Playing with Color: Painting Silk

Mom has always been the color goddess. She just has a sense about those things. That’s why I was a little apprehensive trying my hand at silk painting, but with a little help I’m addicted. It wasn’t easy, but it was so much fun to see color combinations come to life on the silk, and worth the time it took for the amazing results. Here’s a little photo diary of the process:

hand-painted silk
The dye
Painting Silk
A pink base
Painting Silk
Adding color
Painting Silk
Painting

Painting Silk
Flower garden inspiration
Painting Silk
A microwave dedicated to dying

Painting Silk
Rinsing the silk
Painting Silk
Final products

Painting Silk

An Interview with Tina Kane and her work on the Burgos Tapestry Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Recently a customer (thank you!) pointed us to an amazing YouTube video. It is called “The Burgos Tapestry: A Study in Conservation” and chronicles the restoration of Christ Is Born as Man’s Redeemer by the Textile Restoration Team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. According to the video, the tapestry was fourth in a series of tapestries called The Story of The Redemption of Man.  The project was started by A. Alice Blohm, Jane Hutchinson, and Nobuko Kajitani who was the Head of the Department of Textile Conservation at the Met in 1973.

Burgos Tapestry Project

It turns out that Mirrix Looms were used in the restoration process (see 4:35 and 9:33 in the video). We contacted Tina Kane, who joined the restoration in 1978, and she agreed to do an email interview.

Burgos Tapestry Project

Name/Website/Any contact information you’d like to share:

For a description of the Burgos Tapestry project please see:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf3usSyHVXs.  For my private business, see: http://textileconservator.pair.com/  

When we completed the Burgos tapestry restoration the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a three day tapestry conservation symposium which is on the Metropolitan YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoxyJBV3M30

For anyone interested in tapestry conservation this is a discussion that considers the relative values of conservation, or stabilizing, and restoration.  Also discussed are various methods of support, installation, display, dye analysis, and cleaning, among other topics.

Anything you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I retired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010 after completing the Burgos Tapestry project and now manage an independent conservation business in upstate New York, which I have run since 1973.  I became extremely interested in all aspects of tapestry as a result of working at the Met.  I team-taught a course on Medieval tapestry and narrative at Vassar College for a number of years, and  also published a book: The Troyes Mémoire: The Making of a Medieval Tapestry (Boydell Press, 2010) which discusses how tapestries were made in the middle ages, and how they were designed.  For more on that, see:  http://www.americantapestryalliance.org/Members/Feature/FeatureKaneT/KaneT_Memoire.html

Tell us a little about The Burgos Tapestry project:

The Burgos tapestry project was one of the first major conservation projects undertaken by the newly formed (1974)  Textile Conservation Department at the Metropolitan.  In a way, this project was seminal in that it required funding, space, equipment, materials, and a methodology of conservation. The Head of Textile Conservation, Nobuko Kajitani, used this project, among others, to elevate textile conservation to the level of a profession.  My generation of conservators learned through experience.  Now, conservators have excellent graduate programs where they receive formal training.

How did you get into tapestry restoration?

I was working towards a PhD in Comparative Literature at Berkeley in the 1960’s.  After I finished my MA I visited the Southwest and met a young Navajo (or Diné) student at St. Johns University in Santa Fe.  I had become curious about some Navajo rugs in a collection I had seen and the young man’s mother was one of the weavers of the Diné people.  He showed me how to set up a warp in the manner of his people.  It was a transformative day for me.  I had never encountered anything like that and it changed the course of my life.  I learned to weave tapestry, and also to restore, and was fortunate to join the Textile Conservation Department at the Metropolitan Museum in 1978.  The restoration of the Burgos tapestry was my main project.  As I mentioned before, I also managed a private textile conservation service while working at the Metropolitan part-time for thirty years.

How did you attach the new pieces of tapestry? 

My colleague A. Alice Blohm and I each wove 26′ of upper and lower borders for the Burgos tapestry. We attached the new borders by hand sewing them to the tapestry through a cotton support on the reverse. 

Why did you choose a Mirrix Loom to repair the borders?

We needed a small portable loom so we could work next to the tapestry at times, and also in our private studios.  The Mirrix looms were ideal for this project. They had a shed changing mechanism, and, because of the steel frame, we could maintain an even tension as we worked our way up the long warp. To see how we worked, and how we stored the newly woven border, please see the Burgos video on Metropolitan Museum YouTube (above).

Have Mirrix Looms been used to restore any other tapestries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art ?

Not to my knowledge; however, they are used as sample looms by restorers. 

Franc is Weaving

Franc the rescue cat is learning how to weave.
Franc was eight weeks when we adopted (rescued him).  The Vet thought he looked four weeks old because he was so tiny, so malnourished and, of course, infested with fleas and mites.  I don’t exactly know why I brought him home.  I doubted my intentions when I worried that I might be infecting my other cats with who knows what.  Notice how skillfully he maneuvers those razor sharp claws to get each weft thread in place!
Below photo is right after Franc’s first or second bath.

So welcome Franc, our Maine Coon Rescue who someday will surpass a pound and probably weigh more like twenty-five.  Enjoy that basket while you still can!

Two nights and one day in Vermont


We got two days off (well, really one and a half).  We spent two nights in Stowe Vermont.  Nice camp ground, sweet little shelter, no bugs.  This is all good.  And I had my beadwork with me.  So I said to Rick (husband, on right) let’s not hike Mansfield because something a little smaller would be better.  Okay, he says. So, we hiked Spruce Mountain instead.  Five and a half hours later we were done.  I mean done.  Mansfield would have taken five hours.  It’s steeper but a lot shorter.  But I should know my husband by now.  I should know that there is no such thing as a short hike.  Oh, and then he wanted to take a little paddle in the canoe (that would have been an hour long paddle full speed). Gotta leave some wake behind. But the sky had the good sense to fall in rain drops, so we nixed the canoe moment and headed home.  I did make an off-loom piece which I will post if I get the inspiration.  I left my Mirrix home.  Sometimes you just have to leave even your Mirrix behind.

Mirrix Looms