Ask the Conservator

Post your questions about your family treasure. Want to know the best way to store a historical object? Need advice about how to display a contemporary hanging? Would you like to schedule a Lecture and/or a Workshop?  I’ll answer as quickly as I can.

18 comments on “Ask the Conservator

  1. Claudia Klaus

    I was just given an old white woven coverlet that has been in our family for generations. I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know it was originally a wedding present received in 1899. I’m assuming its jacquard and probably machine woven, but don’t know if there is a way to tell for sure.
    It seems to be in fairly good shape, no worn spots that I see, but it has yellowed and there are some brown stains. I have no idea how to go about cleaning it, or if I should even try.
    I’d like to display it, but don’t want to cause any further damage to it.
    Any suggestions? Do you take on projects like this or could you direct me towards some one that does? I appreciate the help.

  2. Amy Hansen

    Hello. My mother’s wedding dress was hand-made in the 1960s and I was wondering if it would be worth restoring and preserving. Do these hold any value other than sentimental?


  3. Carolyn Von Der Ahe


    I have a client who has a very large Japanese silk screen that has been in the family for generations which is in need of restoration. We believe the screen dates from the late 18th century to early 19th century.

    I would appreciate if you might respond whether you do this type of restoration and could analyze the screen and provide a quote, or refer us to another accredited art restoration location.

    Pictures of the screen can also be provided.

    All the best,

    Carolyn Von Der Ahe

  4. Karen Muhlin

    Hi Meg,
    I had tried to contact you via the email I had on file regarding the AATCC California section petiton and meeting on 9/29. Please let me know the best way to contact you as my emails to you have been bouncing back.

  5. Julie Tsuchiya

    I have the top of a bonnet girl quilt using fabric from my mother’s dresses, that my grandmother started in the 1930-40’s. She also embroidered flowers and ribbons on each bonnet.
    I’d like to finish it off with batting and a backing but should I wash it first? If so with what and how? There are some spots. I am concerned about washing it because I don’t know if the embroidery thread or if the main fabrics have ever been washed previously. Thank you for any information.
    Regards, Julie Tsuchiya

  6. Doris Hamel

    I have a queen size quilt that is hand sewn. It is “Trip around the World.”
    It has some loose stitching, but all the original fabric is still attached.
    I was told that is was from the 1930s. How do I find out the true
    value and how should I try to repair the stitching.
    Any help you can advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Roy Hoyer

    I have a needlepoint sampler that belongs to an 80 year old friend, who’s grandmother made sometime in the 1940’s. This sample needs cleaning. It has water stains, and blotchy spots here and there. It is a deeply cherished picture, and this woman fears destroying the original paper backing. She does agree it needs cleaning, and would like to consider glass to cover to preserve it. Could we meet with you along with this picture in Sonoma to see if this idea is feasible and safe to do. We also would like an estimated cost of this service. We thank you kindly in advance.
    Roy Hoyer

  8. Pat deangelis

    I have a family christening gown that is approx 95 years old. Some of the lace has ripped and I would like to have it repaired. Any suggestions
    Pat DeAngelis
    Woodinville WA

  9. annemarie fortier

    Hi, Atthowe Fine Art suggested you might be able to help me hang a tapestry. It measures 83″X 53″ and only weighs 3 pounds. I would like it hung neat, meaning no hardware showing. But I do not want it framed. I’d be happy to send a photograph. It’s a blanket or coverlet from Uzbekistan. Not particularly valuable, but beautiful and a good size for my empty bedroom wall. It appears new, or perhaps vintage. Certainly not antique.
    I live in San Francisco, but would be happy to come to Petaluma sometime to meet with you, if you you are interested.
    It’s nice to see someone doing this kind of work. I’ve asked around for a few years, but have not had much luck find anyone who works with textiles.
    Happy to chat on the phone anytime.
    Thank you in advance for your consideration.
    Best Regards,
    Annemarie Fortier

  10. Kip Vanderbilt

    Dear Ms. Geiss-Mooney, I have a mid 1800 Whole Cloth white bridal trapunto quilt which had been restored and wrapped by the Textile Conservation Workshop in NY nine years ago. It had been in storage and when I recently unwrapped it, the white work is now a light tobacco colored ( I can send photos). I have removed it from the acid free paper and box to breath but I believe it will need to be cleaned. Is this something you do or can you refer me to someone who may be able to help me. I have relocated to SF and thought to find someone here who could do the work.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Kip Vanderbilt

  11. Nancy Quinn

    I have an heirloom quilt that was exposed to very tropical climate for an extended period of time and is showing signs of corrosion, is there anything to be done? This quilt means a lot to me…

  12. Colin Adams

    I have a 160 year old needle point/embroidery sampler made by my Great Grandmother in 1856. It has been in the family ever since and stored in who knows a number of manners. There is some damage, i.e.. water & light.

    This is not a museum quality item but it has tremendous sentimental value to our family and we don’t want to do any thing that will cause additional damage.

    I am looking for a professional textile restoration service to assess the sampler and advise me of the next steps.

  13. Cathy Harrington

    Hi Margaret~
    We are wondering if by chance you have any recommendations for us on who to bring a few decades old batik matted on an internal frame for cleaning. It has yellowed from cigarette smoke and time. It was my mother’s and I’d love to have it cleaned and maybe reframed but fearful of the wrong person ruining it or ripping it. We live near Santa Cruz and San Jose (SC Mountains). Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Cathy

  14. Sarah Preston

    Hello, my name is Sarah and I have been holding onto a dress which was found in a thrift shop dresser years ago. The dress is a flapper style dress, tank top type arms, fairly straight body shape, and it lands above knee length. It is fully sequined in creamy yellow sequin with a light pink iridescence. There are rows of tassels made from individual strands of tiny white beads. It’s beautiful. The fabric is quite delicate, or at least the threading which holds the sequins/beads is. Some threads will break if touched. The inner fabric is stained and discolored, it looks old. I would love to display this dress and preserve it as best as possible. I was thinking of putting it in some type of shadow box on the wall or hanging it on the back of the door in my bedroom. I’m wondering how I can preserve it and if there is a way to safely clean the discolored fabric. I would love to send you pictures if you’d like. Thank you for your time.

  15. Kenneth Cross

    Hi Margaret,
    My name is Ken Cross. I just inherited another of my Grandmothers quilts. This is one of her first quilts possibly made in the mid forties. I would love to get your opinion about restoring it as best we can so that I may be a able to use it for occasional guest visits.

  16. Kacia Brockman

    We would like to know if you would be interested in a cleaning/restoration project. We recently inherited a 53″x49″ 4-panel Chinese screen. It consists of 4 silk panels, each sandwiched between 2 panes of glass and framed in a rosewood panel. The 4 framed panels are connected together with hinges to form a folding screen. The screen was damaged in shipping. Prior to shipping, the silk was already aged, faded, and stained. During shipping, the silk was cut in several places by broken glass and torn along seams when the silk was crumpled.

    The screen is circa 1900, and was appraised at $4,500 in 1999. Our goal is to repair the textiles sufficiently to reframe them in the screen and display it in our home. We are not looking for museum-quality restoration.

    Please let us know if you are interested in talking further about this project. If so, I can send photos if you provide an email address. If not, can you refer us to any other textile restorers that might be able to help?

    Thank you,
    Kacia and Clark Brockman
    San Mateo, CA

  17. Drew J. Schweitzer

    Dear, Ms. Mooney,
    We are Catholic Health Services, Inc. of the Archdiocese of Miami (Florida). We have many antiques at multiple locations throughout Catholic Health Services organization which we would like to have appraised, restored as recommended, and insured. Within that grouping, there is a very large ancient tapestry which will require of some restoration. We need your recommendation for both a conservator and an appraiser as soon as practical.
    Most Sincerely,

    Drew J. Schweitzer
    Manager-Major Construction Projects
    Catholic Health Services, Inc.

  18. Ashli Darrach

    Hello Ms Mooney,

    I commend you on your expertise in this field. You have quite the experience and I appreciate taking the time to educate others. I am working on a project for my husband. He was given his Great Great Grandfathers’ WWI Dress blues jacket and Doughboy Jacket. They are both in great condition. The Doughboy Jacket is a little stiff however. I would like to put them in a shadow box and I am not sure what the best way to do it is. Some concerns and questions I have are: to pin or use a muslin cushioned hanger, is there a red material I can line the back with, is it alright to preserve without cleaning it (my husband loves the idea of it having original marks, dirt and stains from 100 years ago. What is the commission for your help? Thank you for your time!

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