fabrics are often fragile and need special care. When a garment
is displayed in an exhibition, the pull of gravity can damage seams
or the fabric itself. If beads are sewn on the fabric, the damage
could be accelerated due to the weight of the beads. A person who
is especially trained to prevent such damage is a textile conservator.
The conservator's job is to repair and strengthen garments so they
can be displayed safely.
Textile conservation students at the University of Rhode Island
worked all summer to clean and stabilize the dresses, capes and
textiles for the Tirocchi exhibit. Many of the 1920s and 1930s fabrics
are beaded sheer silk chiffons that are no longer strong enough
to hold the weight of the beads without tearing. The students used
special techniques to attach strong fabrics underneath the weak
silk. They repaired damaged areas, checked for loose beads, and
wet cleaned soiled textiles. They also made slips of appropriate
style and color for many of the dresses. The following pictures
show some of the textile conservation work done on Tirocchi objects.