The silk flag to be treated was very old and hence had deteriorated a lot by intrinsic as well as extrinsic factors. It was shattering at the slightest handling. The major deteriorating factors have been:
- Silk being naturally susceptible to fast ageing, gets embrittled leading to splits and tears, and eventually a powdery and very friable fabric is left.
- Warp and Weft: Though at first look with unaided eye there was apparently no difference in warp and weft thickness and silk seems very smooth, but when we viewed the silk under higher magnification, the weight of warp and weft was quite different. Warp was quite heavy as compared to weft. Actually, weft was too fragile to bear any sort of load or pressure of even minutest handling. It could not even withstand the strong adhesive force of the adhesive used during previous restoration attempts.
- Embroidery was coming off .
Add-on problems for conservation treatment
- Generally, when the silk has tears and holes, it is given a lining or backing. But, in this particular case, the silk was already stitched over a thick fabric and hence, to provide that additional closer support it needs to be first taken off from the back fabric. This would not be an ideal suggestion in this case as the already shattering silk was not in a position to bear so much of handling.
- Many of the previous restoration attempts had just added on to the friable nature and damage to the fabric
(Removing the old frame and its board)
Most of the pins, stapling pins, thumb-pins etc were removed on-site with the help of owners. Only the flag with a few stapling pins still left on it was taken to the conservation lab.
Removing the old repairs (apart from pins)
Cleaning was carefully performed with de-ionized water and some mild organic solvents and low pressure vacuum suction.
Consolidation with the help of Klucel G film on crepline.