Technical examination

Upholstered objects are multi-media pieces in which several trade techniques may be represented. The skills of examination are rarely embodied in one individual; successful collaboration between curators, upholsterers, conservation scientists and conservators of upholstery, textiles, furniture, leather and plastics is needed. A basic level of knowledge in each area of expertise would provide a sound vocabulary allowing for informed discussions with these specialists and an understanding of published material and research.

Simple analytical techniques include:

  • Examination of fabrics and thread structures
  • Microscopic examination to identify fibres, fillings and pigments
  • Burning tests for fibre and plastic identification
  • Wet chemical spot tests for identification of metals and leather tannins
  • Solubility tests for identification of fibres and dyes
  • Staining tests for the identification of fibres, dyes, dressings and adhesives.

More complex analytical techniques include:

  • Thin layer chromatography to identify dye-stuffs
  • Gas chromatography to identify natural finishes and adhesives
  • Infra red spectroscopy (including Fourier Transform Infra Red) to identify synthetic and semi-synthetic finishes, adhesives and fillings
  • Energy dispersive X-radiography for the identification of metals in threads, finishes and hardware.

The application of these techniques to specific materials is further discussed below. Details of the techniques are provided by Sibilia (1996).

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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