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Subject: Polymers on cloth and shoes

Polymers on cloth and shoes

From: Mary Ballard <ballardm<-a>
Date: Monday, May 12, 2008
Ingrid Neuman <berkart [at] earthlink__net> writes

>We have a Gianni Versace red sheath dress which is composed of 51%
>silk, 46% acetate and 3% polyurethane.  The top layer, the
>polyurethane, is cracking at this point on one shoulder although the
>dress has never been worn and has barely seen the light of day.  It
>is curious that only one of the top seams is deteriorating.  Does
>anyone else have any experience with this type of cloth from the
>1990's?  Can anyone point me in the direction of some written
>reference material regarding this polyurethane coating?

The simplest explanation may be a stress/strain differential between
the fabric substrate and the coating. You might measure the dress
length and find out if it is the same as it was originally. The silk
can 'creep' or elongate over time. The coating may not have the same
plastic strain characteristics. Was the dress was hanging in storage
(closet)? There is a sleeveless silk dress at a nameless Washington
area museum that has been on view too long and the weight of the
dress on the shoulders has pulled the sleeve opening down so far
that the costume conservator's finishing stitches on the mannequin
show. Silk may not weigh much, but there is stress and strain over
time. Neighborhood Drycleaners in New York may be able to help you
on the treatment.

Mary W. Ballard
Senior Textiles Conservator
Museum Conservation Institute
Smithsonian Institution
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland MD 20746 USA
301-238-1210
Fax: 301-238-3709


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:61
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Received on Monday, 12 May, 2008

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