Viscose Rayon: An Absorbing Problem. An Investigation into the Impact Conservation Wet Cleaning Treatments have on Historic Woven Viscose Rayon Fabrics; with a Supplementary Analysis of Current Techniques for Identifying Man-Made Fibres

Gamper, C., Thompson, K. and Quye, A. (2013) Viscose Rayon: An Absorbing Problem. An Investigation into the Impact Conservation Wet Cleaning Treatments have on Historic Woven Viscose Rayon Fabrics; with a Supplementary Analysis of Current Techniques for Identifying Man-Made Fibres. In: North American Textile Conservation Conference, San Francisco, CA, USA, 12-15 Nov 2013, pp. 54-71.

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Abstract

Viscose rayon has been in production for over a century, however, minimal literature is available on its conservation. Pre-1940s viscose rayon has poorer wet strength than later versions. The fiber’s manufacture has influence on its wet strength and progressive improvements to processing methods have improved this characteristic. The implications for conservation wet cleaning treatments on examples from different eras were investigated. Tensile strength testing was conducted on three sets of specimens from different times – c.1940s, c.1960s and c.1980/90s – each subjected to a controlled wet cleaning treatment. Results showed the two later viscose rayons lost significant strength in the wet state, up to 50%. The c.1940s fabric had a greater strength reduction of around 80% - however, degradation from a black colorant present affected the results. This highlighted the risk that degradation, even when not visible macroscopically, can become significantly exacerbated in wetted viscose rayon. Further tensile tests on specimens subjected to wet cleaning and then air dried showed a return of strength upon drying, suggesting that no apparent immediate permanent impact was had on fibers. This research has shown it can be suitable to wet clean viscose rayon, although such treatment may be less appropriate for older more degraded versions.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thompson, Mrs Karen and Quye, Dr Anita
Authors: Gamper, C., Thompson, K., and Quye, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the authors
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