From my teenage years I've had somewhat of an obsession with the Victorian era, namely the costumes that they wore, and this soon led me to develop a succinct interest in the dress and textiles of other periods within history. In college, I would often miss hitting criterion relative to achieving higher grades because all I wanted to do was to replicate costumes, and look after them, not wanting to add needless contemporary twists. For example, one absurd idea I was told to think about was to create a Victorian dress out of plastic! No thank you!
Me, aged 15 at Whitby Goth Weekend
I looked into doing costume at University but there were no courses that I could find that would allow me to just replicate so I hit a bit of a brick wall with that one, until I found out about Conservation & Restoration. I realised that this was exactly what I wanted to do, to conserve, clean and restore our history so that others could enjoy it. The thing about historic textiles compared to all other materials is that it is the fastest decaying because it is organic and so hugely prone to damage and decomposition. Baring this in mind, the conservation of textiles is not an easy task. You may even have heard horror stories about antique textiles turning to mush because some silly person has put it in the washing machine! Not good.
The course itself encompasses all materials (archaeological, metal, wooden, textile, paper, ceramic and decorative objects) with a module in science and chemistry, as it is imperative to understand the chemical processes that each object withstands in its lifetime, and also what would happen to use certain chemicals and solvents in cleaning it. It also covers history, as it is important to know where objects come from and what their uses would have been.
I could literally ramble on about my course and the subject all day, so without further ado, here are some of the things I got up to... I should also say, please be aware that I am only able to include a few photos, some not the best quality, as many of them are used in my professional portfolio, so wouldn't want them to go walkies!