Academic thesis

Christine Walser-Ziegler: Silk weighting, stress on the weighting methods used from 1870 to 1930 Back
Language: Original   -   Translation
Abstract: Silk fabric and silk articles produced at the turn of the 20th century are often in remarkably poor condition. Textile restorers remark apparently typical damage. The silk fabrics are usually described as brittle, decayed, very fragile, having a powdery surface etc. Often there are strange tears. Generally, these fabrics are called weighted silks although only in single instances are scientifically substantiated findings and examination results of these damage phenomena available.
In textile finishing, weighting refers to treating silk with substances that both alter the weight and the volume of the fiber. These are usually metal compounds or tanning substances that react with the fiber chemically and are wash-proof. The purpose of weighting silk is to compensate for the loss of weight as a result of degumming, to obtain a softer fall, to enhance the sheen and to give the fiber more body.
Just a few years after the introduction of using tin to weight silk, the silk fabrics showed massive damage: in addition to weakening the fiber, in particular, ultimate slow destruction of the fiber. Moreover, red respectively brown stains, so-called silk stains, appeared. Effected were especially light-colored taffetas. Weighting silk with tin phosphate silicate already damaged the silk fibers during the finishing process due to the acids that formed, in particular muriatic acid. Possibly tin silicate, which is initially present as a gel, forms crystals within the structure of the fiber thereby damaging the silk mechanically and thus weakening it. It is proven that tin-weighted silk is more sensitive to electromagnetic radiation than unweighted silk. The metal compounds act as catalysts in photo-induced aging. Moreover, the general increase in weight most likely leads to greater mechanical stress on the fiber and therefore to more rapid aging.


Keywords: weighted silk, weighting, textile finishing, tin salts, metal salts, charge
  • academic institution: Technische Universität München
  • kind of theses:  Diplomarbeit
  • main Tutor:  Prof. Dipl.-Restaurator Erwin Emmerling
  • assistant Tutor:  Dr. Birgitt Borkopp-Restle
  • date:  2002
  • pages:  96
  • pictures:  51
Auszüge in: Restauro, Ausgabe 6, 2003, S. 432-438
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