JAIC 2004, Volume 43, Number 2, Article 5 (pp. 175 to 184)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2004, Volume 43, Number 2, Article 5 (pp. 175 to 184)

A METHOD OF MOUNTING PARCHMENT USING HAIR SILK

MARGARET LAWSON



6 ADAPTATIONS AND LIMITATIONS

The approach outlined was devised for the safe and aesthetically pleasing display of the very small, precious vellum leaves from the 14th-century manuscript, The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux. Since then, hair silk mounts have been used for special exhibitions and loans of larger bifolios, including those from The Belles Heures of Jean of France, Duke of Berry manuscript by the Limbourg brothers. Some of the bifolios have been framed in mats as described in the single mount section. Some of the leaves were mounted to four-ply rag board supports with narrow margins and without window mats. These were installed hanging vertically or on angled decks inside exhibition cases at the Cloisters.

Scrolls (relaxed and flattened) have been considered for mounting with hair silk straps. One narrow scroll about 1.5 meters long was effectively mounted vertically, hanging in a frame, using a combination of hair silk straps and stitching, but another was found to be too heavy, distorted, and fragile.

Small paperboard cards and irregular parchment cuttings have been displayed using diagonally stitched corners and/or straps of hair silk. Multiple-piece objects—works such as triptychs, diptychs, or unusual assemblages with elements that need to be united and secured without adhesive may also be easily shown together, even if only for temporary exhibition.

Fig. 9. Nested mount. Jean Pucelle, Deposition and Presentation, from The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, Paris, between 1324 and 1328; grisaille, tempera, and ink on vellum, 6.2 8.9 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters Collection, 1954, 54.1.2, fols. 75v–76.

Hair silk has been utilized for mounting leather artifacts. Smaller or lightweight three-dimensional objects and ethnographic materials might also be good candidates.

By design, double-sided mounts are non-load-bearing, and therefore larger, heavy, or brittle parchment objects would not lend themselves to such gentle systems in which strands of hair silk hold the vellum leaves without the support of a mat board backing. The double-sided system proved to be very durable for the exhibition of the Jeanne d'Evreux leaves, as the experimental and demonstration model continues to be centered and balanced, and intact, now more than five years without the protection of a case or glazing. However, the double-sided mount with hair silk is not recommended for travel in a frame. The amount of buffering material that can be provided for environmental control in the double-sided frame is limited. For safety, the double-sided mount requires final adjustments and installation onsite. These mounts were specifically designed for installation in freestanding slim cases with drawers for silica gel at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The mount slipped into fabric-covered Plexiglas windows held in place by magnetic bars. Upon return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the double-sided mounts were installed in double-sided frames for exhibition in the museum's galleries.


Copyright 2004 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works