removing iron mould from old lace
by Val Tierney
Are commercial iron mould/rust removers too severe for use on delicate old lace and would they bleach the ivory colour of the lace too much? Have you any suggestions?
I have asked a lady who used to be a conservator and has her own collection of antique lace for advice on this one for you.
She told me that the brown spots could be iron mould but that there are a number of other stains that can mimic its appearance.
If you are happy to tackle the stain removal job yourself she gave me the following method. Otherwise you could contact your local auction house to find out who they would recommend as a local conservator.
What you will need is a real lemon (not bottled juice), some distilled water and an old net curtain.
Squeeze the juice out of the lemon and place in a saucer. Prepare your drying area by stretching an old net curtain across your bath, weighting it down on the sides. OK, let's get started.
Work on a corner or inconspicuous area of the lace first. Lay this stained test area into the saucer of lemon juice and leave it submerged for no longer than 10 minutes. The stain should start to reduce.
If nothing happens then the method isn't going to work and the piece needs expert attention.
After 10 minutes remove the lace from the lemon juice and rinse thoroughly with cold, distilled water (the type you would put into an iron or car engine). If the stain has reduced you can repeat the soaking and rinsing again.
When you are finished lay the lace on top of the net curtain above your bath to dry flat. Do not apply any type of heat to the lace!
My source is happy to talk to you direct if you would like to ask her any further questions. Please use the contact form on this website to email me and I will give you her name and phone number, she lives in the UK and, in fact, was brought up in Hampshire!