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Revealing the hidden: the X-radiography of textiles

Brooks, M.M. and O'Connor, S. (2004) Revealing the hidden: the X-radiography of textiles NPO (e-journal), 1, (2)

Record type: Article


X-radiography is an established non-destructive investigative technique used in many areas of conservation practice which has not usually been applied to textiles. The aim of this interdisciplinary research is to explore the potential of x-radiography as a tool for the characterisation, condition assessment, study and conservation decision-making of ancient, historic and contemporary textiles. Such X-radiographs enable hidden aspects of textiles and textile artefacts, such as seaming, stuffings and structural supports, to become evident as well as more subtle details such as internal stitching threads, variations in weave structures and differential metal weightings on silk fabrics. It can also be used for mapping areas of repair and deterioration. The benefits of such analysis are not only for conservators and curators since X-radiographs are also an exciting and dramatic tool for communicating a greater understanding of textiles to the public.
3. Methodology
Specific X-radiography techniques are being developed to enable images of textiles to be produced. The emphasis is on using equipment commonly used by objects and paintings conservators. Techniques to produce high definition, high contrast images involve using low energy x-rays with appropriate filtration. Specialist equipment and techniques are also being explored, including micro-focus radiography, computer tomography and real time radiography. The images have been digitised using a dedicated X-radiograph film scanner to facilitate image interpretation and digital image processing to enhance detai.
Several case studies are included suported by photographs and radiographs.

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Published date: November 2004
Additional Information: This research is part of the Textile Materials theme of the Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies. This was established in July 2002 as a result of a major award of £948,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB). The Research Centre's aim is to improve the care and interpretation of historic textiles by enhancing knowledge and understanding of textiles and textile conservation. The Centre, which will run for five years, is based at the Textile Conservation Centre (TCC) at the University of Southampton's Winchester Campus. The TCC's partners are the University of Bradford (Department of Environmental & Archaeological Sciences) and the University of Manchester (School of Art History and Archaeology and the Whitworth Art Gallery). The Centre's Director is Dr Maria Hayward (TCC) with three Associate Directors: Dinah Eastop (Senior Lecturer, TCC), Professor Carl Heron (University of Bradford) and Professor Julian Thomas (University of Manchester). The Centre's research has been structured into four themes: Textile Materials, Modern Materials, Textiles & Text and Worldly Goods. The X-radiography project forms part of the Textile Materials theme. This technique will add value to textile conservation research in the broadest sense as a tool for understanding artefacts and developing appropriate strategies. Collaboration with museums, heritage groups and industry is an important part of this project.
Keywords: X-radiography, textiles, conservation


Local EPrints ID: 17248
ISSN: 1742-6162
PURE UUID: 25a61d1c-48c6-4faf-98a8-68dd41be75ec

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Date deposited: 12 Aug 2005
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:39

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Author: M.M. Brooks
Author: S. O'Connor

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