This beaded bag from the 1920s is in the textile conservation lab for some stabilization where some of the beading threads were broken, but it presented a special challenge because the beads are amazingly tiny! Here are a cluster of them sticking to some micro-scissors. Usually, we look at bags like this and expect glass “seed beads.” However, the beads kept sticking to metal conservation instruments like this and a quick test with a refrigerator magnet confirmed it: these tiny beads are all metal! A patina has been used to give them their rich blue, silver, and copper colors. The finding of metal better explains their minuscule size (the beads’ walls can be thinner, resulting in a smaller bead overall) and the breakage of the beading threads (which are easily cut by the thin edges of the beads). This bag and others will be on display in Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom by Joseph Urban, opening July 8.
Beaded handbag, 1920s, France, metal, beads, silk; Gift of Mrs. Joseph Lutmer, 1968.484