Learning some textile conservation

Interns – Chetna, Subhashini, Keerat and Lovely



As a team of Heritage Preservation Atelier (HPA) we went to Dada Bhagwan Foundation at Adalaj in district Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Here we learnt and helped in managing and conserving textile collection of Dada ji in the supervision of senior textile conservator from HPA.

The causes for decay in textiles can be because of :
1) Intrinsic factors, i.e.  chemistry and weave of the fabric, dyes etc used

2) Environmental factors:  Light, temperature, RH, pollutants etc

3) Biological factors : Micro-organisms, insects etc.

Training to be a textile conservator is a full-time fascinating commitment.
We began our learning programme concerning objects of the spiritual leader of Dada Bhagwan Foundation. We got the privilege of learning various methods and techniques for conserving the textiles of Late. Shree Dada Bhagwan.
This foundation is a spiritual house for people, leading the way to become self-reliant through spiritual science.

The training began with day 1 in the lab set up in the business park of Amba Township. This lab was specific developed to do the preservation and conservation of the foundation’s collection under the guidance of Varsha Jain ji and conservator Namita Jaspal.


We started the day studying the small objects to be cleaned which included pair of socks, handkerchiefs, knee caps, wrist band and hand gloves. Our mentor, Namita Jaspal, helped us understand the condition assessment and methodology to be followed.


  • Documenting the objects which included photography and condition assessment.IMG-20170804-WA0016[1]

    Cleaning, Stain removal and Dis-infestation

  • Placing the objects in the washing tray with the soap solution of Sodium lauryl sulphate, de-ionized water.
    {To prepare the SLS soap solution, mix SLS with deionized water}IMG-20170804-WA0009
  • Objects should be washed with the soap solution gently and carefully.IMG-20170730-WA0003[1]
  • After washing, the objects were placed on blotter paper for soaking purpose.IMG-20170804-WA0027
  • Lastly, it was left to dry.

The day ended also with learning the procedure of packaging boxes of textiles for safe storage.


Next, we started the training with the treatment of white textile which was observed to have brown stains and possible fungal growth. The treatment of a particular object depends upon the current condition as well as physical and chemical properties of the same. Keeping that in mind, we were introduced to cleaning solution and a bleaching solution also.

The solutions  we learnt to prepare are listed below:-

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate Solution
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Solution (Bleaching Solution)
  • Disinfecting Solution

Preparation of Hydrogen Peroxide Solution (for 100 gm of Textile)


The solution is prepared as per the weight of the textile being treated.


Chemicals: Sodium Hydroxide (5gm), Sodium Carbonate(5gm), Sodium Metasilicate (20gm), Hydrogen Peroxide (30%)(50ml), Deionised Water(100ml).

Apparatus: Borosilicate Beaker, Glass Rod, Petridish, Weighing Scale.

Working/Mechanism: Reagent grade hydrogen peroxide is preferred; commercial hydrogen peroxide is acidic and usually too strong for use as a conservation bleach; it must be diluted and alkali added to increase the pH and obtain the concentration of HOO- which is sufficient to produce the desired bleaching effect; buffers may be added to the bleach solution in order to control the pH and stabilizers should be added to guard against the evolution of oxygen gas.

Once activated, hydrogen peroxide disintegrates to give a bleaching action. This method is most favourable as it is mild and releases water as a by-product which is harmless to the textile being treated. By adding Sodium Hydroxide and Sodium Carbonate in our bleaching solution we aim to accelerate the rate of decomposition of hydrogen peroxide which is rather slow. Addition of NaOH and Na2CO3 also prevents the fall of of pH to acidic conditions.


Rolling of Big Textile (Dhoti)


The main objective of this process is to roll the textile, which is too long to be stored flat. Materials that are supposed to be use while rolling are listed below:-

  1. Conservation Grade Tube (Bigger circumference would be precise as lesser the textile will be rolled better the condition will remain for future).
  2. Acid Free Tissue


Preparation of Adhesive- (Hydroxy propyl Cellulose)

Chemicals – Hydroxypropyl Cellulose, Deionised water.

Apparatus – Measuring cylinder, digital weighing machine, Borosilicate Beaker, Glass Rod.

Working adhesive film:- Hydroxy propyl  cellulose (HPC) is a derivative of cellulose with both water solubility and organic solubility. It is used as an adhesive and consolidant.

Preparing the adhesive film


  • The HPC solution we made was used as adhesive for mending purpose of textile.
  • We started the procedure by taking a  part of crepeline (fabric) and  placing it on a Mylar sheet.
  • With the help of a brush, HPC solution is evenly applied on the crepeline. Then, the fabric is supposed to be left to dry for sometime.
  • After few hours, crepeline is detatched from the underlying mylar.
  • Glossy Film appears on the fabric. Then, the fabric is cut according to the shred part of the textile and is supposed to be placed over it.
  • Next, we spray the solution of Ethanol water to activate the action of adhesive.
  • Finally, with the help of spatula, the fabric is pressed gently to stick firmly and lastly, it is left to dry.IMG-20170804-WA0120IMG-20170804-WA0061


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