All posts by spicerart

Curtain Survey, Harry S. Truman Home, NPS

Spicer Art Conservation, LL examined the textile window curtains used in the Harry S. Truman home in Independence Missouri. Each curtain in the house was fully surveyed, conditioned, storage solutions proposed, prioritized and possible reproduction fabrics identified. The work was performed both in the house during opening hours and in collection storage. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Truman_at_gate_97-6_1 independence_truman_wedding_day_p_2

Here is a view of Harry and Bess Truman’s home today and with Mr. Truman in front. Possibly our last Citizen President. Harry and Bess on their wedding day. The couple lived in the home with Bess’s mother and extended family. It was not till after they moved back from the White House did they lived in the house alone.

independence_truman_living_room_nps Truman_BR_croppedtruman_kitchen


The survey of the curtain collections occurred in both the house and in storage. During the full week we had the best helpers from the site. Each of the curtains were photographed overall. Those in good condition could hang. However, the ones in poor condition were all documented flat on large worktables.



Suitable replacement fabrics were found for each of the room’s curtains.

Philip Johnson’s Brick House

Spicer Art Conservation, LLC examined and proposed treatments for the textiles in Philip Johnson’s Brick House adjacent to his private home, The Glass House. This is part of a house wide preservation project for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Glass House complex is a registered National Historic Landmark, considered one of the most significant architectural resources of the Modernist period. A video of the Brick House and the site can be seen on YouTube.


The Brick house is divided into two rooms, a large guest room with walls covered in Fortuny Fabric and a study or reading room. The fabric is a cotton twill that is dyed, printed, and highlighted with printed gild work. The interior design of the bedroom lead Johnson to use similar architectural elements in later projects. He placed the same pink and gold Fortuny Fabric (pictured below) in the woman’s bathroom of the Four Season Restaurant only a few years later. Johnson also placed Fortuny Fabric on the walls of the dining room of the Beck House designed in Dallas TX.

Detail image of the cleaning of the Fortuny Fabric.

Gwen Spicer gave a talk “Decoding the History of the Fortuny Fabric at Philip Johnson’s Brick House Interior” at the New England Conservation Association held at the Shelburne Museum in September of 2010. A summary of the talk can be read in the blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio.


Above left: View of the Brick House from the inside the Glass House. Above right: Front of Brick House with Art Gallery in the distance.   

Gwen Spicer examining textiles from the Glass House.


Maine State Flag Collection

1Hall of flags ca1872

Maine’s large flag collection had been displayed in the Capitol’s rotunda from 1871 until 2003 when a new, permanent, climate-controlled space, was allocated was opened at the Maine State Museum. Each of the flags in the collection were placed on their own individual fabric covered aluminum panel (pictured below) that was used for both display and storage. This holistic project approach provided public access to the collection, while achieving a collection wide preservation plan. More can be read in a condensed version published in NemaNews and on our blog, Inside the Conservator’s Studio


The mounting and treatment of the entire flag collection was performed with the oversight of Gwen Spicer. She trained two talented workers during the three years of the project (photo below). Prior to the mounting and treatment, a condition survey of all of the flags had been performed. 

work on flag, detail

Below, the mounted flags are housed below the display level. The flags stored in the racks below are then in place for future rotations. The rotations are slated three times a year and can be seen at their website

5double exhibit case

Dining Room Fabric Wall Covering at Wilderstein


Spicer Art Conservation, LLC cleaned and stabilized the original wall covering in the dinning room of Wilderstein, an elaborate Queen Anne style country house with views of the Hudson River.

The interiors of the house were all designed by New York City decorator, Joseph Burr Tiffany in 1888. The Dining room is in the English Renaissance style with a coffered ceiling, carved woodwork, and a plaster frieze. The wall covering is a wool, silk, and cotton fabric with large golden chrysanthemums woven into the design.

Here the treated and cleaned wood is visible at the top of the arched areas. It is in great contrast to the untreated wood. The wall covering treatment is also quite visible. The lower area is cleaned, while the upper area is to be cleaned.

Over the years the wall covering has become covered with a thick layer of soot, disfigured by water stains, and has pulled from its attachments.

Read more about this, and our other wall cleaning projects, on our blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio.


In the image above, Gwen Spicer examines a section of the wall covering that had pulled away from the wall.

Herter Brother’s Smoking Room at the Victoria Mansion


The restoration of Victoria Mansion‘s Turkish Smoking room transformed the small 9 x 9 foot room. This is the first documented smoking room in a residential house. The reproduction fabrics used in the upholstery, and all of the trims were carefully reproduced, from the vast and thoroughly saved documents and examples in the collection. The upholstery fabrics and trims were all applied using tackless conservation upholstery techniques.

Before image of the long sofa.
After image of the long sofa.

More can be seen at their website.

Wide Awakes’ Campaign Transparency

A rare Campaign Transparency from 1860 is constructed of a wooden box frame and covered with printed cotton fabric on two sides. This artifact, is from the collections of the Columbia County Historical Society, was made for and used by the Chatham branch of the Wide Awakes at political rallies. It retains is original pole and metal braces. Follow the treatment on Facebook. This unique artifact will be on display in their up-coming Civil War exhibition, “Civil War Panorama, Columbia County 1860-1865”, which opened in July of 2012. More on the project can also be found in our blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio.

 CIMG1284 CIMG1287

An oil lamp would have been secured in place on the base inside the fabric box. Ghost marks survive and nail holes are present at the center of the wooden base.


The two lost sides of the transparency are going to be compensated with new cotton fabric in a color that blends. Diane Schewchuk, curator came to assist with the selection of the fabric. A protective cover was constructed to be used for storage.


The Wide Awake transparency was on display at the Columbia County Historical Society in their Civil War exhibition, “A Civil War Panorama, Columbia County 1860-1865”. 


Read more about Object Conservation at Spicer Art Conservation.

Cyanotype Quilt

This patchwork of sixty-six cyanotypes of people, animals and places in New York’s Capital Region, was lined with a satin weave fabric and attached to a board with several rows of double-sided tape. The focus of the treatment was to better preserve the patchwork.

cyanopatchBT 102-0250_IMG

The patchwork quilt was vacuumed overall and stitching along the perimeters was released to remove the backing fabric. An overall cleaning was performed, and the patchwork was carefully and slowly dampened to align and straighten areas of the textile. A storage mount was constructed from acid-free board with strips of 4-ply board hinged to the four sides with linen tape. The textile was sandwiched between a muslin handling sling and a layer of acid-free tissue. The paper label of the image’s identification was encapsulated in a Mylar L-envelope.


A wonderful early coverlet arrived at Spicer Art Conservation in two halves with numerous damaged areas. The two halves had long ago been separated and therefore showed very different histories. The colors of the dyes of one half had greatly shifted in comparison to the other. Initially, the treatment included rejoining the two halves once the damaged areas were stabilized. After considerable discussions, the owner felt that the coverlet would remain as two separate pieces. 

 10-43a BT obverse

Before and after treatment of stabilized areas.

10-43b BT detail obverse 5 10-43b AT detail obverse 3

Epaulettes & Storage Box

page71_1  10-06 Rogers BT-3

It is not often found a set of epaulettes with their original box. The surfaces were cleaned. The velvet lining of the metal storage box had become insecure. The lining was aligned and secured to the internal surface of the box.

Rogers DT-1 page71_4


Supports for the Epaulettes and protective storage box for the group.

Read more about Object Conservation at Spicer Art Conservation