Sunday, January 24, 2021

Preserving your Quilts (suggestions from Karen Powers)

 In my past life as a quilt appraiser, I often saw stored textiles with permanent stains resulting from long term contact with wood or wood products. The acid in wood products can seep into quilts stored in wooden chests or cardboard boxes creating brown stains.
When cleaning out my own grandmother’s home, I found four quilts on a shelf in a bedroom closet. I was so excited! The quilt on top, nestled into the next quilt was in the best condition. But edges of the other three quilts where they had come in contact with the closet walls were brown with wood acid stains, and the bottom surface of the folded quilt that rested on the shelf was very discolored and heavily stained.
Since wood and wood products leech acid, how can you protect your wall hanging when supporting it with a wooden dowel or or other type of wooden hanger?
Many people seal wood with common sealers such as polyurethane or shellac. Either would be a fine choice.
But when fashioning a hanger, I often use a simpler solution. When I make the hanging sleeve, I usually make it 1-2” shorter than the width of the project, and use a wooden dowel just a bit longer than the sleeve so it peeks out of the sleeve on either side. This way the wooden rod doesn’t show from the front when the project is hung.
If you’re using this method where the wooden rod won’t be visible when hung, the easiest way to prevent wood acid from staining your project is to cover the rod with aluminum foil.
Aluminum foil, you say? How weird is that But, many serious quilt collectors store their quilts in regular cardboard boxes lined with aluminum foil to prevent the wood acid in the cardboard from leeching into the stored quilt. Much cheaper than purchasing the museum quality archival boxes!

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