University Products Sponsors “Making Mannequins with Fosshape” Workshop

On November 17th and 18th the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted Fosshape Workshops sponsored by University Products, Inc. As part of the 2015 North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC) the workshop allowed textile conservators from throughout the world to learn about and work with both Fosshape 300 and 600, donated by University Products. The workshop was led by Shelly Uhlir from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Her presentation showed how they had used Fosshape in numerous exhibits and allowed them to be able to easily, effectively, and accurately create mannequins for their museum. Once the presentation was completed, workshop participants spent the remaining time working with Fosshape. Three stations were set up to work with Fosshape to create torso, head, and hand mannequin pieces. The participants enjoyed the hands on time, allowing them to be both creative and learn how using Fosshape can be of use in their own museums and private practices. Participants were from countries including the U.S., U.K.. Sweden, Denmark, and Australia. All enjoyed learning about and working with Fosshape.
Making Mannequins with Fosshape

Textile Conservation Conference

logo NATCCUniversity Products will be exhibiting their products at Material in Motion, the 10th Biennial North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC) on November 19th and 20th, 2015 from 9 am – 4 pm.  It will be held in the kinetic city of New York. The Fashion Institute of Technology will be the site of two days of presentations and posters that will promote new technology and a deeper understanding of the critical issues facing textile conservators. The conference theme will be further explored through tours and training workshops.  Tours include: the newly renovated Costume Institute, the Department of Textile Conservation and the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; transdisciplinary artist Laura Anderson Barbata’s studio in Brooklyn; Penn and Fletcher, a custom embroidery workshop in Queens; and l’aviva home, a design studio in Soho.
Experts in the field are leading the workshops:
•“Aqueous Cleaning Methods” with Dr. Richard Wolbers, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Science, Art Conservation Program, University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum;
•“Basic Patternmaking for Costume Exhibition Dressing” with Tae Smith, free-lance textile conservator, professor at Parsons The New School for Design, New York, NY;
•“Advanced Fiber Identification” with Dr. Denyse Montegut, Professor and Chairperson of the graduate program in Fashion and Textile Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY;
•“Documentation Color Management Strategies” with Scott Geffert, Senior Imaging Systems Manager, Metropolitan Museum of Art Photograph Studio; and
Fosshape•“Making Mannequins with Fosshape” with Shelly Uhlir, Exhibits Specialist, Mountmaker in the Conservation Department at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
The NATCC was founded in 1994 as an international forum to share research, theory and practice in the field of textile conservation, and foster collaboration. Though the organization was conceived as a North American venture, it has attracted more global participants with each successive conference and is now an internationally recognized and respected forum for textile conservation. We received 90 abstracts from 25 countries for the 21 spots in this year’s program. We anticipate the largest number of participants to the conference will be from the United States, Mexico, Latin America and Europe.
All who attend bring what they learn from the conference back to their work at home. They find new methods to explore and/or discover suppliers with just the tool or material they need.

Tale of the Three Dresses

A wedding dress can serve as one of the most symbolic and treasured items of clothing in a woman’s closet. Throughout history, brides have long anticipated the occasion to wear exclusive fabrics and rich materials of a luminous color. Let’s be honest – wedding dress is designed to make every girl feel like a princess!

Specialist textile conservators at the Historic Royal Palaces recently completed a major project to conserve five iconic British royal wedding dresses. These wedding dresses are kept in carefully controlled storage conditions at Kensington Palace, enveloped in many layers of protective and supportive packaging materials. The silk satin wedding dress worn by Queen Victoria in 1840 is among one of the most popular dresses in the collection, as it set the trend of white wedding dresses for years to come. If you are seeking the royal treatment for your own special garment, we have some tips and products that will help you conserve your precious gown for years to come!

Unless you want to “trash” your wedding dress (for personal reasons), preserving it is much easier and more affordable than you think! Conserve your gown the way museum professionals do using all archival quality supplies from University Products.

What You Will Need:
• Clean gown. All additional pieces removed and stored separately.
Large textile box. Textile conservators prefer white poly box because it is lightweight yet sturdy, and won’t snag the fragile fabric.
White cotton gloves. Always wear gloves to handle something that can deteriorate from contact with human secretions (yes, even tiny amounts of natural oil that can hide in your fingers. Overtime the invisible “fingerprints” can turn into ugly stains and destroy delicate fabrics.
Unbuffered acid-free tissue paper. Put down a few layers on the bottom of the box, lower the dress, folding it in as few places as possible and place rolls of loosely crumpled tissue paper within the folds. Stuff the sleeves and the area between shoulders with similar “rolls” of tissue paper. Your dress will hold shape and won’t wrinkle from long term storage. Put some more tissue in the corners so the dress won’t move even if the box is being transported. Cover everything on top with a few more loose layers of tissue.
• Add a packet of Silica Gel Desiccant for some internal moisture control.
It is best to store the dress in the conditions that are comfortable for a human! No musty and cold basements or dry and hot attics. Drastic changes in humidity and/or temperature are very very bad for your dress. And our goal is to make it last as long as possible, right?

What NOT to do:
• Don’t try to preserve a dress that is dirty, soiled with sweat, dirt or food.
• Don’t encapsulate the dress in air-less container. Vacuum is not good for the fabric, it will start to deteriorate.
• Do not use boxes with clear windows. They might be pretty, but light will discolor part of the dress that is showing through and it will become different from the rest of the garment.
• Keep away from dust and mold.
• No basements and attics, high humidity or dryness, extreme heat or cold.

What You Should Do:
• Have the gown looked at by a textile preservation specialist or at least professionally dry-cleaned.
• All little rips/snags should be mended, loose threads tied up and hidden. All additional decorations (especially those with metal base) removed and stored separately.
• Obtain a large, acid-free textile box that will easily fit the dress and some tissue paper.
• Handle everything in gloves.

To illustrate this blog post, we used 3 generations of beautiful white dresses, courtesy of one of our treasured #TeamUPI members – Kim. They are her grandmother’s, mother’s and her own wedding gowns. All three were carefully preserved and sent home in archival textile boxes, padded with acid-free tissue paper.

Happy Flag Day!

According to all-knowing Wiki, in the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 and commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.


University Products’ Vice President and General Manager John Dunphy recently had the opportunity to visit Camille Breeze at the Museum Textile Services studio in Andover and took these snap shots. Read MTS’s blog to find out more about Solon Perkins Flag and Mary Baker Eddy Peace Flag projects.

The Angels Project

2013 Angels Project, Hoover Dam/Boulder City Museum, Boulder City, NV. Photos by Connie Frisbee Houde

The Costume Society of America was founded on March 23, 1973 to advance the global understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance. In 1978, it began forming regional groups, now encompassing six throughout the United States and Canada, and one international group. CSA promotes its goals with annual national symposia, and publications, including an annual journal, a quarterly newsletter, and a monthly electronic newsletter.

This year’s 40th annual meeting is to be held from May 28th to May 31st in Baltimore, Maryland. The week’s activities include keynote speakers Jay McCarroll and Dominique Streater from Project Runway, presentations, panel discussions, professional development sessions, silent auctions, visits to historic sites, and social hours for participants.

Since 2006, CSA has hosted a special volunteer event, the Angels Project, in conjunction with its National Symposium. This one-day project provides conservation, storage, and curatorial assistance to a costume collection at a small institution. This year, The Angels Project will take place on May 27th at the Historical Society of Baltimore County. Angels will be cleaning, photographing, labeling, documenting, and re-housing the costume and accessory collection to help the small staff of the museum.

Historical Society of Baltimore County building (an old alms house), site of the 2014 Costume Society of America Angels Project. Photo courtesy of CSA

Corrugated Textile Storage Boxes To assist in this deserving conservation effort, University Products is donating archival storage supplies to this year’s Angels Project. Donated items include Unbuffered Interleaving Tissue, Archival Textile Storage Boxes, and Polyester Label Holders. These items will assist in the Historical Society’s renovation goals as it looks to develop new and exciting exhibits to display Baltimore’s unique and diverse history.

University Products is honored and excited to once again participate in this significant cause and donate to the Costume Society of America’s Angels Project 2014.

Conservation Dance

We decided to share with you this wonderful video, showing (and describing) conservation process that took place at the esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum‘s conservation labs a few years ago, during preparations for a large exposition dedicated to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. An extremely diverse collection, ranging from theatrical set decorations to ballet costumes, worn by world renown dancers, with everything in between (amazing posters, created by some of the greatest artists of the time, photos and other mementos). Costumes, obviously, presented biggest conservation challenges, being actual pieces, made and used for dancing, some of them extremely fragile but nonetheless impressive in their imaginative designs and meticulous detailing.

Conserving Diaghilev from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

Using Fosshape for Mountmaking

Fosshape is revolutionary light weight material for mountmakingFosshape, the new specially engineered polyester material looks and feels like felt in it’s raw state, shrinks about 25% and stiffens from applied heat. Because of it’s infinite flexibility, it is ideal for creating low-cost lightweight forms for costume or hat display. Fosshape is durable for indoor or outdoor use and even breathable. It saves valuable time and labor during the construction process, since no messy additives or drying/setup time are required. All synthetic, it is not affected by humid conditions or water, and is mold and mildew resistant. University Products offers Fosshape in 2 different weights/thicknesses. Please see How-To Tips with instructions on using Fosshape and more technical information. Also, watch our new video on creating a dress form out of Fosshape using both a steamer and a heat gun:

Preserving the Old Glory

Archival Quality Flag Box from University ProductsMemorial Day was established for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces and naturally, the American Flag takes center stage in this somber celebration. There are very particular rules and procedures, called collectively The Flag Code for everything from carrying and hanging to folding and disposal of Old Glory (which are actually part of U.S. legal code). Although “flag etiquette” is not particularly enforced, taking good care of your cherished symbol will exponentially increase it’s life span, whether it’s brand new or an old family heirloom!

Conservation – As with any textile, make sure to conduct all necessary cleaning and repair before attempting to store or display the flag. Checking for possible insect infestation/ damage is always a good idea with textiles, especially if previous storage conditions were not ideal. Once it is deemed clean of unwanted visitors, conservators start by carefully removing dust, dirt and other environmental debris, treating stains with appropriate cleaning products and, if required, mending rips and/or signs of wear and tear. Old Flag conservation, repair and mounting at the Museum Textile ServicesWe always recommend contacting a professional conservator if you are dealing with an especially fragile item of high monetary or sentimental value. Our friends at Museum Textile Services specialize in treating all sorts of fabric treasures, including flags. Click on the image to read just one of their flag-restoration stories.

Cleaning – Minimize washing or cleaning of older flags. You should not wash or dry clean them except with the advice of a professional conservator. However, vacuuming gently (on low suction) using a brush attachment covered by a clean piece of cheesecloth is usually a safe and effective cleaning method. New flags, depending on the type of material, can usually be washed by hand using a mild soap.clear view flag storage box

Special Storage – triangular-shaped archival quality boxes are designed specifically for storing properly folded flags. Acid-Free Tissue or Polyester Batting may be used for stuffing and support, if needed. University Products offers 2 kinds of ready-to-assemble flag boxes: the Archival Quality Flag Box in Blue/Gray Corrugated Board and the Clear-View Flag Box in 20pt. inert Polyester.

Creating a Custom Product for Paintings Restoration

Mini Suction TableDon’t you just love going “behind the scenes”, sneaking a peek at the artists’ sketches and finding out about the designer’s source of inspiration?
We sure do, and here’s your chance to learn about the story behind the product, namely – our New Painting Suction Table:

Mini Suction Table SketchIn March 2013, the Washington Conservation Guild held their annual “Three Ring Circus”, which included three concurrent sessions that preceded a reception and exhibitors’ showcase. University Products Vice President and General Manager, John Dunphy attended the WCG and spoke with conservator Nancy Pollak about a specific product of interest to her.  As a conservator of paintings and painted textiles, Pollak was seeking a suction table that would allow treatment of paintings that are still mounted on stretcher bars. The device would be easy to slide between the canvas and the stretcher even in small corner areas.

Mini Suction Table in use behind the stretcherAlthough University Products did not offer the product at the time, John recognized that the creation of this new table was attainable.  Using the rough sketches provided by Ms. Pollak, he began to conceive a design that would be both practical and affordable. After engaging in a discussion with the company’s current suction table manufacturer, a painting suction table prototype was manufactured exclusively for Ms. Pollak.  After receiving and testing the prototype, Ms. Pollak stated: “I am so impressed with this, and with the way you are working with me to bring this idea to fruition. The current design has good suction and and the way the suction port comes from the bottom makes it easy to hold and maneuver into place without disturbing the canvas. The wedge can slip between the stretcher and canvas, and I was even able to use in on a flat-faced stretcher where there was very little space. It works really well in corners.”

The painting suction table is just one example of the many quality museum and preservation tools and products that Mini Suction Table in use on a stretched paintingUniversity Products continues to offer and develop for its customers. The scope and breadth of the products goes far beyond those materials and goods found in the industry. The people at University Products, like John, have the knowledge, vision, and experience to bring customer’s ideas and needs from an intangible concept to a useful product that can be used to complete work more efficiently and effectively.

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8.

Throughout this month, many major archival institutions in the US (including the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Park Service, and Smithsonian Institution) join together in paying tribute to the generations of women and their invaluable contributions to American History, Science, Politics and many other aspects of life.

Our friends at Museum Textile Services featured a conservation project they just completed for The Wheaton College’s Permanent Collection that is directly related to one of women’s critical roles in American history. You can read this fascinating series of blog posts (parts 1, 2 and 3) describing preservation efforts on a large collection of artifacts from the American Women’s Voluntary Services (AWVS), the largest American women’s service organization in the United States during the World War II. MTS staff were entrusted by Wheaton College with a large collection of WWII uniforms and accessories, as well as tiniest clothing details such as spare buttons and badges. Each garment/accessory was assessed individually and prescribed various conservation/cleaning treatments administered to them depending on the material, condition and individual qualities of the item. In the end, all were surrounded by (and/or stuffed with) acid-free tissue and placed in archival textile boxes for safe storage.

Overall, it was a modest but precise treatment for these prized pieces of history, making them safe for study and display. We sincerely thank Museum Textile Services for employing our archival quality products throughout this important project.