Conservation cleaning of a large silk christening shawl.
A family heirloom, this shawl has had generations of use and was required for another family christening. The large silk tuile or netting shawl was finely decorated with bobbin lace sprigs, but the material and appliqued decorations had become discoloured – the colour of ‘weak tea’ – and there was localised staining.
The shawl was carefully wet cleaned in de-ionised water using a pure natural soap, sequestering agent and buffer. The method brightened the colour but further improvements were made by bleaching the shawl in a solution of Sodium perborate with Boric acid (used to reduce the pH to make it more suitable for a historic textile). Staining was tackled using localised bleaching at a slightly higher pH. The shawl was rinsed and laid flat to dry.