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Thursday, May 16 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Textiles) Wild Orchids For Textile Conservation – Considerations On Sustainability

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Several studies around orchid mucilage as an alternative for consolidation treatments on fibres and textiles have been carried out throughout the last decade. Lorena Román, Co-ordinator of the Seminar-Workshop on Textile Conservation at the National School of Conservation and Museum Studies “Manuel del Castillo Negrete”, has presented different papers and treatments using this mucilage. She first started studying this material when working on a feather mosaic from the mid-16th century. On her most recent publication, Román mentions that the Laelia autumnalis orchid is a good option for textile conservation: besides its good qualities as an adhesive, it grows relatively easily around Mexico City. She also mentions three other species that are also suitable as adhesives, but these are harder to find. Generally speaking, all orchids employed for their mucilage are hard to find: they need very particular levels of humidity and temperature for their correct development and it takes too long for them to grow. All these factors have limited the use of these species at the Conservation Lab at the Textile Museum of Oaxaca (MTO), where the climatic conditions are so different to those in Mexico City, as well as to those from the forests where orchids thrive. Our weather has a lower relative humidity, higher temperatures, and we have more annual hours of a very intense sunlight. Because of these issues, Alejandro de Ávila – Director of the Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca (JEO) and Advisor/Curator at the MTO – suggested to explore the behaviour of the mucilage of an endemic orchid that is extremely resistant to the heat, the sunlight, and the dryness of our climate. On top of that, this orchid grows randomly at the JEO, making it readily available. After this suggestion, I have been working on different tests of the adhesive power of this mucilage, both using it in a pure solution with nothing but water, as well as combined with methyl-cellulose. These tests have been applied on samples of fabrics made out of silk, cotton, and wool. The adhesive properties are quite good when used alone, however, it is necessary to mix it with methyl-cellulose to diminish the colour of the mucilage. The final effect of the adhesive is a low-lustre film, unlike the final appearance of the film that results from a solution that only uses methyl-cellulose. This experience shows the importance of interdisciplinary work, for the comments of de Ávila from a biological perspective have been fundamental in the process of finding viable and sustainable options in the city of Oaxaca.


Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano

Director, Museo Textil de Oaxaca
I got my degree in Conservation of Cultural Artifacts by the National School of Conservation and Museum Studies "Manuel del Castillo Negrete", from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, in Mexico City. From 2008 to 2012, I worked as Head of Conservation and Collections... Read More →

Thursday May 16, 2019 9:30am - 10:00am EDT
Oneida/Penobscot Rooms Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Textiles