by Ciara Canning, Senior Curator (Community History), Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service

On November 25th 2013, members of the SHARE costume and textile network led a hands-on training day on mounting costume accessories at Hollytrees Museum, Colchester.

Twelve participants had the opportunity to learn and apply practical skills by assessing, cleaning and creating custom-made supports for a range of different costume accessories. Participants learnt tips and techniques to safely and creatively display every type of accessory – from shoes, hats, handbags, parasols, jewellery, fans and even a wig!

Before mass manufacturing, clothes were made to fit individual people. This means that each historic item is different and requires a unique structure to safely support its shape while on display. The fragile nature of costume and textiles means it takes time and expertise to create mounts and prepare it for display.

The unique aspect of this training day was that the participants were able to apply the techniques they learnt to a real life exhibition scenario. All the mounts created during the training day were used to display accessories in the new temporary exhibition at Hollytrees – Accessorise All Areas.

Accessorise All Areas is on display at Hollytrees Museum, Colchester until May 31st, 2014, 10- 5pm Tuesday – Sunday.

We had some great feedback from the participants too – here are a few comments from them:

“Brilliant trainers and had so much fun and feel very proud!”

“Hands-on training gave me more confidence to clean and display items.”

“Really good to carry out so much practical – it’s a great way to learn and actually remember it!”

All the participants were given a camera to document their progress. Below is a selection of images taken on the day (click to view full size):

For more information on the Costume & Textile Network, please contact Veronica Main, network co-ordinator.

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