Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


Textile Science


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Martin Bide


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a variety of weighting agents were applied to silk yarns and fabrics to increase their weight in an attempt to make a greater profit on their sale. In addition, the weighting process imparted a more desirable drape to silk, making it more popular with consumers. Consequently, weighting became an almost ubiquitous practice during this time until sanctions on the amount of acceptable weighting were enacted in the 1930s due to concerns around the rapid deterioration of heavily weighted silks.

However, many of these textiles have been accessioned by museums and other cultural institutions and are now in need of extensive conservation. Weighted silks, particularly those weighted with tin salts, present a unique problem in textile conservation in that the medium itself is compromised and subject to continued degradation. While treatments to physically stabilize or consolidate already damaged weighted silk are commonly used, research that has aimed to slow or reverse the effects of these metallic salts have been largely unsuccessful. However, hydration of unweighted historic silk has been shown to increase the tensile strength of treated samples. This research investigates the effect of moisture level on artificially aged tin weighted silk.

This study applied two of the most common tin-weighting procedures and then artificially aged samples of weighted silk habutae. Those samples were then subjected to a series of humidification treatments and complete submersion in water with the aim of increasing the weakened fiber's tensile strength without affecting the drape of the fabric. Samples were evaluated for breaking strength and cantilever bending length (as a proxy for drape) before and after receiving treatments.



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