Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Plastics Spotting - in the most unexpected places. Part II

I recently visited Hampton Court Palace with no expectations of finding any plastics in this historical gem. Once again, how wrong was I! On display in the Georgian rooms were these magnificent costumes, designed to depict real life characters from the court of the Prince and Princess of Wales, George and Caroline, during their summer season of 1716. 

Figures depicting Prince and Princess of Wales, George and Caroline.


On close inspection, they appear to have been made from paper, but the material used is actually Tyvek®, spun bonded high-density polyethylene olefin fibres. It is a conservation material we are quite familiar with here at MoDiP as it is what we use to make protective covers for our objects. I was quite surprised to find it being used in such an interesting and innovative way. Apparently the costume experts at Hampton Court experimented with many different types of fabric, but found Tyvek® to be an ideal choice particularly for representing the intricate details characteristic of the clothing from this period. 

Tyvek® used to depict historic dress.

They are truly stunning to see and I could almost imagine the figures coming to life, gossiping in the corners of the rooms. You can find out more about the ‘Secrets of the Bedchamber’ installation here: http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/stories/palacehighlights/Secretsoftheroyalbedchamber/costumes

Katherine Pell (MoDiP Administrator)

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