted reproductions had proved that the eighteenth-century textile was difficult to duplicate with the paints and fabric available in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Digital printing on fabric has been in practice from the late 1990s and in use in textile conservation since the early 2000s. For this treatment, we had the experience of working closely with a skilled digital printing studio to recreate the fabric. The studio, which specializes in dyeing and printing for the fashion industry, was one of the first in the United States to work with digital printing technology. This collaboration proved invaluable to the success of the project. This presentation will illustrate the challenges faced by both the conservators and the digital printing studio in the process of recreating painted historic fabric. Through a review of the treatment from start to finish, this case study presents resources and considerations for conservators using digital printing treatments in the future.

avatar for Alexandra Barlow

Alexandra Barlow

Assistant Conservator, Textile Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Alexandra Barlow is an Assistant Conservator in the Textile Conservation Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She received her BA in Anthropology from San Francisco State University and her MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice from the Fashion Institute of Technology. During her coursework, Alexandra held a graduate internship position in the conservation lab of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan... Read More →

Miriam Murphy

Conservator, Private Practice
Miriam Murphy is a conservator of textiles and costume in private practice in St. Louis, MO. Previously she was assistant conservator in the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and held Kress and Smithsonian Conservation Fellowships at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. She received her MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice with a focus in Conservation from the Fashion Institute of... Read More →

Sunday May 15, 2016 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Room 511 A/D

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