I have a couple of intricately beaded African ceremonial sashes, ca. 1960, that need cleaning (desperately! profoundly!), but I can't afford professional art restoration at this time, and don't trust non-specialists to clean them. Can I (should I?) try to do something (anything?) on my own?
Based on my web searches, I believe they are Yoruba, and based on what the guy who sold them to me told me, I believe they are from the '60s. They look like this
, except more intricate - more like the work here
, on a canvas-like backing, except thinner. The backing and the thread, from what I can tell, both appear to be cotton, and quite delicate because of age...
They weren't in great condition when I bought them around 15 years ago, and now they really, really need cleaning. Can I give them a plain water bath in my bathtub and dry them on towels out of direct sunlight? Or anything else? I would rather donate them to a museum than ruin them - but I'd much rather keep them... and I don't even know of a museum here that would be interested.
If necessary, I'll just leave them alone, but they really do need some kind of cleaning, and I'm not at all the type to expect antiques to be pristine, so I'm not talking about trying to get out every stain (on the canvas backing)... but they've probably never been cleaned (not, at least, while I've had them), and they are way past due. I'd love to hear from anyone who has specific knowledge of vintage textiles or who has dealt with a similar situation.