C2CC Mounting Garments for Display

C2CC Mounting Garments for Display


And now it’s my pleasure to turn
the floor over to Jenny Arena. Thank you so much, Adam. So you know I’m Jenny Arena, and
I’m with Heritage Preservation. We’re so glad you’re
joining us today. It looks like right now the
room has 126 folks in here, and it’s slowly climbing. Let me go ahead and start by
giving a quick introduction to the community
and these webinars, and then we’ll move
on to our topic. So Heritage Preservation is
moderating the Connecting to Collections Online
Community in cooperation with the American Association
for State and Local History and with funding from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services. The site is designed and
produced by Learning Time, and the goal of the
online community is to help smaller museums,
libraries, archives, and historical
societies quickly locate reliable preservation
resources and network with their colleagues. In developing the
community, we’ve drawn on many resources that
were developed for the C2C initiative, including the
bookshelf and the Raising the Bar workshop and webinars. Links to all of
these resources can be found under our topics
menu on the main website. And about once a month or
more, the online community features a particularly
helpful preservation resource or topic and host or
webinar related to it. Recordings of these webinars are
archived on our main home page ConnectingtoCollections.org. Today’s webinar will also
be recorded and added to the archive, and you can see
new topic menu webinar archives there. And they’re also filed under
the topic menu by subject. Now, today I am so pleased
to welcome Kathleen Kiefer and Petra Slinkard. Both women are from the
Indianapolis Museum of Art. Kathleen is a Senior
Conservator of Textiles, and Petra is a
Curatorial Associate within textile and fashion art. And they kindly agreed
to lead this discussion today on mounting
garments for display, with an emphasis on
mounting to mannequins. Kathleen and Petra, would
you mind telling the group a little bit about yourself? And Kathleen, we’ll go
ahead and start with you. OK, great. This is Kathleen
Kiefer, as Jenny said, and I’m the Senior
Conservator of Textiles at the Indianapolis
Museum of Art. I’ve been here a little
over 5 and 1/2 years, and we’re very
exhibition-driven in the work that we do here– lots
and lots of textiles being prepared for display. Prior to coming to the
Indianapolis Museum of Art, I was a textile conservator
at Winterthur Museum Gardens and Library and also
involved in teaching in the graduate conservation
training program there. And my name is Petra
Slinkard, and I have been with the
Indianapolis Museum of Art in the textile and fashion arts
department for about six years, actually. May will be my sixth year. And prior to working
at the IMA, I worked as a Curatorial Assistant
with the Sage Collection, which is a social history
clothing collection located on Indiana University’s campus
in Bloomington, Indiana. And I also did some work
with the Kinsey Institute and their clothing collection
and have been heavily involved in assisting Kathleen
with mounting exhibitions, but also working alongside
our curator [INAUDIBLE] in researching and
developing the thesis for multiple
exhibitions at the IMA. Great. Thank you both so much. So before we get
started, we just wanted to ask a
few poll questions to get a feel for our audience. And as we’ve done in
webinars in the past, these will be door
prize questions. So we’ll choose some of
our respondents at random and you’ll win your choice of
a book from the C2C bookshelf. So our first question is,
what type of collections do you work with? And I’ll give you some
time to fill that out, and I’ll also pull over
our second question. To get an idea of how
big your institution is, we go about that by asking
how large our staff is. So it looks like
about 68 of you– and this is still taking
art from historical, work with historical collection
and a few of our other options. And it looks like we
have a pretty good mix of how large the staff is. As you can see, most
popular is five or less, so some smaller
institutions with us today. I’m going to move these over,
and I’ve got one more question for you, which relates to
today’s topic, of course. Do you currently use mannequins
to mount historical garments, and your options are yes
and no and then “no, but you are interested in starting
or learning more.” I’ll give you a few
seconds to answer that. Looks like we have 144
people in the room with us. So a lot of you say yes. 76 say yes, only six say no,
and then another 43 say no but you’re interested in learning
more, which is fantastic. So I’m going to
move over Kathleen and Petra’s PowerPoint,
and they wanted to start today off with a video. So I’m going to launch
that in just one second. Feel free throughout their
presentation to ask questions. I’ll make sure to
save those, and we’ll ask them as soon as
they’re done presenting. OK, Kathleen and Petra, I’m
going to go ahead and hit play on this. For this exhibition we have
a select set of mannequins, and for the most part those
mannequins work quite well. For our needs,
however, for this show, because it was a very
contemporary show, there were some
pieces that we needed to make some adjustments to. And some pieces we
really have to be kind of creative in how we
filled out and manipulated mannequins. It’s not a clothing store. We don’t have a variety
of sizes to choose from. We have one size and that was
build for a particular person, and so we have to accommodate
in the best possible way. Each piece requires a lot
of individual attention. We had to really modify
mannequins for this dress here by Thierry Mugler. It’s called the “space
age cocktail dress,” and this dress has
a 22 and 1/2 waist, which is actually very small. When you see a final
product, and it’s with any kind of art
or technology, people– I think we tend to be so
engrossed in the final product that we don’t stop to
think about all the steps that we took to get there. In some cases, we really have to
be creative in how we fill out and manipulate mannequins. OK, I’m going to move
this over, and then I’ll hand things over to you guys. All right. You’re all set. Great. Petra, you can just
get started for us. OK, well, thank
you for joining us. And having looked at the
results of the survey questions, it looks like most of the
people who have signed on are from smaller
institutions, and I’d like to point out
just from the get-go that while the IMA is
a larger institution and we are very fortunate
to have a lot of resources at our disposal, the textile
department is actually just a department of
essentially four people. So we can kind of relate to
some of the smaller institutions that are working with a
staff of maybe five or six. So just keep that in
mind that we appreciate where you’re coming from. And so one of the first things
that we wanted to talk about was just to give you an overview
of what our starting point is anytime we do an exhibition. And the focus of
this presentation will be primarily on 20th
century and, in some cases, 21st century garments and
mounting those garments. But we do very frequently
work with historical dress, with male and female, and we
work with ethnographic dress and textiles as well. So any time we’re
preparing an exhibition, we’re constantly looking
at a variety of resources and brainstorming to
figure out the best ways to present those pieces. And so the first thing that
we essentially do is research. Then we do assessments
of the garments and then we collaborate
with conservation. And some of the first
steps that I take, basically when we’re pulling
together a checklist, is we pull everything
that we’re considering and we go in with
the conservators and look at every
individual piece and determine together
whether or not this piece is based to show. Can it withstand the time
period that we’re looking at for the exhibition run? Does it actually fit
well within the thesis of the proposed exhibition? And then from that point
forward, if it’s a yes, then I consult as many
relevant resources as I possibly can to get a
feel for how this piece was presented on a live person. And sometimes some other
resources that I use are catalog resumes,
exhibition catalogs. There are so many
costume history books that are available. But some things that I
find to be very useful are historical periodicals. And if you use
Google Books, you can access a lot of the
historical periodicals online by typing in a particular
designer’s name or maybe a time period. And sometimes we also rely
heavily on historical patterns. And I think just getting a
feel for how something was worn and within the
context that it was worn can be very helpful
when devising the best way to present that piece–
also looking at other museum collections. And it doesn’t necessarily
have to be limited, of course, to art museums, but
many collections are now putting their pieces online. And just getting an idea
for what other pieces are similar to yours, maybe
if you are focusing on the specific designer,
looking at institutions that have work by
that same designer. And then some other online
resources that I find to be helpful are
fashionencyclopedia.com, the Vintage Fashion Guild,
and then fashion-era.com. And so this is just
a nice little display of how historical or
sartorial silhouettes change. And we really look at how
the basis, the foundation of a garment exists in order
to build or create the best or most appropriate silhouette. And so while we’ll showcase
mostly on contemporary pieces today, I think it was important
to include the fact that what we’re talking about today can
be used in a historical context as well. And so this is just
one example of a range of historical
silhouettes, and there are plenty in the resources
that are available to you in the library or online. And this is a screenshot from
the website fashion-era.com, and if you are
looking for resources. I think that this is a good
one because it will break down in specifics– silhouettes,
colors, fabrics, details. Some institutions will
prefer to present clothing with the use of accessories
or other embellishments, whereas sometimes
art institutions will present pieces on their own. You notice that we cut the
heads off of our mannequins. That’s sort of a choice
that we made in the way that we present our pieces. As I said, patterns
provide a nice reference for developing an idea for
what kind of accessories go with your pieces and
maybe the stance or the mode that best suits your garment. And so once we’ve
gotten together for an initial chat about
what we’re going to show, then from the curator
perspective, the first thing that we really think
about is, well, what is it about this piece
that stands out to us. What is the design
element that makes this piece, this
garment, this ensemble appropriate to show within
the thesis of this exhibition? And that’s what we want
to present to our public. And so from our perspective,
from that point forward, we need to collaborate
with the conservators to figure out what is
the most appropriate way to safely present this piece. And then sort of the
secondary is what is the mood of the exhibition? What is the style
or the attitude that’s appropriate
for the mannequin? Because even though they
are inanimate objects, they definitely have attitude
and they definitely have style. And from a conservation
point of view, my main focus is
always the safety of the garment, the
safety of the artifact, the safety of the
museum collection piece. From a broad
perspective, that would be thinking about the
exhibition environment, light levels, how long
something is on display, your standard careful
handling museum practices, things like that. There are references out
there that will give specifics on that, so we’re not going to
cover that today in any depth. But just know that
everything is predicated on that– careful
handling and respect that we have for objects
that may be fragile and that our goal is to
preserve these over time. Focusing a little bit more
on individual objects, once I have a
checklist of pieces that are proposed
for an exhibition, we really look at the condition. Is the piece
deteriorated in some way? Is it worn? Is there something physically
or chemically about it that makes it
particularly fragile? And then certain garments have
inherent vulnerabilities– just how they’re made. Things that are made from
knitted fabrics– over time, if they are hanging
on a hanger, you know they’ll start to expand
under the forces of gravity. The same thing is
going to happen to garments on a mannequin. So we make note of
these characteristics, and in planning
the way that we’re mounting we try to
ameliorate that, do things that are going
to sort of disperse that force of gravity
that could be damaging. The example that
you’re looking at right now is the Callot
Soeurs dress from 1926, and these 20s dresses, most
people are familiar with them. Often they’re very lightweight,
silk fabric– chiffon, for example– with lots of
heavy beads and embellishments attached. Those can be really
problematic as they age. The silk is fragile and
heavy beads on there. Often you see those
in a condition that they really can’t be
displayed on a mannequin. This particular gown has
silk gloss embroidery mostly, but there is a very
heavy embellishment right on the center-front and
that’s made from heavy beads. And what we’ve done in
this case is to actually attach on the
inside of the dress some velcro that then
matches to velcro that is on a corresponding
spot on the mannequin. And what that does
is take the weight of this really heavy
embellishment off of the dress fabric and allows this
to be safely exhibited. Another thing that we
see often in garments is garments that
are cut on the bias, and that means the straight of
grain is at a 45 degree angle. And fabrics tend to be quite
stretchy in that direction. The stress here is one of
Halston’s spiral cut gowns. We’ll talk about this
a little bit later on. But just for the period
of display on a mannequin, we see movement in
bias cut garments. So those are notes
that we take as we’re preparing and planning for
how we’ll mount the garments. And then going back just
briefly to assessing what is it that we
want to show, we think a lot about what
kind of mannequins we have. And really, I think,
it all boils down to being able to use what
you have most effectively, and we are lucky we do have
a wide range of mannequins. But they’re not always perfect. And so the examples that
you see on the screen are two pieces by Halston. And the blue evening ensemble,
which is a two-piece pajama ensemble, has a very
beautiful full sleeve, and if both arms
were at the side, you would completely
lose the benefit of that gorgeous sleeve. And so for that mannequin
we actually broke the arm and reset it, allowing
us an opportunity to showcase that
aspect of the design. The other dress, which is a
very, very heavy beaded gown, features this beautiful slit
in the front of the dress, and so the pose that we chose
for this mannequin needed to be elegant to correspond
with the design of the dress. But also this stance allowed
us to showcase that aspect of the dress perfectly. And because of
the heavy beading, it was also nice that
that stretch that you see, that fabric between
the legs– our viewers were able to get
close enough to see the type of
stitching and the way that the beads were hand-sewn. And that is an example of
how sometimes the mood that’s created, based on how
the garments are put on the mannequin, can change. The image that you see where
the cape is draped over the arms is from a later expedition
on Christian Dior, and it allowed us an
opportunity to really show this beautiful ballgown
in its simplicity. But you can see that
when the cape is put on, with the addition of
the head and gloves, that the entire mood or feel
of the garment has changed. And something that
I’ve found, and I think probably most of
you have maybe experienced in one way or another,
is that people are very passionate about mannequins. But I do think that it all
boils down to your institution’s preferences and that
it’s important to decide what your goals as
an institution are. From our perspective
as an art museum, we look at these objects as
works of art, and so to us while the mannequins
do resemble human form, they are truly equivalent to
a pedestal or a frame that would be used to showcase
another type of artwork. And I’m not going
to read this to you, but this is an anonymous
comment to a blog post that I had written on some of
the mannequin customizations that we’ve done. And this person had very,
very strong feelings about the skin tone,
quote-unquote skin tone, that we had used, the
paint that we chose, and why we, in her
opinion, seemed to present these objects
with more care when they were contemporary versus historical. And my rebuttal for her was that
for historical garments we use Kyoto mannequins that are
specialized and used by many institutions and that there is a
reason that for using the Kyoto mannequins, which is based
on the stance that you cannot possibly achieve with a
contemporary mannequin. And in the references that
we’ll have for you today, you can link to that
and read the post and also read my response. And I think, as I said,
it’s important to use what you have at your disposal. And so whether you choose
to go head or headless, other options that we have
are half-legged mannequins, dress forms, and then
the custom adjustments that we make ourselves. And in some cases,
having a head, whether it has
stylized features, stylized hair,
stylized poses, can be appropriate as the example
that you see on the screen here. And in other cases,
not having the head can also be quite effective,
because in this case I think not having the head
in the presentation of this bondage suit
by Westwood and McLaren the eye is really drawn the
details of the garment, which in our aspect is the
most important part. This is an example of
a half-legged form, this blouse by Franco Moschino. And in this case, we
only had the blouse. We didn’t have any
accompanying bottom, and so we chose to create
cropped skirts to cover those legs– and
again, in an effort to minimize any distracting
elements of the display and then also the dress form. And then customize
mannequins are something that we are
fortunate to use here. However, if you have
access to a table saw or if you have access to
other standard power tools, you yourself are
capable of making these kinds of adjustments. And I’ll just
scroll through here. And this is Kathleen working
on the form that you just saw. The reason that we removed
the bust for this mannequin was we initially used it to
showcase a Rudy Gernreich design from the 60s
and the breast point was just simply too low. And so we made the decision
to remove the breasts, and Kathleen built a
new bust line for it. This is an example
of the modification that we made to a mannequin to
accommodate the Thierry Mugler dress with the small waist. And really, removing both
sides of the mannequin was the best move for us,
because we needed the stomach to be full in order
to support the dress, and also we needed the
back to be full to support the back of the dress. This is an example of
making a mannequin taller. A lot of times hem
length is something that we consider to be very
important when presenting historical garments,
whether they are 20th century or
from previous centuries, because the hem length is
so important to the way that the dress is presented. And so in some
cases we will have to make a mannequin shorter. Or, in this case, we added
[? ethyl ?] foam in order to make her taller. And, Kathleen, do you want to
talk about mannequin resources? Sure, I’ll do that. What we’ve done here– if you
have a big budget– our museum, we usually use what
we have on hand– but I’ve heard
tell of some shows where they have a
budget for mannequins. And some of the
resources for mannequins are in these next few slides. Goldsmith is a company that
has been around a long time and does beautiful
quality mannequins. The page that I am showing
here shows that they have a huge variety available. So if you’re shopping, that’s
one resource to check out. Rootstein is another
mannequin manufacturer that has been around a long time. Often mannequins are based
on individuals, models for example, and
I don’t know how they do it, if they cast their
body or sculpt from them. Rootstein is one of the first,
I understand, to do that, but they have a huge array
available– good quality, reputable company. And then with the internet now,
there are tons of resources there. If you Google mannequins you’ll
find all kinds of things. And we’ve had some
interesting experiences. Petra, I’ll let
you talk about it. Well, my advice would
just be to plan ahead. We’ve had experiences where,
ordering male mannequins, orders have been canceled
without us knowing it. Factories have gone on strike. We’ve run into the problem
of ordering mannequins during Chinese New
Year, or in some cases we’ve ordered mannequins
and what shows up is not at all what we ordered. And so I would say it’s
definitely planning ahead. But Las Vegas
Mannequins– we just ordered a shipment
from them recently, five male mannequins, and
the price point was decent and it was a good experience. But I would definitely say
planning ahead is important, because you do not know what
you’re going to get when you’re ordering mannequins. And then what do you do with
them when you have them? We have about 100 mannequins
or so in our stock. Not all of them are great. Some get used over and
over and over again, and some only get used once
or twice, depending on what it is that we’re showcasing. But I like to keep the
mannequins put together. I think it’s easier to keep
track of all the pieces. And so what we’ve done
to catalog them is we have a mannequin binder, where
each individual mannequin is given a name. The style of the
mannequin is recorded. We’ve done detailed
measurements of the mannequin from head to toe, and
then a corresponding sheet goes with the mannequin itself. And you can see that on
the image on the screen where there’s plastic
sleeves with twill tape, and basically that
is their hang tag. And when we’re preparing
for an exhibition we keep all of the
bits and pieces that go with the mannequin
within the plastic sleeve or any notes that may
address the piece that it will be wearing. And I’m going to talk about
nuts and bolts things now. So when you’re trying
to find a mannequin for a particular garment or
want to purchase mannequins, I’ve found that the measurements
that are highlighted here are the ones that are
the most critical to try to get in the
ballpark when you’re trying to match a garment to
a mannequin in terms of fit. And what we do in museums and as
conservators is that we always fit the mannequin to
the garment, rather than the other way around. We always want to preserve the
garment in as best condition as possible and not alter it,
try not to misrepresent it. So what is good to do is
get a stock of mannequins that are smaller in size. You have more flexibility in
terms of what they’ll fit. A lot of historic
costume is quite small, and partly it may be that just
the small things that no one else could wear survived. So that can be a challenge. So we’re always really
looking for small sizes. But when you do have some
mannequins at your disposal and you have garments that
you’ve identified to display, using a soft tape
measure and measuring the inside of your
garment at the points that are noted here– the
bust circumference, the waist circumference, the hip
circumference, and the center back length– that’s
one that is critical. And there is sort of
a bone at the base of the neck, top of the back. From that bone that protrudes
a bit down to the waist, that gives you a lot
of good information. Often garments– the
waist point is defined, and then the shoulder and
bust are other defined points, so getting in the
ballpark there is good. And then another one
that I like to do is the shoulder
to the bust line. And as Petra talked
about earlier, sometimes we’ll actually remove
the breasts from the mannequin. A 1970s silhouette was when
a braless, very natural bust line was popular, and for
a 50s garment especially it’s just too low and
gets in the way of where the bust point should be. So removing them and rebuilding
is an option that we exercise. If you have a super
small mannequin, you can sometimes just ignore
that the breast is there and build a new one. That’s about it if
you aren’t able to cut into your mannequins,
don’t want to do that. What I’ve gathered here
is an array of tools that I find useful,
and you really don’t need a lot to do
the mannequin dressing. I’ve got some nitrile
gloves pictured here. In terms of handling
a garment, you want to be very careful
with it– of course have clean hands, use
gloves if necessary. Having a glove that’s
very fitted helps you with manual dexterity,
stitching, and such, so if you’re not able to
wash your hands frequently wearing gloves is a good idea. A variety of scissors, pens. Let’s see if I can
figure out the era. This little bag here, this
silver tool, is micro spatula. Lots of conservation
labs have those. They’re handy for
tucking things in. And then my most favorite
tool is this right here. I call it my mannequin
dressings stack, and it has a nice curve to it. And I find it really useful for
tucking things in and laying things smooth inside a garment. And this is something
I found when I was visiting one of the Shaker
villages in the Northeast, and there was a
guy who was weaving a chair seat out of woven tape. And he had the tape threaded
through this stick that was like a big
needle, and I just thought, wow, that
looks so useful; I have to have one of those. So what he had made
it from was one of the backs of a chair
that didn’t quite work out, so I was able to
get that from him. But I love this tool. And if you can find something
like that it’s a useful thing to have. And then materials and supplies. Of course, we want to use
things that are acid-free, archival quality. When we’re doing these sort
of additive modifications to a mannequin, mostly
what we’ll cover here today is adding, padding, and
building a silhouette with these materials. It’s good to have
something that you can anchor your padding
onto, so what I like to use is tubular cotton
stockinette material, which is this stuff right here. And you can get it
from a surgical supply. A lot of people have used
pantyhose in the past. They sort of pull
them on the bottom of the mannequin over
the legs and bottom torso and then cut the crotch out
and pull that over the head or over the neck. I have a general
aversion to pantyhose, so I really like using
the tubular stockinette. Other materials that are
here– this polyester needle-punched batting. Needle-punched is– if you hold
the batting up to the light, you’ll see little
holes in it, and it’s put together by being felted
rather than using adhesives. And in the past some of the
adhesives that are in batting have yellowed. I think that that may not be
such a problem these days, but we do choose to use
needle-punched batting or polyester felt. We also
use loose polyester fiber fill sometimes, so that’s what
the little cloud of stuff is right here, that you would
use to stuff animals with. I got these out of order. There’s the
stockinette up close. You can see that
it’s quite stretchy, and this wide one here– it
measures eight inches across. And this is a good size
to actually pull over the torso of the
mannequin, and then this is a two-inch
across stockinette. Twill tape, indispensable. You’ll see the use of
that in several places. A nylon net or tool that you get
from your local fabric store, that’s the black and white here. These are sort of a finer
version, like bridal veiling. Also, sometimes we’ll
use larger, stiffer nets. It can be a little
scratchy, so sometimes you want to isolate it
from your garment. And then another material
that I’ve been using sometimes is a high-density
polyethylene sheeting. It’s three ml, this
particular version, so it’s very lightweight. Sometimes I use it
as stuffing, using that little mannequin stick I
have to tuck inside garments, and then it’s also really
useful as a dust cover if you’re dressing
mannequins and they have to hang around for a
while before the exhibit opens. And then thread,
of course, and I like to use cotton
thread the best. It seems to be the easiest
to use when you’re stitching through polyester batting. It doesn’t tend to
develop static and twist and knot as readily as
some of the poly threads– so just for ease of use. And then covering fabrics,
so just basic cotton nets that you can get from
your local fabric store. Whenever I do buy things
from the local fabric store, I always prewash them,
and what I usually do is I put my washing machine
on the gentle, permanent press cycle and put it in a small
amount of one of the Tide 3 regular laundry detergent,
put in my fabric. And then I run it through
once with detergent and then a second
cycle with just water, and then I make sure to rinse
out any adhesive residue. And hopefully we’re getting rid
of sizings, anything that could be problematic for the garment. And then costume exhibits–
it’s not a good idea to keep things up
permanently over time, so we consider them sort of
a short-term installation. So I don’t [? audi ?]
test everything that we’re using
because of time, but we haven’t
noticed any problems. And we do have a program of
[? audi ?] testing that we’re working on here at
the museum, and I’m trying to go back and
test a lot of things that we’re standardly using. So I’ll keep you posted and let
you know if there are problems. Something to do before you start
is understand your mannequin. We have many different
sorts, and on the slide here you’ll see different
arm attachment methods. This is a fairly common one. Behind this nipple here,
there are angled sides, and they’ll slip into this
little key hole opening. But you have to get
them just right. This is actually one of the
Kyoto mannequins up here, and they have an easier
arm attachment mechanism. And then the hands, they
have to be very movable. And sometimes it’s
really difficult to get the arms and
hands on and off, and sometimes you have to
really pull the arm far forward to get it to the point
where it will pop in and out of that mechanism. So it’s a really good idea to–
and they’re all individuals, too. You can have the same
model of mannequin and one will behave
differently from another, so we always try to figure out
the quirks of the mannequin before we even approach
it with a garment. You also want to make sure
that it’s clean and smooth, that there aren’t any areas on
there that will catch or braid, that they’re not covered
with dust and the like. And then also, the
conservator speaking here, you want to make sure that
your hands are also clean and smooth before
you start working. This mannequin image
that’s here shows a feature that I like in mannequins. This join that’s right
here across the hip can be really useful, as
Petra showed, for changing the height of the mannequin. So if you’re shopping
for mannequins, you might want to consider
ones that have that feature. Many of them are solid there. All mannequin,
though, have arms that come off and, for the most
part, hands that come off. And I’ll show you some
examples as we go on where that’s really critical. This would be the basic
procedure for covering or padding out a mannequin. The first thing we do
is pull on a foundation. Then we’ll add padding to create
the silhouette that we like. And then I always like to
cover up the polyester batting or fiber fill, because those
little fibers will really get tangled in your object. And it’s good to avoid that. What I’m showing here, this
is a Bill Blass pants ensemble from the 1980s– very oversized. And this is what the mannequin
was padded out to look like. It was one of the 1970s
bust type mannequins. And I was surprised at
how much of an improvement in the silhouette just
changing the bust shape, raising it and making a
little bit fuller, how it supported that garment
and really improved the interpretation– and also
the safety of the garment. It wasn’t hanging so
much on the mannequin. Here is the back view. And this is something
that we find sometimes, and we have to fudge
certain things. The waist on the pants was
smaller than the mannequin, so what I’ve done is take
some embroidery floss. It comes in a lot
of colors, so you can match your– trying to get
the arrow to move down there. Oh, well. You can find a color
that’s not so obvious. But what I do is loop it through
one side of the hook and eye closure at the waist and then
tie it to the other side, and then you can tuck that in. In the lower image you see that. And then here is the
back of the mannequin as it was for display,
and with the shirt bloused over a bit it wasn’t obvious. I don’t think that
that was something that caught people’s eyes. What I’m going to do now
is sprint through some case studies of mannequins
that we’ve dressed. This Halston jump
suit is cashmere. It’s a knitted
fabric– very drapey. And what you see on
the right-hand side is the modifications that we’ve
made to support the pant suit. I’ve got cotton stockinette
body stocking on there to– it has some nap to it. So having that in contact
with the cashmere net will help that from pulling
under gravity, and then on the knee– the leg
also, the forward leg– I wanted to just
grab that and give that fabric a little support. You’ll also notice
that the bottom of the foot on this mannequin–
I can’t get my arrow there; there it is– we blocked that
up to make the mannequin taller, because you can see
the pants are quite long as part of the jumpsuit. Here are some more details. Again, 1970s– nipples
were really important then in fashion. But I didn’t want over
time that to stretch out the knitted fabric,
so what I’ve done is just make those a
little less extreme. So there is some polyester
fiber fill here and just rounds of
needle-punched batting, and I’ve used those
to cover the breast. And that’s just tucked under
this stockinette cover. And to do these– this is
that eight-inch tubular– just pull it over the mannequin
and cut out a bit for the neck and pull up the front and back. And at the shoulder seams,
just stitch it there, and then you can also
cut out for your armhole. And to hold things, if I’m
wanting to do the whole body, I just pull it down
between the legs, and you can see here I poke a
little hole and then tie it. And then that makes
a good, firm anchor. In this case, it’s just
sort of a non-slip covering for the mannequin, but in other
examples this sort of thing serves as a foundation on
which to build your changes. There’s a close-up
of the modified foot. Our exhibit prep guys
do these things for us. You could also just
have a build-up that’s separate from the
mannequin to raise it as well. With the really long
leg, we had a problem with the heel of the foot
draping sort of awkwardly there, so a solution to
that that was really easy was taking a piece
of two-ply matboard and scoring it so that it
would curve to mimic the heel and just tying it onto the foot. And here we see a
little bit better drape, as though she’s got a
shoe on with the heel. Another Halston dress. This one is a nice
1970s image that is a reference for us of
what we’re going for in terms of the look of the dress. And this diagram is nice. It also shows this spiral cut. Halston was known for these
really amazing, actually, in their simplicity and
just different garments, and so this puts the
garment fabric on the bias as it’s on the mannequin. And here’s one of
our dresses that’s cut in this manner–
so bias here. And you can see some puckering
along the seam, which is on the straight of grain. But this garment, too, for
some reason was stored hanging, so over time in storage
we’ve had some drooping. And there’s actually a
lining inside the dress. And that had expanded
at a different rate than the fabric of
the dress, so we had to make some alterations there. Again, the concept here is
to create a non-slip covering to help support this garment. We didn’t have to
do a lot of changing of the silhouette
of the mannequin, because this is great to
have a 1970s mannequin when you’re doing Halston
clothing from the 70s. There was, however,
a really severe break at the knee, so what I’ve
done is padded that out here. And we’ve got two-inch
tubular stocking net pulled over the leg to
hold that padding in place, and that gave it a bit
more elegant drape here. And then also– I
think it will be more clear in the next slide–
there is a panel of nylon net– it’s right here– that I’ve
stitched to the front of this, a sort of herringbone
stitch right across the bottom edge
of the stockinette. And this is serving as a slit to
keep the dress from collapsing between the legs. And then I think you
can see that there are layers of batting
built up here, one underneath and then
a bigger piece on top. And I tend to layer
them and bevel the edge, and that gives you a
more smooth transition when you are adding padding. Another point to consider when
you’re looking at your garment and planning how you’ll
approach dressing the mannequin, so that we’re not
handling it excessively– the sleeve openings here are
really too small for the hand to pass through, so they
need to be removed definitely before the arm is
inserted into the sleeve. And then this picture
here is showing the top of the arm versus
the cuff of the sleeve, and there’s no way that
those will fit together. So to dress the mannequin, the
sleeve needs to go in the neck and then down– or the arm
needs to go in the neck and down the sleeve here. And this is why it’s good to
understand that mechanism that attaches the arm. It’s difficult to see
that when you’re actually trying to do it with a garment
in place, so it’s helpful. And you have to
also be careful not to pinch the garment in the
join when the arm does attach and then put the hands
on after the wrists have gone through the sleeve. Another Halston dress. This one is a
beautiful chiffon print and, again, another one
of his masterful pieces. It just slips on,
and then there’s a little keyhole shape
here under the tie and that holds everything on. I was a little worried about
this lightweight chiffon dress on this slippery
mannequin falling down during the course
of the exhibit, so, again, I’ve done this
non-slip body stocking. This one was just
pulled over the head, that eight-inch stockinette,
and we padded the bust out a bit to help with supporting the
dress and keeping it on. But also with a
strapless, we needed to keep that
foundation in place, so what worked in this instance
was to use some sewing thread. I picked a color that was
close to the mannequin color, and I’ve just stitched into
the stockinette foundation and then brought it over
the arm and stitched at the back of the
mannequin– so very invisible. Also, the thread could
push into this seam here. And there’s a close-up
view of bust padding. And this is great when it can
just slip under the stockinette and the stockinette holds
it in place for you. Oh, Petra, you can
talk about this guy. OK, well, we actually had
a question from someone about how do you dress something
when maybe the arms don’t fit, and this is a perfect sample. This is a Chanel suit with very
heavy brocades, this fabric. And in 2002 we just
didn’t have the means or the know-how to create
the correct mount for this. And so the conservator
at the time just basically made the
decision to show the garment without arms. You can see that the jacket is
just draped over the shoulder. It gives it a very
different feel and look, whereas in 2012 we developed
a new way of basically dealing with this issue. And you can see that there
are arms and there are hands, and it really does
change the way that the piece is displayed. This coat here, Bill Blass
coat, had the same issue. The shoulders were too broad for
the coat when the arms were on, and this coat had
a lot of structure and quite a straight sleeve. So what we’ve done is
just hang the hands, and then you can see here how
we’ve adjusted the mannequin to improve the silhouette. This is stuffed in the chest
area with nylon netting, and then it’s got a little
stockinette support foundation. And then to accommodate for
the missing top of the arm, I’ve done some shoulder pads
here covered with stockinette, and it’s inside quarter-inch
thick needle-punch punch batting. And then here’s
the hand hanging. And this is how we do it. This is a bent wire that fits
into the little keyhole that holds the arm. We have a fabulous mount-maker
at the museum here. And he works in
metal all the time, and he just whipped up a
number of these for us. I think that there
would be other ways you can do– actually, we’ve
done them with a toggle, too. If you just have a
straight piece of metal that you can put in here and
then tie your twill paper around that and then
pull it down inside, it will hold as well. And what I found
is that– it’s all tied on with 12 tape– looping
it through that hook at the arm first and then just
leaving a long length, then you can tie the twill
paper around the hand when the garment is on and you
can adjust the lengths then. What this is here is
some hot melt glue, and that’s holding the
twill paper in place. There’s not a lot of purchase on
these slippery mannequin parts, so that’s what’s there. And then that can pop
off after the exhibit. Of course, you don’t want
to be hot melt gluing in the vicinity of
your garment, so that was sort of a test fitting
and then removed and glued. Here, you can see that the
sleeve has been stuffed out with nylon net to give
it the shape of an arm since the arm is missing. This is another one where
the sleeve was pipe fitted and the shoulders were
narrow, and the dress would not fit with the
arms on the mannequin. So we thought, oh, we’ll hang
the hands; that’ll be great. It didn’t work in
this case, however, because the sleeve was so
fitted it was shaped darts at the elbow and it actually
swung forward on the body. So when we put the
hanging hands in there, it didn’t give us the
look we needed at all. So what we’ve done
is mock up an arm with this pipe that fits
into the keyhole there and mounted the hand
on the bottom of that. Here is some padding
that we needed to do to modify the silhouette
or the fit of this garment nylon net in the chest
area, and then this is showing the sleeve is
stuffed out– and a bit here to compensate for
the loss of the arm. And there she is, ready to go. And this dress also
needed a little fullness at the hem in the
bottom area, so this is another use of the cotton
stockinette, just zipped over the mannequin. And then this is
some nylon net that is just pushed under
the edge of it, so it’s a quick and
functional approach. I would like to say
that there are methods for mounting garments,
that this is sort of a quick way of doing it. I think it’s functional
and supports the garments, but there’s a book by one
of the costume mounters at the Victoria
and Albert Museum that shows you just an exquisite
method for mounting and doing very tailored and finished
supports for garments. We’re usually running
with about two months’ lead time for our installations,
so I would love to work slower but here we are. This coat is a Halston,
and it has some quirks. One side of the coat is
longer than the other side, and this is something that was
just inherent in the garment. And our curator
didn’t necessarily want to call attention to
that, so what we’ve done is selected a mannequin
with a bent knee. And I think that
helps visually explain what’s going on there– at
least sort of camouflage it. Also, the coat is
open in the front, so we needed something
to put with this garment. What you’re looking at are
garments that are props, and here’s a reference
image right next to it that Petra provided. So we wanted something that
would provide the silhouette but also just stayed
into the background and not be an assertive
part of the exhibit. So what I’ve done is get– this
is a black polyester fabric. It’s got a mat surface texture
or sheen– and pre-washed, of course. And then we’re
making up garments that appear as though
they’re from the 1970s. One thing I found–
initially I had done a short little top for this. But it was very distracting
having the hem line here, so I made a tunic
where the hem ended at the bottom of the coat. This is a fun one, too,
a Norman Norell cape suit from the late
1950s– just a beautifully tailored and constructed
garment that we needed a blouse to go under it. We just had the
cape and the skirt. We wanted to show
some of the skirt rather than just buttoning
the cape up altogether, so I said, well, we’ll just
kind of construct something to go under there,
another prop garment. I did some research online and
found various illustrations of blouses with
the same feeling. So this is just a
mocked-up blouse, actually. What you’re seeing
here is just a sleeve that’s attached to the arm by
a tube of two-inch stockinette, a faux-collar– so just a piece
of the polyester blouse fabric that’s oriented on the
bias and wrapped around the neck– and then
just a blouse front. So it really was
like a long dickie, and it’s secured with twill
tape– so quicker to do. And we got the color
and look we wanted. These are showing
the padding out of the bottom part of this
mannequin to fit the skirt. Here’s the foundation of
the cotton stockinette. There are several layers
of needle-punched batting that I’ve stitched on
here, cotton-stitched on. You might see here some of
the herringbone stitches. It’s a really quick
way of attaching. Also, I kind of like to
round the edges of piece. That helps them blend– and
then a really quick covering, just pulling over another tube
of the eight-inch wide cotton stockinette. And this is a lovely dress. And our curator does
like to show things in an emphasized way. This has a full
skirt, but we wanted to make sure that it was
a really beautiful, really full skirt. So what we’ve done is used
one of our prop petticoats. This is part of our
collection of undergarments that we’ve made specifically
for dressing mannequins. And this is one
that was on our rack and was able to be used again. You can see in this image here
there’s a black nylon net, and this is sort of
a coarser, stiffer net that really– the fullness. And it’s covered over with
a plain-weave cotton fabric. One of the nice things
about this one– I didn’t make this
one; it was here when I came to the museum– this
is a tube of cotton-knit fabric that you slip this
on with, so it is flexible in
terms of its sizing to fit many
different mannequins. So that was nice that
we had that ready to go. This is a Stephen
Sprouse garment, and this is an interesting
one because the bodice, as you can see, is a really
lightweight, nylon fabric. And then there’s this sort
of heavy faux-fur skirt here. With that transparent
top, there wasn’t really any place to support
this red heavy skirt. Often I would use 12 tape or
something, maybe, and support it from the shoulders. So in this case what
I’ve decided to do is make this big extension
around the hips that will actually touch the
inside of the first skirt and hold that in place. So here, lots of padding
wrapped around the hips. I’ve marked the skirt length
with blue tape on my mannequin so I don’t make it too long. This is an example
where the mannequin that the split across the
hips came in handy, because I needed to hang that padding on. Because it’s below
the waist, there’s nothing that would really
hold it there over time. So what I’ve done is take a
piece of plain-weave cotton fabric and make a
platform across the waist or across the cross-section
of the hip of the mannequin. You can see that I picked
a color that was close to the mannequin,
because I was worried that it may show with the
sheerness of the bodice. And that’s what you’re
looking at here. This is a hip sheer bodice part,
and then looking inside here is the black-covered
hip padding. And then this picture’s
large again, too. It’s a little difficult to see. I actually used some pins to
hold this in place in the back, and because of all
the padding the pins could go right through the
garment into the padding. And I’ve opted for these
really fine sewing pins with a white glass head. I wanted to be sure that I would
be able to find the pins again when it was time
to de-install this, so that’s why I opted for that–
and just sort of hypened-in fur there. We’re over time, so I’m rushing. This mannequin is also Stephen
Sprouse and a man’s tuxedo with a Keith Haring print. And what we’ve done here
is used a female mannequin and adapted it to
display this man’s suit. The way I’ve done this is
add padding in the chest area to serve as sort of
a pectoral muscles there and disguise the breast. We selected a mannequin
with flat feet rather than high heels, of course. And then another
thing that I felt characterized the male
figure was having some more fullness in the thighs. So in this case, what we’ve done
is put one pair of pantyhose on the bottom of the
mannequin, cut out some pads of
needle-punched batting and layered them in there. And you can see how they’re
layered to blend and not have a sharp edge. And then the legs of another
pair of pantyhose were cut off, and that was pulled
over the padding. So you can see the
second pair here. And then once the jacket was on,
did a little bit more padding to support the jacket and create
the silhouette that I wanted. This is that high density
polyethylene plastic. That’s slipped in there,
and then a big swath of it is wrapped around the waist. Petra, do you want to
talk about this one? Sure. This is just an example
of how, depending on what the purpose
of the exhibition is and the purpose of displaying
that garment, how pieces can be displayed in different manners. This is a serape pinmounted on
the view on the right, which is from an exhibition called
Simply Halston from 2008. And then it shows how the piece
looks draped over a mannequin. And obviously we have not put
any undergarments under it, and you can see
that that would not be at all appropriate to display
in the galleries that way. And so we did some
research and again found images of pieces that would
have been worn underneath, and Kathleen very graciously
made props for them. And there’s our reference
image and the props I made. And I didn’t do such
a tiny little bra. I decided to go for
something bigger. And we’re coming to the end now. This is a recent
acquisition to the museum, a beautiful Christian Lacroix. And I mounted this, and
these strapless ones are sometimes tricky. The bust of this garment
was quite a bit larger than the mannequin,
but you still want it to visually
correspond with the mannequin. So looks pretty good–
getting a little closer, looks pretty good. And then when you
get really close, you can just see how
much difference there is. And what I’ve found
works in these situations is to just fit the
back of the garment and push the bust fullness
forward, padded out. And then what I’ve done
is filled in the gap with a fabric that
is close in color to the mannequin or
maybe the garment, and sometimes that works. But you can see that
it’s just pinned in there with insect
pins to camouflage that. That was sort of
a sprint through. I hope that the images, just
seeing them is instructive. And I guess we can take
some questions now. Jenny, do we have time for that? Yeah, we do. We have about five more minutes. I’m going to quickly
pull up our survey. Thank you for everyone who’s
hung on past 3 o’clock. We’re going to try to fit a
few questions in before 3:15. If you guys could take some
time and fill out our survey, we really look at all
your responses carefully, and they really help us
plan our future events. So I’m going to go ahead and
try to get a few questions in before our time is up. Petra, I’ll ask this one
to you, and then, Kathleen, if you want to jump
in, that’s perfect. Ann had a great question of what
are the most important traits you look for in a mannequin
for use at your institution? Is it based on the exhibit? Is it based on the piece? Well, I don’t think anyone
has that kind of money, and so what we’re
worried about sometimes is how can we get the
most bang for our buck. And so when looking
at mannequins, I think versatility is
very important in selecting mannequins and also the
way in which mannequins are pieced together. For male mannequins,
we’ve seen examples where the arms will become more
detached below the shoulders, which will make it very
difficult for a narrower piece, whereas if the arms
detach at the actual arm side it makes it a lot easier to do
those kinds of modifications that Kathleen talked about. And so that is a
consideration, is how they’re pieced together, but
also sometimes facial features. In a lot of the exhibitions that
we do with ethnographic pieces or textiles, we will
use faceless mannequins. Again, we use the mannequin
as a pedestal or a frame, and we aren’t trying to provide
any kind of personal context to pieces. And so those are
some of the things that we look at when we’re
purchasing mannequins. Great. Petra did a fantastic job. I may not ask some
of the questions that were posed in the Q&A
box, because Petra already got to them. So thank you for that. We did have a question
from Elizabeth. Kathleen, I’m going to
pose this one to you. Are there any special
considerations when you’re working with
ethnographic items, she says largely made of hide? We often with
ethnographic garments will make a custom form
rather than a mannequin. Sometimes it’s easier to support
the ethnographic t-shaped garments, or if it’s not quite
as tailored to a fashion model body. But I don’t think that
in terms of hide– you can’t really
pin through hide, so if you’re needing to make
attachments or do anything to support, that
would be something that you would be limited. In terms of the mannequin
itself and any kind of negative interactions
with the mannequin, I don’t think that there would
be a problem with the hide. We have used magnets
to attach hide, when we have to mount a
hide object vertically. I don’t know. Does that answer the question? Yeah, I think so. I think so. Let me ask one more question
before our time is up. This is a multi-part question. We had Judy bring up the fact
that a volunteer made some wood form, just raw wood sanded. She was wondering if there
were any problem there, and then a few people
responded to make sure to sand it and paint it. And so the first
question, I guess, is there any problem with
using a raw wood form? Yes, in a word. Wood tends to be
an acidic material, so having museum objects
in direct contact with that is not recommended. Also, if it’s
unfinished it probably has a rough surface, so that
could be problematic as well. The sanding and
painting will help. You definitely don’t
want to display something on the wood for a
long period of time, because the volatile
acidic products from wood– they can
pass through paint. One solution might be to wrap
the wood with aluminum foil in areas that are
under the costume, because the aluminum foil is
a really good vapor barrier. So one could do
that and then slip them cotton stockinette over
it or cover that with fabric that you sew on. There might be a way to
improve those wooden forms, make them more safe. What was the other part? The follow-up
question to this was a lot of people
were asking, can I use mannequins from a
department store that I get? And then how would
they prep those? Do they sand them? What paints do they
use to cover them? Yes, and some of the
mannequins in our collection are, in fact, from
department stores. And even the ones you purchase,
what they’re intended for is visual merchandising
and clothing retailers. If the mannequin is rough,
yes, just go ahead and sand it. What we use to
paint our mannequins is waterborne lacquer
paint, and that’s got sort of a tougher
surface than a latex paint. You can use latex paint as well. Spraying it on gives
you a better finish. Brushing it on, you’ll
get brush marks. What’s really important,
critically important, is that you don’t put
any garments on there until the paint has had a
chance to cure and off gas, and that would be a
minimum of two weeks. And you want to make sure that
the paint is curing properly. Before I came here,
some mannequins came from a manufacturer,
and just the way they were wrapped in bubble
pack transferred onto the paint. And then we’ve had an instance
where some of our under-padding has actually stuck to
the paint on a mannequin. So I’m not sure the best way to
know absolutely that you’re not going to have
problems with paint, but waiting a good
period of time after something’s
painted before you put it in contact with the
garment and then isolating the actual garment
from the paint is good. And some of those
under-structures that we put on serve that function
as well, in addition to being non-skid or
holding padding in place. So that’s an argument for that. Well, great. Thank you so much. And I think there
were a few questions we weren’t able to get to, but
there will be resources posted. As soon this recording
is available, you’ll be able to
find the recording on the online community on
the home page for a bit, and then you can also find
it under that menu called Webinar Archives. So we’ll have some
more resources for you. And if you do have a
question that’s still burning and we haven’t gotten to it
right now or in the Q&A box, I encourage you to
go on the community and post the question
in a discussion forum. We’ll keep an eye on
that, and you’ll also get some great feedback from
other members on the community. Kathleen and Petra, thank
you so much for leading this discussion today. Thank you. Thank you for having
us, and clearly we could have gone on
and on much longer. There’s a lot to cover, but it
was fun to share a little bit. Great. And thank you to all
our participants. Have a fantastic afternoon. Thank you.

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