May 2014

Made with quilted silk uppers and ostrich feather decoration, these delicate ankle length boots are a popular object on the Costume and Textile Collection guided tour. The boots have been recently conserved.

Image 85

As seen on the left hand image, the boots were suffering from being stored in too small a box, the feathers are squashed tightly against the boots. The left boot has suffered from over exposure to light in the past, making the feathers extremely brittle and vulnerable to loss. In the box, there were many pieces of feather, broken veins or ‘quills’, from both boots.

The feathers of both boots are discoloured with an accumulation of dust, dirt and broken feather tips.

A method of solvent cleaning and use of blotting paper was chosen to remove the disfiguring dirt. Then the feathers were reshaped by applying gentle moisture from an ultrasonic humidifier, before being dried with a cool air blower. All the while, the feathers were gently manipulated during drying, to stand up once more.

Many of the detached pieces of feather and quill were repaired and re adhered to the boots, colour matching them to the right area.
Soft pads of polyester wadding wrapped in silk jersey material were made and inserted into the toes of the boots to help retain shape and prevent them from collapsing inwards.

The boots are making their debut appearance in the Wonder of Birds exhibition, Norwich Castle Museum. What outfit would you wear with them?

The Wonder of Birds is running from the 24th May until 14th September. Make sure you don’t miss this exciting exhibition!

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