Inside the Collection

Conservator’s Corner: Knight in shining armour

Small model of a knight on a horse
Photography by Kate Chidlow @ Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved

We have had a Finnish furniture conservation student, Sanna Makarainen, with us in the Conservation Department undertaking a 3 month internship with Bronwen Griffin, Mixed Media Conservator. Sanna recently worked on a mounted knight for the Tinytorium exhibition.

Conservator repairing red velvet cloth on the armored knight object
Photography by Kate Chidlow @ Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved

Firsly, she brush-vacuumed the object thoroughly all over. Using the brush, Sanna removed all the surface dirt from the metal, leather and fabric construction materials. A small plastic tube was attached to the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner to reduce the suction flow. Tulle was attached to the end of the tube with a rubber band to ensure that if any fragments were accidently loosened, they could be easily caught in the gauze, rather than getting sucked into the vacuum cleaner.

Armor laid out on white cloth and white pillows
Photography by Kate Chidlow @ Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved
Detailed close up of leather straps on amour
Photography by Kate Chidlow @ Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved

The leather straps on the knight’s leg guards had deteriorated and separated and needed to be consolidated. Sanna removed the leg guards to give her better access to the straps. Some of the leather strapping was in poor condition and needed to be supported. Sanna used a heated spatula, Beva film and silk behind the leather to give it more strength. In two places, the leather strapping had to be re-adhered, so Sanna used Beva impregnated stablitex to sandwich the leather together.

Armored knight laid out a white pillow with cleaning supplies around
Photography by Kate Chidlow @ Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved.

There was quite a bit of red rot in the saddle leather. Sanna protected the fragile saddle with fabric to prevent further abrasion occurring when the knight is seated on the saddle and horse. Some loose fragments from the hooves were re-attached with Paraloid B72 adhesive.

Kate Chidlow
Conservator

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