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  • Writer's picturevanwitt

Band Boxes

It's not just fine art paintings that require conservation. We recently had the chance to work on a set of vintage band boxes for the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles, Missouri. First of all, what is a band box? Bandboxes were functional pieces used to store and transport apparel and accessories. They were often handmade from scraps of wallpaper and newspaper, which in addition to being cheap, lightweight, and sturdy, also helped remind the travelers of home.

The band boxes we treated had experienced years of exposure, leaving them deformed and faded. Our first goal was to reinforce the structure, to ensure they'd be fit for public display. Next, we focused on reinvigorating the faded colors and restoring the design. At the time these were crafted, wallpaper was typically hand-stamped and had natural variations as a result, so we had to be careful to maintain that handcrafted appearance during our restoration.

The completed band boxes still retain their vintage charm, but are now much sturdier and truer to their original appearance. Often, our goal isn't to erase the marks of age entirely, but to offer a glimpse of the piece's condition when it was first created, while allowing the natural aging process to become a part of the art.

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