Behind the Scenes: January 2022

While great care is used in storing textiles, wrinkles are inevitable. Manager of Design, Preparation & Installation Steve Erickson has been working diligently to prepare objects from the Stanley’s extensive collection of textiles for installation in the new museum.

Before his work begins, Steve checks the textiles for color permanence. Small, dampened cotton balls are placed on each color, left for 30 minutes, then checked to see if any color has come bled from the textile.  If the color is stable, Steve proceeds.   

He determines the area to be treated and places a thin, porous piece of paper on the textile before applying a four-inch-wide strip of dampened blotting paper. The paper is covered with plastic and a sheet of plexiglass which are weighted down with sand weights to maintain the humidity. Steve leaves this to rest for 15 minutes until the area of treatment is fully humidified and the wrinkles have relaxed.


His next step is to remove the dampened blotting paper and replace it with a dry sheet of blotting paper.  The plexiglass and weights are put back on and left to sit for another 30 minutes. Then Steve makes certain the wrinkles are removed and moves on to another section. A textile with many wrinkles can take up to two weeks to finish.

This careful, time-consuming method is used to avoid the excessive heat and moisture of a fabric iron, which can damage fragile textiles.  

Photos by Steve Erickson