When handling antique textiles…

  • Your hands should be freshly washed and clean, free of lotions or other substances which might effect the textiles.
  • Or, you can wear white cotton archival gloves, which keep the oils of your skin safely away from delicate materials. However, this is not always considered the ideal practice, as wearing gloves can make the hands and fingers somewhat clumsier, and can actually result in rougher handling of textiles. Nevertheless, in the case of certain materials, gloves should always be worn; when handling antique garments with sequins, for instance, gloves should be worn, because sequins were often made of gelatin, which will acquire fingerprint marks if touched. (Source: Minnesota Historical Society Video)
  • You should wear clothing that will not catch on the bits and pieces of antique garments, and you should not wear jewelry. Roll up sleeves and avoid bulky clothing.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke near textiles. Don’t drink food, drinks, or staining substances such as felt-tip pens near textiles.
  • Assume that everything is fragile! Support each textile carefully while moving and handling it, and always handle it gently. Avoid excessive handling, and make sure that anyone you allow to handle the antique textiles in your collection or your museum’s collection can be reasonably relied upon to be careful and gentle.

Next in the section on Textile Conservation Basics: Cleaning Antique Textiles

HomeIndexTextile Conservation Basics


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