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Conservation Treatment of the Ormerod Bedcover

One of the Museum’s most significant printed textiles, a bedcover printed in 1752 by George Ormerod of Wallington, Surrey, is one of the only surviving examples of English block printing for which the printer’s name is recorded. Dedicated to John Vandermersch, an East India merchant, the bedcover in layout and design derives from Indian painted hangings made for the European market. It is a rare testament to the success with which English calico printers were able to duplicate the best Indian block printing in color and quality of drawing. The design of the bedcover includes Vandermersch’s coat-of-arms, Orientalized figures with bows, lions, and elephants, among other figures.

The bedcover was extremely fragile with numerous losses. It arrived at the Museum stitched to a linen backing, which had caused further damage. The light color of the linen was visually disturbing and interrupted the viewer’s experience of the bed cover. A new support was prepared by painting the areas of loss onto new fabric using textile paints, and the bedcover was then sandwiched between the new support and a layer of sheer fabric. The “sandwich” was stitched together, passing the needle and thread through the areas of loss so that no new holes were placed in the bedcover.

This treatment was funded in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.