GENERAL EFFECTS OF AGEING ON TEXTILES
Randall R. Bresee
FIVE TYPES OF AGEING were identified, and the general effects of each of them on textile structures and properties were discussed. Each of these types of ageing affect textiles in different ways. The structure and properties of historic textiles would be expected to vary considerably since exposure to each of the types of ageing would be expected to vary substantially among the population of naturally aged textiles. Conservators should take these considerations into account and vary treatments considerably for different textiles.
Many trade-offs are encountered with conservation treatments. For example, wet cleaning erases physical ageing and removes soil from fibers. This would result in decreases in stiffness, hardness and viscoelastic relaxation times as well as less polymer chain scission, fiber deformation and fracture during handling. However, potential for loss of dye or finish from fibers, crystallization, and diffusion into fibers of surfactants or soil removed from the textile increases.
By being conscious of the general effects of ageing on textiles, one is more able to become aware of the general chemical and physical nature of the object being dealt with. In addition, one is alerted to potential benefits and dangers that accompany various conservation treatments.