In Kerknieuws December/January 2018, I announced that, following the successful conservation of our ‘Man and Creation’ tapestry, plans were afoot to clean the four ‘E VI R’ stolae and four matching pulpit falls. As a result, we were contacted by Marianne Zwaan from the Netherlands telling us that she was the person who made the falls in 1990-1992. She writes: ‘I still think back on this project [instituted by Henk van Waveren] with great pleasure. I think it’s an honour and am grateful that I was allowed to do this. It makes me happy to read that you find it worthwhile to have them cleaned’.
Conservator Poppy Singer has recently undertaken an initial assessment. All four stolae exhibit ingrained greasy soiling due to contact with skin and hair across the back neck. Not surprisingly, the white stola is particularly dirty with additional ingrained grey soiling at the hems. In addition, the nature of the embroidery and the use of mixed materials, including gilded leather, makes the cleaning of all eight pieces problematic. Initial treatment in Poppy’s studio will therefore be limited to surface cleaning techniques, using vacuum suction and cosmetic sponge. Following this, the items will undergo further tests and potential solvent dry cleaning at Upstage, a Specialist Vintage and Theatrical Drycleaners in Bounds Green.
Our plan is to undertake a staged approach in order to assess the effectiveness of the clean. We will commence with the red set, since its stola exhibits small holes in the lining. Poppy will be able to prevent further damage by overlaying a neat patch. Thanks once again to the generosity of the Friends of the City Churches, we have been awarded a small grant which will cover the entire cost of the project.