Consolidation of Black-dyed Māori Textile Artefacts: Evaluating the Efficacy of Sodium Alginate

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Catherine A. Smith; Rachel A. Paterson; Bronwyn J. Lowe; Rangi Te Kanawa;


Studies in Conservation, Routledge, Volume 63, Number 3, p.139-154 (2018)


ABSTRACTBlack-dyed artefacts are found in museums worldwide, many produced using an iron-tannate compound. Deterioration of iron-tannate dyed artefacts is an international preservation issue: in New Zealand the deterioration of paru (iron-tannate) dyed Māori textiles is widespread. This article reports experimental work testing the efficacy of sodium alginate, a consolidant developed for deteriorated paru-dyed muka (fibre from harakeke; Phormium tenax). The colour stability, strength retention, and acidity of paru-dyed muka consolidated with sodium alginate (0.25, 0.5, and 1% w/v in water) was tested pre- and post-artificial light ageing. This study found that sodium alginate had no negative effect on paru-dyed muka and in some cases provided benefit. Interestingly, the colour of paru-dyed muka is substantially more stable in UV-filtered light than previously recognised. Also microfading results were in agreement with visual assessments of colour change at 1 Mlux hour exposure, providing confidence in this relatively new technique to assess colour change.