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Forgotten fibres : issues in the collecting and conservation of regenerated protein fibres

Brooks, Mary M., (2006) Forgotten fibres : issues in the collecting and conservation of regenerated protein fibres Rogerson, C. and Garside, P. (eds.) In The Future of the Twentieth Century: Collecting, Interpreting and Conserving Modern Materials. Archetype. 143 pp, pp. 33-40.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


As pressure mounted in mid-twentieth century Europe and America, planners were increasingly anxious about the availability of wool for military purposes. Research into substitutes focused on transforming milk, soya and maize protein into wool-like fibres; experiments were undertaken into the fibre-forming potential of egg white, feathers, fish and slaughterhouse waste. Manufacturers and politicians shared a common interest in developing these fibres, named azlons, for the war effort. Companies such as Atlantic Research Associates in America and Imperial Chemical Industries in England were directly promoting their new milk-based fibres to female consumers, making their purchase a patriotic act. Nowadays, regenerated protein fibres are being marketed as high quality ecological and biodegradable fibres. This paper presents a brief survey of development of azlon fibres together with a review of technical aspects of their production. Few examples of mid-twentieth century azlon textiles and garments have yet been identified in museum collections and accounts of their development no longer appear in standard textile histories. Issues relating to this ‘disappearance’ from cultural memory are discussed. Thompson’s rubbish theory is used to explore attitudes to the collecting of man-made materials. The implications of this for conservation practice in both identifying and treating these fibres is reviewed.

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Published date: 2006
Venue - Dates: AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies: The future of the twentieth century - collecting, interpreting and conserving modern materials, 2005-07-26 - 2005-07-28
Keywords: regenerated protein fibres, textiles, fashion, second world war, collecting, rubbish theory, conservation


Local EPrints ID: 37957
ISBN: 1904982174
PURE UUID: 872bf652-f06f-4c7d-94c0-36fbf4dbb3b7

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Date deposited: 26 May 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:40

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Author: Mary M. Brooks
Editor: C. Rogerson
Editor: P. Garside

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