Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vacuuming Roundup

So what have I been vacuuming recently?

  • Female clown costume from 1950s children's TV program (jacket and hat only- harem pants still in storage and not in need of cleaning)
  • WWII flight suit. Apparently fighter pilots had to have the courage of men and the bodies of boys. It seemed to be about the right size for an Olsen twin.
  • polar fleece. (Yes, the bust is a part of history now!)

I also recently took a hydroplane racing jumpsuit home to wash. The thing is 100% nylon and super durable, but a dry cleaner told us that the chemicals they use could destroy the elastic on the wrists and ankles. So without a basin large enough at work, I decided to wash it in my bathtub.

The act of immersing a museum object in water is always a little scary. No matter how recently made it is, what it is made of, or how many tests for colorfastness I've done, there is always that little fear that all the dyes will bleed out and the whole thing will just disintegrate in my hands. As irrational as that fear is, I still had to take a deep breath before dunking it under water. In this case, I could at least remind myself that hydroplane racing is a sport that happens on water, and that it would be pretty bad design to make the uniform water-soluble.

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