Restoration-Conservation workshop and traditional cleaning of ancient and contemporary tapestries


When I am asked to restore a tapestry, my first instinct is to think about its future.
Restore it?
Yes, but for what?
To pass on a heritage in good condition, rich in history?
Of course, but still?
Keep the original materials as much as possible or restore the designs and colors identically?
In our profession, nothing is so categorical. It is therefore necessary to carry out this reflection with the owner of the tapestry, and to define together what will best serve it.
Before making a choice, I note the damage suffered: cracked relays, faded colors, previous restorations more or less well done, dirty wools, broken chains, cooked silks, original or added edges, holes, etc...
This observation informs me about the history of the tapestry and allows me to know if the damage caused is irreversible or if it can be stopped and repaired.

Restoration-Conservation And Cleaning Workshop Of Ancient And Contemporary Tapestries


This study completed, we can proceed to the first step: cleaning.
First, the tapestry (sewn and held in a tulle wrap to preserve the wools, silks and original work as much as possible) is dusted. Then it is washed flat and by hand in a bath of softened water. Several rinses will allow the elimination of dirt but also soap. Then comes the drying which is done at low temperature to avoid any action of the fibers.
Back in the workshop, the tapestry mounted on a loom, we can finally proceed to the second stage: the choice of the colors of the wools and silks that we will use to reconstitute the missing weft. Playing a decisive role in the restoration, this selection will be made respecting the original threshing and designs.
The missing colors are ordered and specially dyed in Felletin, in Creuse. The warp threads that will be retained are in twisted cotton, of great solidity, and sometimes dyed, in order to once again respect the original colors.

The third stage, the actual restoration, is about to begin. We are now following the previously established work plan, which will include, depending on the choices of intervention adopted, the systematic conservation of the original weave, the consolidation by spaced weaving points in the very damaged parts and the reconstitution of the weft by light or tight transplants. This plan also includes the essential rechaining of chains that have disappeared or are too damaged. At the same time, the belay seams will be reinforced, in order to preserve the tapestry against sagging caused by light or non-existent belays, this meticulous restoration work entrusted to expert hands will last for months. Once finished, it will be necessary to double the tapestry again by "crisscrossing" it by hand, with a decanted canvas lining in linen and cotton. So will it be
Equipped with an additional support and protected from the wall.
To explain this work, the foreman will have compiled, throughout the restoration, a photo file recounting his various episodes better than words. This file is then given to the owner of the tapestry.

Atelier de la Restauration-Conservation et Nettoyage des tapisseries anciennes et contemporaines

Atelier Parisien - Nettoyage traditionnel Tapisserie & Tapis ancienne et contemporaine