Spot Removal Experiments, Part 0

January 22, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Posted in spot removal | Leave a comment

DSCN1386Step Zero of Spot Removal: making the stains we’ll endeavor to remove.

Most of the stain recipes I’ll be looking at simply state that the recipe will remove “spots”, but there are a few that note a particular type of spot including: wine, oil, grease, dirt, and wax. I want to be able to compare the various recipes to one another, whether the recipe was specifically intended for that type of stain or not, so I have stained all of my samples with the same stains. I realized after I had stained a set of five of each type of cloth that when I grabbed a candle for wax, I didn’t think it through and used the random candle I had laying around, made of paraffin. I’m going to go back and re-do that stain with beeswax some time in the next week or so.

Even though none of the recipes I’ve found so far have mentioned blood, I included it as a stain type because whenever I bring this project up with other people, they immediately ask me about getting blood out of fabrics, so I may as well assuage everyone’s curiosity. (And with that curiosity in mind: I got the blood for most of the fabric by pricking my finger repeatedly with the sort of disposable lancets diabetics use to test their blood. The wool samples have an especially large blood sample because my roommate cut his finger and offered to bleed on my prepared swatches.)

It is surprisingly hard to stain some materials, as I learned in my first attempt at these stains. To facilitate the process I wet each of the cloths lightly, and then applied enough of the staining material until it bled through to the other side of the cloth. The blood was spread less thickly and did not always make it through to the other side, but since my finger was sore, I determined it was probably enough to prove the effectiveness of the stain remover.

Some of the recipes are for particular types of fabric, others say “for all sorts of cloth”, and others don’t mention a fabric type at all. I intend to try the recipes on all the cloth choices. This is partly just for pure curiosity’s sake, but I also wonder if some of the recipes are suggested because they work particularly well for certain types of cloth and not at all for others, or if the authors simply had that particular kind at the forefront of their mind. In any case I have stained four types of fabric: linen, wool, silk, and cotton. Cotton, particularly the sort of t-shirt cotton I’m using here, would not have been widely used as a garment material in period, but when I was at Artifacts of a Life a very large percentage of the conversations I had with people ended with “and would any of this get stains out of my t-shirts?” So now I’ll be able to answer them.



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