Remember that post about lead in silk I wrote ever so long ago? Well, it came in handy this week. Seeking to finish (at long last) my Bachelor’s degree, I’ve applied at Mills College here in the Bay Area. The application gave me the option of submitting graded work from my previous college (none of which I could find as I’d thrown it all in the recycling bin ages ago) instead of the usual trite personal biography.
It took me all of three seconds to decide on leaded silk. I already had some basic research done, a page of notes and links, and a few hours to myself to put together the 300-500 words required. Easy peasy. What I found was that there is a lot more to the history of impregnating our clothing with heavy metals than I’d thought. When you consider that our ancestors ate, slept and worked surrounded by lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals, it’s amazing we survived this long as a species.
I will post more on the subject after I hear back from the college about my (hopeful) admission. Until then, I will continue to dig around and see what else I can learn on the subject. Living in a textile-rich region means I have more opportunities to turn this into a serious research project at some point. If I stay in the field of vintage textile preservation and restoration, it would seem fairly practical to know the risks involved in what I’m handling.