Strain across historic tapestries: a multi-analytical investigation on damage mechanisms and conservation strategies

Costantini, Rosa (2021) Strain across historic tapestries: a multi-analytical investigation on damage mechanisms and conservation strategies. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This cross-disciplinary work improves the understanding on the mechanical degradation mechanisms occurring in tapestries, and how they can be prevented through conservation. Moreover, the research in this thesis offers new insights on the usefulness of 2D DIC as a diagnostic tool for monitoring strain across historic textiles.

First, through a literature review, the cultural relevance of tapestries was highlighted, demonstrating the importance of preserving these artworks (Chapter 1). Chemical and physical properties of the main constituent materials in tapestries, wool and silk, were discussed, together with past studies focusing on tracking degradation (Chapter 2). Through this, the multi-analytical approach to be employed in the experimental parts was delineated.

The mechanical (uniaxial tensile testing) and chemical properties (FTIR-ATR, UHPLC-PDA) of samples from different historic tapestries were investigated. The reciprocal influence of variables, e.g. stress at failure, level of cystine oxidation (in wool), dyes, and weave features, was discussed. The outcomes demonstrate the complexity of the mechanical behaviour when considering small-scale fragments, and so the need of combining chemical and physical testing for properly establishing the condition of tapestries (Chapter 3).

Moving to the study of tapestries from a macroscopic perspective and while on display, the feasibility of 2D DIC for strain monitoring was proved. Among the mechanical mechanisms observed, fatigue showed to have the most influence on overall strains, while creep affected damaged areas like slits (Chapter 4). 2D DIC was also employed for evaluating the efficiency of sloping boards (Chapter 5), support and stitching methods (Chapter 6). In addition to the strain monitoring of (mainly) bespoke mock-ups, friction measurements and tensile testing were conducted to further validate display and conservation approaches. The outcomes suggested that the high friction promoted by covering fabrics is essential for the efficacy of sloping boards, while inclination alone may have only a marginal role (Chapter 5). The effectiveness of couching can be affected by spacing, while support techniques should be selected depending on the extension of structural weaknesses (Chapter 6).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Funder's Name: Leverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)
Supervisor's Name: Lennard, Professor Frances and Harrison, Dr. Philip
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82286
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2021 13:48
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2022 15:59
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82286
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