• top frame 
  • Photograph of conservator Ada Hopkins colour matching silk thread to the thread used on a jin lian, a Chinese lotus shoe for bound feet, before conservation treatment.
  • Magnifying Glass

Conservator Ada Hopkins colour matching silk thread to the thread used on a jin lian, a Chinese lotus shoe for bound feet, before conservation treatment.
Photograph by Stephanie Draker
© Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

Materials

Museum artefacts can be fabricated out of a number of different materials, and footwear is no exception. Different materials call for unique treatment and storage requirements in order to prolong the life of the artefact. Humidity levels, temperature and chemical off-gassing can accelerate the deterioration, sometimes to the point of being irreversible. For instance, sulphur compounds present in the air will eventually turn the surface of a silver object black, as anyone with tarnished silver tableware has experienced. The conservator must also have an acute understanding of the material and techniques used when doing conservation treatment on artefacts for display, in order to take the least destructive approach. The Persian riding shoes, for example, arrived at the Museum with losses of skin on the vamps and the quarters. In order to stabilize them for display, infills had to be created from a material that would not be visually distracting. This was done by wetting a thick Japanese paper colour-matched with acrylic paints and allowing it to air dry. Then the green ‘skin' was wetted again and mustard seeds were pressed into the paper, weighted and allowed to dry. The end result was a paper with a similar colour and look as the shagreen.