Saturday, April 28, 2007

Textile Research - Kick It Up A Notch 

So, you love textiles. You adore weaving them, spinning fibers, embroidering on them. You yearn to care for them, to know their history, to try new techniques.

You've bought or borrowed every book or commercially available magazine about textiles. You know all the photographs and can quote authors' opinions at the drop of a hat.

But you yearn to kick your textile research up a notch. You want to breathe the rarified atmosphere of the academic, the professional conservator, the thread guru at the top of the cultural mountain.

Want a good way to get a toe in the door of that special world? Then give The Getty Conservation Institute a try.

A good place to start research is the Institute's Abstracts of International Conservation literature. AATA Online is a comprehensive database of over 100,000 abstracts of literature related to the preservation and conservation of material cultural heritage. An abstract of an article or book or thesis gives you a taste of the contents of the publication in a short, readable paragraph. Abstracts help a researcher know if the publication is likely to contain information useful to them and lets you narrow down your search so you don't have to flounder about reading "everything" that might be spot on when it comes to the area of your interest.

AATA Online is user friendly. You do need to register (free of charge) but the only information that is strictly required is an e-mail address. Using a search term "cleaning textiles" I obtained a list of 444 abstracts. "Mending textiles" yielded 16 abstracts including a thesis on a subject near and dear to my heart -- 17th century gold and silk knitted jackets.

A search for "metallic threads" brought up 188 abstracts including one that certainly has my interest "Gold textiles from a Roman burial at Munigua".

The site also gives advice on obtaining copies of the full text publications abstracted. Often your local library can help with ILL services. Also a university or museum library may prove a good resource.

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