THE USE OF THE VACUUM OR SUCTION TABLE IN TEXTILE

CONSERVATION
Maj Ringgaard
The National Museum of Denmark
Textile Conservation Department
Brede
DK-2800 Ln!"
Denmark
#"stra$t
%arious textile $onservation uses of va$uum or su$tion ta"les are des$ri"ed& su$h as
laminatin! 'eak textiles to support fa"ri$s& 'ashin! fra!ile and fu!itive $olour textiles&
stain and spot removal& drin! textiles& $rease and fold removal(
Ke'ords
Textiles& va$uum ta"le& su$tion ta"le& spot removal& $leanin!& $rease)fold removal
Introduction
The va$uum or su$tion ta"le toda is 'idel used in paintin! $onservation& "ut is still
not $ommon in textile $onservation la"oratories& althou!h it offers man different
possi"ilities in textile $onservation 'ork( *t $an "e used not onl to laminate support
fa"ri$s to fra!ile textiles & "ut also to fa$ilitate spot removal& to flatten or smooth
textiles +ironin!,& to speed up drin! pro$esses& to hold fra!mented textiles in position
durin! $onservation& and 'hen 'ashin! painted textiles or textiles 'ith fu!itive
$olours(
Lamination
The most $ommon use of the va$uum ta"le is for lamination treatments& e(!( the
adhesion of ver fra!ile silk textiles su$h as "anners to a support fa"ri$(
-ilk or polester $repeline& -ta"ilitex& is adhesive $oated on one side 'ith a 2-20.
solution of either polvinl a$etate& a$rli$ polmer or ethlene vinl a$etate $o-
polmer(
The va$uum ta"le is $overed 'ith smooth felt or soft filterpaper( The adhesive $oated
fa"ri$ is pla$ed 'ith the adhesive up'ards and $are is taken that the fa"ri$ is pla$ed
$orre$t( The fra!ile textile is $arefull pla$ed on top and ad/ustments of the fra!ment
and loose threads positions $an "e made( 0a$h se$tion is then se$ured& usin! !entle
fin!er pressure or a hand held spatula iron( The hot ta"le is $overed 'ith melinex
1polester foil2 and the su$tion s'it$hed on& and the temperature set at approx( 30 C(
The final adhesion is a$hieved " a $om"ination of the ne!ative pressure and the
elevated temperature(
Note4 the textile should "e surfa$e $leaned "efore treatment as adhesion is "etter to a non-dust
textile(
Wa!ing on a Vacuum " Suction Ta#$%
*f used in $om"ination 'ith a 'ater trap or a 'et va$uum $leaner it is possi"le to use
the su$tion ta"le to 'ash ver fra!ile flat textiles or painted textiles e(!( "anners 'here
there is a risk of paint $ra$kin! or loss& or even paint dissolvin! 'ith +normal,
'ashin! methods(
5hen 'ashin! on a su$tion ta"le the textile $an "e 'ashed in se$tions& thus preventin!
moisture from penetratin! into the painted areas& and avoidin! the paint loss that seems
to "e normal durin! the 'ashin! of "anners 16ates& 78892(
*f painted& printed or multi$olour textiles have $olours 'hi$h are not 700. 'ater
sta"le& the verti$al su$tion minimises the risk of $olour-"leedin! durin! 'ashin! and
drin!(
%er fra!ile textiles 'ith man splits or those 'here lar!e areas of the 'arp or 'eft are
missin! $an "e held se$urel in pla$e " the su$tion durin! $leanin!(
T!% &r%'aration (or Vacuum " Suction Ta#$% Wa!ing
#"sor"ent "lotters are pla$ed on the area to "e $overed " the textile& to help move the
moisture a'a from the textile( # polester non-'oven fa"ri$ is pla$ed on top& as a dr
"arrier "et'een the 'et "lotter and the textile( The su$tion ta"le is $overed 'ith
Melinex 1polesterfilm2( The outline of the textile is marked and the Melinex 'ithin the
marked outline is $ut a'a( The Melinex is fastened to the ta"le 'ith adhesive tape( #
pie$e of Melinex a "it "i!!er than the $ut out hole is pla$ed on it leavin! a small area
of the fi"er$loth visi"le( The textile is put on top and the su$tion is s'it$hed on&
resultin! in su$tion onl on the small area( B !entl pullin! the lose pie$e of Melinex
under the textile it is possi"le to enlar!e the area& and " $overin! 'ith another pie$e
of Melinex on top of the textile one $an 'ash the textile "it " "it& and keep the airflo'
more or less $onstant(
The 'ashin! solution $an "e applied " damp)'et spon!in! "ut "etter results are
o"tained " sprain!& and the most effe$tive is a $onstant fine mist of 'ashin!
solution and rinsin! 'ater(
*t is important that the speed of applin! the solution or 'ater mat$hes the rate of
removal(
There must "e a parallel flo' of air a$ross the under surfa$e of the su$tion ta"le
surfa$e for drin! the li:uid from the "lotter& or the evaporation 'ill onl take pla$e
from the textile surfa$e(
S'ort R%mo)a$
# similar te$hni:ue $an "e used for removin! spots from textiles& 'hi$h $annot or ma
not "e 'ashed(
The su$tion ta"le is prepared as des$ri"ed a"ove 'ith "lotters& non-'oven polester
and Melinex( # hole the si;e of the stain or spot is $ut out& and the textile is pla$ed
'ith the spot dire$tl over the hole in the Melinex( The prepared $leanin! solution is
spraed on& da""ed on 'ith a $otton s'a" or slo'l dripped from a pipette& as are the
rinsin! solutions(
#!ain it is important that the speed of applin! the solution mat$hes the removal rate
or the stain 'ill spread out'ards leavin! a tide -mark( 5hile 'orkin! one $an pull the
Melinex and the textile to!ether so that the hole is over a fresh dr pie$e of the "lotter(
<emem"er to use a pie$e of Melinex lar!e enou!h so all the textile apart from the area
under treatment is $overed& thus avoidin! an leaks around the ed!es(
# va$uum pro"e $an "e used instead of the su$tion ta"le& if the stain or spot is ver
small( The va$uum pro"e is pla$ed on the spot& the $leanin! and rinsin! solutions are
applied from the "a$k and are dra'n throu!h the fa"ri$& preventin! the solvent and the
dissolved stain from spreadin! into the surroundin! fa"ri$ 1Lennard& 78882(
*r+ing T%,ti$%
#ir drin! ver de!raded textiles $an result in hard & "rittle fi"res $aused " the
dama!in! effe$ts of surfa$e tension and $apillar a$tion of the li:uid 'ater& 'hi$h $an
result in shrinkin!& "ulkin!& and for $ellulosi$ textiles a "ro'nin! of the ed!es and the
thi$ker areas( The stainin! is $aused "oth " a $hemi$al modifi$ation in the air-
$ellulose-'ater interfa$e and " an a$$umulation of $hemi$als or pi!ments in the last-
to-dr areas( These dama!in! effe$ts $an "e redu$ed " drin! flat textiles on a $old
su$tion ta"le "e$ause the extra$tion of the moisture is verti$al to the textile-fi"res
1=ea$o$k& 78822(
The textile must "e $overed 'ith a fi"er$loth& a fine 'oven polester fa"ri$ or similar&
so that the textile does not a$t as a filter for the dust in the room 'ith the su$tion ta"le>
*f the textile is $overed 'ith Melinex the drin! pro$ess 'ill "e ver slo' unless the
su$tion ta"le has a "uilt-in transverse air flo'& as the drin! rate depends upon the
airflo' throu!h the textile(
Transverse airflo' movement on the su$tion ta"le allo's for faster drin! 'ith less air
$ontamination 1Thomsen& 788?2(
Cr%a% R%mo)a$ (rom T%,ti$%
The su$tion ta"le $an "e a useful tool for removin! $reases from textiles in a more
!entle 'a than ironin!( e(!( from heavil em"roidered lar!e linen $loth( *nstead of
usin! a small spatula iron to iron around the em"roider the follo'in! method $an "e
used(
The su$tion ta"le is $overed 'ith Melinex& a hole is $ut out in the shape of the textile&
and if the su$tion ta"le has "uilt in humidit $ontrol the humidifi$ation is set for 8@.(
The textile is pla$ed on the ta"le& $overed 'ith Melinex and the humidit s'it$hed on(
#fter some hours the textile 'ill have rea$hed the desired e:uili"rium& relaxed "ut not
'et( The Melinex is then removed from the textile in se$tions( The textile is smoothed
!entl into position 'ith small natural spon!es or usin! the fin!ertips& after 'hi$h the
textile is $overed 'ith Melinex and the su$tion is $onne$ted( The 'hole textile is
smoothed se$tion " se$tion( 5hen this pro$ess is $omplete the temperature $an "e
elevated sli!htl to A@ C and the textile dried (
*f the su$tion ta"le has no humidit $ontrol the humidifi$ation $an "e a$hieved "
$overin! the textile 'ith a damp $loth or "lotters(
The su$tion ta"le has also "een used for flattenin! textiles made of metal threads&
sntheti$ fi"res and =%C rain$oats& as the $om"ination of sli!htl elevated
temperatures and su$tion for lon!er periods is more su$$essful and less dama!in! than
usin! a hot iron(
Conc$uion
The va$uum or su$tion ta"le& 'ith or 'ithout the heat fun$tion& is a ver useful tool in
textile $onservation( The examples !iven are onl those appli$ations 'hi$h have "een
used " the author( Bther uses 'ill pro"a"l "e found for these ta"les as textiles
$onservators "e$ome more familiar 'ith them(
R%(%r%nc%
Lennard& C(& 7888( The Conservation of the Dnited Tin =late 5orkers -o$iet Banner
of 7827( *n The Conservator num"er 7A(
Maes& 6(& 788@( Die <eini!un! van Tapisserien na$h dem #erosolverfahren( 0in
5andteppi$h aus der <eihe +Die taten der #postel, na$h einem Karton van <affael(
<estauro %ol 707& No ?& 2?8-2@7(
Mi$halski& -(& 788?( The su$tion ta"le4 # =hsi$al Model( =reprints of the T'elfth
#nnual Meetin! of the #meri$an *nstitute for Conservation of Eistori$ and #rtisti$
'ork(
Thomsen& C( F(& #n Bld #dhesive--tar$h =aste( # Ne' Te$hni:ue - The -u$tion Ta"le
Bffers Ne' Eori;ons in the Treatment of Brittle Textiles( =aris Con!ress =reprints& 9?-
99(
=ea$o$k& 0(& 7882( Drin! #r$haeolo!i$al Textiles( N0-#T ? in Tidens Tand @&
Copenha!en(
6ates& N( -(& 7889( <esults from a Guestionnaire on the Conservation Treatment of
=ainted Cla!s and Banners( *n =reprints of the 0i!hth Triennial Meetin! of the *CBM -
CC& -dne(