Centre for Textiles Conservation

This is going to be a long post! Documenting what I learned while on our fieldwork trip to Glasgow University, or more specifically, what the heading of this post says!

So what are some of the aims of the conservation centre?

  • To add and subtract the minimal amount of material possible to the textiles
  • Enable the object to communicate cultural and historical values
  • Protect, stabilize, and preserve the object


Sneaky pics of slides which stood out to me during the presentation.

The Centre for Textiles Conservation has responsibility for wider conservation. This is done through:

  • Assessment 
  • Visual observation 
  • Scientific analysis 
  • Historical reseach 
  • Documentation 

They also analyze weight structure of the textile objects, and use microscopes for close ups.


Absolutely stunningly beautiful embroidered beetle with all the different stitches labeled. Definitely something I will refer back to when doing my own embroidery.

I think overall this is my favorite pieces we were shown in the centre. It’s just stunning with the contrasting turquoise and gold beadwork. Such a delicate piece, I wish I could create something like this.




A little look at some of the samples we were lucky enough to get to handle!

How are the textiles cleaned?

When old and/or damaged textiles are brought into the centre there are several different cleansing processes they can be put through:

Mechanical methods:

  • vacuuming
  • makeup sponges
  • blankets

These are preferred as they are least invasive cleaning method.

Chemical methods

  • Gels-gentle way of cleaning which is impregnated with solvents or water
  • Wet cleaning-more invasive
  • Detergent is made depending on type of material
  • Solvent cleaning-more localised

Microscopes are used to see every single fibre making this a very accurate process.


A look into the designated cleaning room with the box of makeup sponges + Me and Lucia in the dye room.

When the textiles are cleaned the water they are washed with is purified.


Beautiful embroidery imagery I spotted in the centre’s hallways.


Photos I captured from the dye labs.

How do they go about the dying process?

Dyeing is precise and high maintenance process when carried out. Synthetic dyes are try tested and true, meaning it is easiest to recreate the colors found in the textiles. Therefor, natural dyes aren’t really used even though they are better for the environment. But specifically in France there is a treatment centre which specializes in this. Their dyeing process includes: bulk dye, color matching, and color testing.


What are some of the conservation methods?
  • Paints (free hand treatment) which provide more freedom when working with
  • Support stitching -all stitching is conservation stitches for stabilisation and support mainly
  • It is important to keep note of what you’re doing and how it worked and what materials you used so it can be passed on to others.


Pasta in little nests to show how more 3D textile samples can be preserved.

How are the items preserved?
  • Environmental control—helps extend life of textile based objects
  • Pest management
  • Humidity control
  • Temperature & light control
  • Making sure dust is not in contact with the object(s)
  • Gloves and smaller textiles are kept in drawers




Quick photographs I took while in the research centre, purely because the colour palettes in these compositions intrigued me. 

That was my lovely adventure to the Centre for Textile Conservation:) You can check out their website here for more information.

Overall, although it was an interesting trip and I really found it intriguing, I don’t think the conservation path is for me. I definitely prefer designing and creating my own work although I respect the hardwork that goes into the process.

Okay this blog post was intense to put together! I hope you enjoyed it, I need a long nap now. If you want to see how I took this further, I spoke to my boss who runs a vintage shop on how she would try and preserve my own work!

2 thoughts on “GLASGOW FIELDWORK TRIP (03/02/20)

  1. Lots of excellent photos documenting your trip, it sounds like there was a lot of information being shared. I liked that you took time to bullet point all the different pieces of information being shared on the day, and yes, I can imagine it must have been hard going making sure you had collected all that information. Kudos to you!
    What would make this blog post top notch however is some more personal thoughts from you. You obviously learned a lot on the day, so how does this relate to your personal practice? What are your personal opinions on the things you learned? Did it all fit your expectations. Was there anything you didn’t agree with? What about the things you are learning in class, how does this fit with what you learned, how do you tie this all together into one?
    Using your blog just to bullet point (or as a note taking device) is a great way to make sure you capture information, but taking that step further and also making it a place for thought and reflection would make this process much more enjoyable, less arduous and help you to collate your learning on what you are thinking, seeing, reading and doing. 😊
    Well done for jumping in with both feet and for giving us a really colorful and interesting view into your day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *