Contextualising textiles : using documentary evidence to retrieve evidence for regenerated protein fibres

Brooks, M.M. and Rose, M. (2006) Contextualising textiles : using documentary evidence to retrieve evidence for regenerated protein fibres. In, Townsend, J (eds.) The Object in Context: Crossing Conservation Boundaries. The 21st IIC International Congress: the Object in Context: Crossing Conservation Boundaries London, UK, International Institute for Conservation, 1-7.


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Conservators are often faced with unfamiliar artefacts. The challenge of understanding little known materials when few examples survive is more unusual. This paper describes interdisciplinary approaches to understanding a group of significant but largely forgotten man-made fibres produced in Europe, America and Japan in the mid-twentieth century. Made from animal proteins (milk, egg white, gelatine, slaughterhouse waste and whale flesh) and vegetable proteins (peanuts, soya bean and maize), their development was closely linked to military preparations for World War 2. Evidence from a wide range of documentary sources used to understand their technology and cultural significance is evaluated and the issue of lacking corroborative data derived from artefacts is discussed. Thompson’s ‘rubbish theory’ is proposed as a useful conceptual framework for understanding changing attitudes to these man-made fibres.

Item Type: Book Section
Related URLs:
Keywords: regenerated protein fibres, rubbish theory, archives, collecting, conservation, interdsiciplinary study
Subjects: T Technology > TS Manufactures
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Art
ePrint ID: 37959
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
August 2006Published
March 2006Submitted
Date Deposited: 26 May 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:07

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