Fosshape Workshop

Today’s blog was written by Gwen Thomas, Collections Care Officer for The City of Edinburgh Council. It describes a recent training event at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre…

On Friday April 20th I was fortunate to be part of a group of 8 conservators attending the ICON Scotland Fosshape workshop at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The workshop was led by Glasgow Museums Textile Conservator Maggie Dobbie, who aimed to show us how flexible and versatile a material Fosshape can be in making temporary costume mounts.  She has used it with success in the past for making multiple costume mounts quickly and inexpensively, as well as being able to fashion it in a way that works for unusual objects that can’t be mounted on a standard form, such as bathing costumes.


Using Fosshape (Oddy tested, available in two thicknesses from Preservation Equipment Ltd), a sewing machine, steamer, and a form to act as a mould, we produced our own cap and torso mounts in the course of the day. While the Fosshape was easy to work with, it wasn’t always straightforward and we struggled to get our cap mounts off the head forms! Maggie’s own experience of using Fosshape and clear guidance were invaluable, and gave us all confidence to use this material and technique on our own in future. Delegates came from as far afield as Ireland, France and Belgium, from across a range of conservation disciplines. This led to interesting discussions about other objects that could be mounted using Fosshape, such as books, and how it could be adapted to produce different sizes of mounts from the forms being used as the mould.


We were lucky enough to have time at the end of the day to visit the conservation facilities at the Resource Centre, particularly the textile conservation studio. Here we learned about the team’s current project, stabilising a collection of tapestries prior to being hung again. Maggie’s team are using three large roller frames that can be collapsed and stored away once the project is complete, freeing up the studio space for more benches or forms as required.


Textile Conservation Studio at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

The day was a great opportunity to learn about using a material with which we had no previous experience; however we did get strange looks transporting our headless torsos en masse on the train from Nitshill! Many thanks to Maggie for sharing knowledge and advice with patience and good humour, to Emily Hick of the ICON Scotland committee for facilitating the day, and to my fellow delegates for their insights and support.


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