Friday, 21 August 2015

'A Matt Pierced with Holes'

Forster No.56 is a waist mat or kie fau from Tonga, described in the 'Catalogue of Curiosities' as 'A Matt Pierced with Holes'

Kie fau or overskirt, Tonga.  Forster 56, 1886.1.1178

We wanted to display it as an overskirt on a mount, but this caused problems.  Normally we sew velcro mounted on a strip of calico to the back of a piece of clothing in order to attach it to the mount - this is what we do with Maori cloaks, for example.  But the overskirt is made from the inner bark of the purau (Thespasia populnea), which, while flexible, is not suitable for sewing into.  The solution was to use the fact that the skirt is, as the Forsters describe in the 'Catalogue of Curiosities', 'pierced with holes' to help us.

First, a mount was made with a top and base made from ZFMDF and a thick layer of dense, inert Plastazote foam in the middle.  This was covered with polyester felt, and then fabric.

Completed mount covered in display fabric

The skirt was rolled around the mount:

Overskirt rolled around mount, making sure the holes in the overlapping layers lined up

Chris and Al, the technicians working on the case, had made 25 'staples' from copper wire, sharpened at the ends and covered with inert plastic tubing to cushion them.

A staple

The staples were the correct width to pass through adjacent holes in the skirt and into the foam mount below.

One the skirt was pinned to the mount all the way around, it was securely held in position for display.

Overskirt on mount

 Here it is in position in the mock-up of the new Cook-voyage case:

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Tongan Fishing Net

The Tongan fishing net collected by the Forsters is 8m long - too big to be displayed in its entirety.  We needed to find a way to display a part of it, while keeping most of it rolled.

When I first worked on the net, I sewed it to Tyvek, an inert non-woven fabric, so that it could be rolled for storage.  We hoped that by rolling the net and mounting the roll vertically, just the last 50cm or so of the net could be displayed, hiding the roll behind the case structure.

Chris and Al, the technicians working on the Cook-voyage re-display, made a tube for the net to be rolled around.  The indentation at the bottom was to accommodate the rocks, used as weights on the net.  The tube was made from inert polyethylene piping and zero-formaldehyde MDF, and was covered with synthetic felt.

The roll, covered with synthetic felt

The fishing net was unrolled, still attached to its Tyvek backing, and the backing was trimmed.

The fishing net unrolled in a Museum corridor

The backed net was rolled onto its new tube, leaving a short section free at the end.

The Tyvek backing was then sewn to the covering of the tube through all the layers to keep the net in place when it was mounted vertically.

This is the structure of the mock-up of the case, ready to receive the net:

The case structure ready for the mounted fishing net.  The ends of the roll will be held by the brackets at top and bottom.  The end of the net will feed through the slot and be mounted on a panel

The net was mounted in the case, and the end fed through the slot.

Feeding the end of the net through the slot in the case

The end of the net, once through the slot, was mounted on hooks which supported the rocks and the twigs used as floats.

The roll will be hidden by a panel once the display is complete