Preserving Past Fabrics for the Future from the Bergen County Historic Preservation Advisory Board 2009.
This award was given for all the conservation and preservation work I performed at the Pascack Historical Society in Park Ridge, NJ as a member. My work there includes creating and organizing a costume and textile department with storage and workspace, raising money to support the department, implementing and executing proper storage protocol, bringing in outside conservators to train our volunteer staff, hundreds of hours of accessioning conserving and restoring items in the collection, designing and mounting exhibits including three different wedding dress exhibits and the making of special mannequins to fit the unusually small sizes of the wedding dresses.
The most significant preservation project was conserving the Tice Quilt. This quilt is made of four large panels of flat, copperplate printed, plain weave fabric with a bast fiber warp and a cotton weft. This combination called “fustian” was used by English textile printers to circumvent a law forbidding the domestic consumption of all cotton fabric printed in England. The copperplate printing is by engraved plates and is usually only found in a single color. This fabric, however, is credited to Mary and Joseph Ware of Crayford, Kent, England, a printing firm which mastered the two color or two “strikes”. The fabric and printing is dated to 1770. The only other example of this fabric (found as a curtain fragment) was purchased in America by G.P. Baker and returned to England prior to 1957.
The rarity of the fabric is only one reason the quilt is so prized. It has a rich local history. It was donated to the Pascack Historical Society by Harriet Van Riper Tice and was made from her great-great-grandmother’s wedding dress.: Sophia Ackerson who married Abraham Delamater, September 6, 1800. It was later made into the quilt with a sash border added to it. The quilt measures 86 inches by 64 inches and the fabric pattern combines floral. fruit, vegetable and bird motifs.
Bari Falese, a textile conservationist and I spent over 100 hours working on the quilt, realigning cotton batting, and ripped sections of the quilt top, sewing fine, bridal tulle over damaged areas for stabilization, gently vacuuming the surface, testing for wash fastness and wet cleaning and drying the quilt. We then prepared a special mounting and cabinet for the quilt to be exhibited in. This was a project a labor of love. So many hours sewing tiny stitches with exceptionally fine silk thread.