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Thursday, June 1 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Textiles) Deconstructed: Restoring the intent and integrity of a rare Kainai squirrel-lined baby quilt

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Over 100 years old, a Kainai First Nation baby quilt in the Royal Alberta Museum collection was unique in the way that it was composed with a decorative quilted side and a thermal fur side for warmth. The cotton quilted side was made up of vertical bands – some continuous and some formed of patchwork squares, while the thermal side was made from a series of gopher furs (Richardson Ground squirrels) attached to a flour sack ("Cardston, Alberta” is still visible). Over the years the quilt suffered from major rodent and moth damage, plus overall soiling and distortion. After colourfastness testing, it was determined that it could be safely wet-cleaned but the layers needed to be separated. Not an easy decision, weighing the pros and cons, and consultation with the curator, it was decided that the benefits of wet-cleaning outweighed the separation of the layers and possible change in reassembly. The quilt top and cloth to which the furs were attached were all separated and wet-cleaned. The fur skins humidified and flattened then secured to a nylon tulle backing for support and unification of the skin layer allowing it to be reattached to the flour sacking. Stabilization of the textile completed the treatment, filling in the losses, allowing the visitor to view the quilt as a whole and to appreciate it for what it was. In the end the baby quilt is more stable, its appearance improved, its life span increased, making it more accessible for generations to come.

avatar for Shirley Ellis

Shirley Ellis

Textile Conservator, Royal Alberta Museum
Shirley Ellis has a conservation specialization in textiles. She received a Master of Art Conservation degree from Queen's University and has undergraduate training in textiles from the University of Alberta. Shirley is currently working at the Royal Alberta Museum, assisting with... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 10:00am - 10:30am CDT
Crystal Ballroom C Lobby Level, West Tower