By Lisa Little, Curatorial Assistant (Costume & Textiles), Norfolk Museums Service, and SHARE Costume & Textile Network Co-ordinator 2014-15

On May 14th, the SHARE Costume & Textile Network travelled to the museum stores in Southend for a masterclass in making buckram mounts with Ciara Phipps, Touring Exhibition Co-ordinator with Southend Museums.

After a behind the scenes tour of radios, fireplaces and archaeology, among many other lovely social history objects, we were given a methodology report from Ciara.

Ciara and her colleagues have been super busy making buckram supports for the swimwear exhibition which they are currently working on. We were able to see a whole line-up of mounts in true ”here is one I prepared earlier’  Blue Peter style.

These were already made from scratch by Ciara and her colleagues and a production line was dry awaiting a soft covering of wadding and cotton jersey.

There was also one in prepped in clingfilm in readiness for us collectively to help with and so, under Ciara’s direction, we all donned plastic aprons and gloves and dipped our hands into a pan of warm wheat paste. Ciara instructed us in the best method of spreading the glue over the squares of buckram before we placed them onto the body form. Ciara Canning, Senior Curator of Community History with Colchester + Ipswich Museums, was so very prepared for messiness she brought her own coverall in anticipation! We made swift progress and we were quickly able to cover a layer all around the prepared body form. The result was remarkable, it dries to a firm shell which can be cut with tin-snips to the exact silhouette of the swimwear, or indeed to any bespoke shapes one would require.

We were so very impressed with the production line we saw, I can’t wait to see the fabric covered end product of bathing beauties on display.

Find out more about buckram mounts in this blog from Ciara for Southend Museums.

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