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Adaptation of Standard Matting Folders


The use of folders for textiles has evolved from matting techniques used by paper conservators for the care of prints and drawings (See Smith, “Matting and Hinging Flat Paper Objects”, this volume ). In this system, also called “study mounts”, small textiles and textile fragments are stored safely. They can be examined without handling, and both surfaces of the textile may be easily viewed by opening the folder from the front or back.


Virginia Greene
The University Museum of
Archaeology and Anthropology
33rd and Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
Tel (215) 898-4018
Fax (215) 898-0657

Illustrations: Virginia Greene

Publication: 1992


The folder consists of a backboard with an attached window mat (sink mat) and a cover, which are hinged together to enclose and protect the textile. This folder was used first at the Peabody Museum for archaeological textiles (Piechota, 1978). The folder was made of 4ply pH neutral rag board, hinged with linen tape, and the interior of both the backboard and the lid were lined with muslin. Several variations of this folder can be easily constructed and used for a variety of objects. One example is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. Folder and window mat shown open.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • 100% cotton twill tape
  • Adhesive transfer tape
  • Cotton jersey
  • Cotton muslin
  • Crosslinked polyethylene foam, electron irradiated
  • Double-coated tape
  • Glue gun
  • Lightweight, open plain weave polyester fabric or lightweight, open plain weave silk fabric
  • Nylon hook and loop closures
  • pH neutral foam-core board
  • Polyester quilt batting
  • Polyethylene foam sheeting
  • Silicone-coated polyester film
  • Spunbonded olefin tape with acrylic adhesive
  • Web adhesive (polyester, without plasticizers)


Folders for very fragile pieces

Textile fragments that need permanent support but cannot, or should not be sewn or adhered to a backing can be mounted in a double-window mat between two layers of lightweight, open plain-weave silk or polyester (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. top, object held in place between two layers of open weave fabric in a double-window mat. 
               bottom, Cross section of double-window mat.

This folder may be permanently hinged between a cover and backboard (Smith, 1981). The mount also can be inserted into a regular folder with a sink mat the same thickness as the mount, and fingerholes cut on the inner edge of the mat (Figs. 1, 3).

Figure 3. Cross section of folder and window mat.

A hinged, double-window mat folder can be used for permanent storage of double-sided papyrus fragments or similar materials that have been encapsulated in polyester film. Single-sided encapsulated fragments can be mounted in a regular window mat folder (Smith, 1981).

Folders for small, relatively flat objects able to withstand gentle pressure

A padded variation of the folder can be used for pressure packing objects, such as small textiles, beadwork, and other small flat objects that are able to withstand gentle pressure (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Double-padded folder.

This folder can be used both for storage and for transport. Each side of the folder has a window mat. The area inside the window is covered with a layer of polyester padding covered with muslin or cotton jersey (Fig. 5).

Figure 5. Cross section of double-padded folder.

The folder is held closed with a small tab made of spun-bonded olefin tape with acrylic adhesive partially folded on itself and a hook and loop closure This folder can be opened from the front or the back.

Folders for thicker objects

A recessed folder with a padded cover can be constructed for slightly thicker objects such as an Egyptian necklace of faience beads and plaques. The center of the window is lined with polyethylene foam sheeting or fabric, depending on the amount of padding needed. A piece of 3/8in crosslinked polyethylene foam is cut out to the shape of the object and placed on top of the padding (Fig. 6).


Figure 6. Cross section of recessed folder with padded cover.

A cover of unpadded board can be used for storage, or a padded cover fastened with a hook and loop closure can be used for shipping (Figs. 7, 8).

Figure 7. Recessed folder with padded cover.

Figure 8. Tab with hook and loop fastener.

This type of folder does not require a complete window mat. A border along the inner edge is necessary because the hinging tape will not stick to the crosslinked polyethylene foam.

Folders for shadow puppets

Folders without a muslin lining can be used for the storage of shadow puppets. For puppets that exude sticky substances, the folders can be lined with a piece of silicone-coated polyester film. For Indonesian painted shadow puppets, the folder can be lined with polyethylene foam sheeting. The puppet is held in place at the sticks with small restraining tabs made of spun-bonded olefin tape with acrylic adhesive, or twill tape. One end of the tab is passed through the polyethylene foam sheeting and secured to the bottom before the lining is put in the folder. The other end of the tab has a hook and loop closure. One tab per stick will usually hold the puppet securely.


Larger folders can be constructed if a more rigid material such as chemically inert extruded polystyrene foam, laminated between two sheets of buffered paper is used, instead of rag board. Folders can be made as large as 20in x 26in with 1in borders on the window, if an 1/8in thick board is used. For folders 30in x 36in, or larger, with 11/2 – 2in borders, 3/16in thick boards should be used. The depth of the mount can be increased by using a double or triple thickness for the window mat. If large numbers of folders are to be made, the purchase of a heavy-duty mat cutter is recommended.

To adhere materials to the muslin lining, two types of web adhesive, polyamide and polyester, are now available. Both can be used on the foam-core board, but the reverse of the board must also be ironed briefly to prevent the board from cupping.

The window mat may be attached to the backboard with archival double-sided tape, or adhesive transfer tape without a carrier strip. Both are cleaner and more simple to use than liquid adhesives and reduce the risk of over-wetting and distorting the board.

The folders can be hinged with pressure-sensitive spunbonded olefin tape with acrylic adhesive. The tape is easier to use than gummed linen tape and has a carrier strip that can be cut to size before the adhesive is exposed.

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