Conservation in Miniature – Part Two

And now for Part Two of our Conservation In Miniature blog post, showing how we put together a replica dolls’ house room filled with conservation tools and equipment as part of an exhibition in the Museum Room. The miniature room has now been created, and in this post we’re installing it. (If you really can’t wait to see what the finished conservation in miniature dolls’ house looks like, scroll down to the end of the blog post and click on the image to enlarge it).

Conservation equipment put out ready to install in the dolls’ house. See the tissue paper hats (used to keep dust and dirt off ceramics and other small objects over the winter season) and the miniature vacuum cleaner!

Curtains and a window have been added to the display box – notice the double blinds which have been made. There is a cream sun-blind (used when the house is open and full sunlight is shining in to help prevent fading) and the dark green blind, which completely blocks out sunlight

Furniture is set out very carefully. See the miniature stepladders, which we use to dust high up picture frames and reach the tops of curtains and four-poster beds

The conservation in miniature dolls’ house all set up and in position. Just need to clear away those empty boxes!

A close-up of some of the detail in the dolls’ house – foam book rests, felt mats and tissue paper hats with a roll of tissue paper and scissors ready to be used

I also designed and wrote interpretation for the exhibition, so that visitors can read about what we aimed to show with the conservation in miniature section of the exhibition

And here it is, finished and in one of the exhibition cases in the Museum Room at Nostell. On the bottom shelf we explain about the nine agents of deterioration that conservation assistants battle against (more on those in future blog posts), the top shelf holds a display of different conservation equipment, with explanations of their uses, and the middle shelf is where the Conservation In Miniature dolls’ house is.

The finished creation…

Completed dolls’ house, but one thing is missing…what is it? (Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)

I needed to add one more item to the far right hand corner of our miniature dolls’ house room to complete it, can you guess what it is? 

It’s a dust cover! I spent a few hours carefully creating a template and sewing together a miniature dust cover for the grandfather clock in the corner. All large objects at Nostell have their own personal dust cover made to measure (by our wonderful volunteers) which covers them up during the winter closed period and prevents them getting dusty and dirty.

And there we go – one completed Conservation In Miniature dolls’ house. We hope that it inspires you to come to Nostell and take a look at the exhibition, or perhaps have a go at making one yourselves!

Ellie

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Spotlight on: Pianos and Curtains

In the Top Hall we have a walnut concert grand piano by Erard, dated 1865. Visitors are welcome to play it when they come to Nostell Priory – so come along and tinkle the ivories!

Today it was the piano’s turn to get a thorough cleaning and inspection, as it is too large to do on a day-to-basis when the house is open to visitors. Here’s a photo account of how it was done:

Brush vaccing the keys – it was too hard to resist playing a melody, so I did!

Checking inside the piano for mould, pests, dust etc – the lid is surprisingly heavy!

Cleaning the pedals

An unusual angle – examining underneath the piano for rust

It’s very dusty under here! As cleaning under the piano will take a long time to do properly, we are leaving it during the winter clean and will do it in front of visitors as part of our ‘Conservation In Action’ programme for 2012.

Even the piano stool gets a turn

All finished! Ready to come out from under the dust cover when we open to the public in March

We also made a start on the Breakfast Room today, and our spotlight here is one of a pair of bright yellow brocade curtains. The curtains are replicas, replacing the originals which were destroyed in Nostell’s great fire in 1980. Most of the furniture managed to be saved, but the curtains and wallpaper needed to be replaced. Despite not being original to the collection, the curtains receive the same care and attention as every other object at Nostell. Here’s how we clean the curtains:

As not all of the curtains are cleaned every year, Angie takes a dust sample. A thin piece of muslin is placed over the nozzle of the vacuum to see what the dust level is like on the curtain.

The dust sample – there’s a fair amount of dust on it so this curtain will be cleaned. You can see the strand of red thread – this is a piece from a visitor’s clothing which has lodged itself high up in the curtain folds, and shows why it is important to dust and clean regularly.

Lower away, Angie!

The curtain fully down. Once cleaned, it will stay this way for four weeks to let it rest. Then we’ll put it up and bring down the other one to repeat the process!

When seen up close, the brocade patterns are really beautiful

The back of the curtains are white in colour – after all, if you are inside you only want to see the stunning colours and patterns, and if the pattern was on both sides the side facing the window would quickly fade.

Carefully vacuuming the curtain

This was the first of our ‘spotlight’ blog posts, focusing on one or two items in detail. As we move around Nostell during the winter clean, we hope to post more ‘spotlights’ so that you can see how we care for different types of objects in the collection. If there’s anything that you would really like to see on the blog (whether it’s textiles, ceramics, metals or anything else related to Nostell Priory) then please get in touch! (See our ‘Contact Us’ page for details).

Ellie