New skin

Yesterday morning, we had the opportunity to go the upholstery shop and see the work that's been done so far on the Music Room center sofa. What a bustling shop! There was a car parked on one side; They were re-doing the seats. There was foam, fabrics, and other furniture awaiting new coverings. The sofa was sitting on the side with its top tufted in the Music room's buttery yellow color:

Sofa sitting in the shop, part-way upholstered.

Bob and Malia look through the trim.

This sofa is a period substitute. It was purchased with funds from Ms. Olivia De Jane. Although there are no known photographs of the Music Room or evidence that the original exists, researcher Deborah Kraak was able to get an idea of what it might have looked like.

The orignal bill-of-sale from A.H. Davenport & Co., Boston, which lists the furniture purchased for ‘Iolani Palace in 1881, shows the purchase of a “centerpiece” or center sofa for the Music Room at a cost of $176. By comparing this with the higher priced Throne Room center sofa ($275), whose style we can see in historic photographs, one can infer that the Music Room sofa was considerably simpler. [Bill-of-Sale courtesy of the Hawaii State Archives]

[Image of Keoua Hale provided by Hawaiian Historical Society.]

An example of what a simple center sofa might look like is found in a photograph of Princess Ruth Keliiokalani’s home, taken circa 1883. The sofa can be seen in the mid-ground, pretty much at the center of the photo. It is lifted off the floor with turned wood legs which happen to be similar in style to the Davenport furniture ordered in 1881. The legs and lower back also give the sofa a lighter more intimate feel, which seems suitable for the private apartments.

Here is a drawing of a sofa similar to the one in Princess Ruth's home from the Pictorial Dictionary of British 19th century furniture design. These ideas were kept in mind while locating the substitute.



Remember the tusk table we acquired last December and the matching tusk we received shortly thereafter? Now they're together again.

The two tusks and their koa table/stand were re-configured to their 19th century appearance by Furniture Conservator Mark Harpainter. He was here in Hawaii last week to do conservation treatment on a number of artifacts which will be put in the Music Room. He was aided by Mike Jones of Art Services who made the mount for the second tusk. Martin & MacArthur also helped, donating scraps of koa and allowing Mark to use the their woodshop to make plugs to fill the old screw holes.

The tusks & the table.

Filling the old holes with koa plugs.

Drilling the holes to mount the tusks.

In-painting the tusk, where marks were left from the old mounting.

The completed table. It stands over 5 feet tall.

The table was custom made and presented to King Kalākaua by Premier Walter Murray Gibson on the occasion of his 50th birthday Jubilee, November 16, 1886.

An 1886 newspaper article in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser describes the two tusks as decorated with silver bands and a silver plaque which hung between the two tusks. The plaque reportedly read “His Majesty King Kalakaua, born November 16, 1836, ascended throne of Hawaii February 12, 1874. In commemoration of the fiftieth birthday of His Majesty.” And on the reverse “The Horns of the Righteous Shall be Exalted.”

The table with only one tusk later appears in historic photographs of Pualeilani, the home of Queen Kapi‘olani and afterward Prince Kūhio. It is not known when the pair of tusks and their silver decoration was separated. The table will be exhibited without the silver plaque which has not been acquired.

Treatment of the tusk table was sponsored by the Dolores Furtado Martin Foundation.


Transformations: 40+ years of restoration at 'Iolani Palace

There was a slow down with signage, but the new temporary exhibit is now complete. Come to the Palace and check out Restoring 'Iolani Palace, a small collection of objects and images which illustrate building restoration, interior refurnishing, and artifact conservation that began in the 1960s and continues today.

There's something magical about seeing "before" and "after." Seeing the transformation, what goes on behind the scenes, is eye-opening. This exhibit shows a little of both.

Here are some of the photographs i thought were most interesting (not all are in the exhibit):


Mauka facade

Upper Hall


Not quite sure what's happening but looks like full on construction zone--
dusty with a pile of bricks

Awesome jacket! George Ariyoshi was Governor during building restoration.

Look at the construction of this arch! (I think its a door.) I never imagined the frame as separate from the building.

Just like the door frames, I hadn't thought of the wall paneling as separate. Think of all that wood that was refurbished and reworked! Much of it was badly termite eaten. In this photo you can see the base brick construction after the paneling is removed and wood floors being installed.

Teamwork! Workmen carry a completed wood flagpole across the grounds.

The Restoration Exhibit takes the place of the Ancient Regalia Exhibit. Featherwork and other sensitive ethnographic artifacts have been removed in preparation for renovations to the air conditioning system.


The gold room project is chug-chug-chugging along...

Celia finished the draperies at the end of July as planned. They look richly wonderful! We will wait to hang them in the music room until we unveil the entire room (hopefully in November). I think the picture below is the best captured. You can really see the color...gold in the light of dusk. I took this the evening the first few drapes were entirely completed, we stayed late to see the final product-- Celia completing the sewing, Stuart ironing, and Malia figuring out the logistics of hanging. That afternoon, I sewed the lining onto a whole panel! It may have taken me slightly longer than it did the seasoned quilt guild volunteers, but getting in there and doing it was an opportunity.

Me and Emily, our summer intern also had fun putting in the hardware for the draperies. Look at her face:

The installation was almost as successful as the crazed awl-wielding madwoman pose. We put small hooks at the top of the window frame to secure the top edge of the drapes and put slightly bigger hooks at the center of the frame for holding the drapery tie-backs to the wall. This was Em's last project before we bid au revior as she went back to college on the mainland.

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Over on the East Coast, J. R. Burrows & Company have been assisting us in finalizing the design for the reproduction Music Room carpet. This will be a large central carpet, as in the restored Blue Room or State Dining Room. No pieces of the Music Room carpet are known to exist, but we do have this and a couple other post-monarchy photographs which show what the carpet looked like.

To create a carpet most like the original 1882 carpet, Mr. Burrows and his designers, as well as our textile consultant Ms. Deborah Kraak, studied the historic Music Room photographs in detail, looked through numerous period carpet samples, and referenced similar Japanese floral designs found on pottery, in paintings, and on textiles. Here are a few of the things they have looked at:

We recently received three wool "hand trials," the one on the far left was the first "draft."

The main gold and brown tones were picked up from the colors of the original gold room tie-back in our collection. The blue and red/rose accent colors were chosen to reflect carpet styles of the early 1880s.

Here is a detail of that same historic photograph from above (the area which includes the foot of the man closest to the camera and the wastebasket) with the final design (in the picture above of the 3 hand trials in a row it is the center one) directly below it.

The photograph really does not do the carpet piece justice, as the sheen from the Wilton cut-pile wool weave, does not come through. Even so, imagine how the room will look when it is pau!


Drum roll please.....

The moment of truth.... the first finished curtain was hung this afternoon! Here is a photo of it in the music room corner tower.

Tomorrow we'll be working on hemming/putting the pleats in. Hopefully they'll be completed in a few days!


Examining the layers

Yesterday morning, I sat in the drapery workshop and talked to Celia while she began to line the draperies. The "surface," so to speak, of the drapes is almost finished---meaning the panels have been cut and sewn to size and the velvet borders hand-stitched onto them. Lining, is the next step.

When they are completed the drapes will have four layers: The main show fabric (1), the "velvet" border (0), the interlining (2), and the lining(3). Celia told me a little bit about each fabric. Hopefully I've gotten it all right.

(0) The dark gold border -- COTTON VELVETEEN

Unbeknownst to me, velvet is not a type of fiber, but a weave.
Most simply, threads are woven together to create a cloth with loops (kind of like terry cloth), then the loops are cut and the remaining sticky-up threads create a low pile, giving the fabric its soft richness. Most often velvet is made with silk. The fabric being used for the Gold Room draperies is velveteen. Velveteen is made of cotton fibers and has a slightly different weave than velvet. It is less costly and easier to take care of.

Velveteen weave:

This close-up image of a thread pulled from the dark gold velveteen shows the pile created by little tufts of thread.

(1) The buttery gold show fabric

(The official color-name is "Old Gold," but Celia referred to it as "buttery gold" and that sounds more like it looks--light and shimmery.)

The term "Worsted" is derived from the village of Worstead in England, which was a center for the manufacture of worsted cloth in the 12th century. This light weight cloth would've been standard goods in the 1880s for dresses and interiors. It has a fine close weave, which is achievable with long, fine wool fibers. Certain sheep, like the corriedale sheep over there --->, are bred to have such fleece.

Sateen means the fabric has a satin-like finish. This sheen is obtained through a manufacturing process called calendering in which the cloth is passed at high pressure through heated metal rollers.

Celia suspects that in the 1880s, when Kalakaua ordered his drapes from the Davenport Company in Boston, Massachusetts the fabric would've been woven in Northeast. However, woolen mills are no longer commonplace in the United States. Our fabric was made in Switzerland.

(3) Lining -- COTTON SATEEN
The lining which backs the drape, supports the drapery and protects it from harsh sunlight coming in the window.

(2) Interlining -- COTTON FLANNEL

The interlining which goes between the outer fabric and the lining does pretty much the same thing as the lining with more oomph. It provides bulk (helps make richer pleats/give more shape to the curtains), makes the drapery less see-through, and provides insulation for the building when the drapes are closed (in Hawai'i this keeps out the heat, in most other places it keeps cold out in the winter).

With all of the layers, the drapes become quite heavy. Celia was carrying one panel around draped across her arms and referred to it jokingly as "dead bodies." This is why you can see, in the photo of Nora hanging the drapes, Malia and Celia are supporting the fabric from below.


A bit more on our textile specialist, Celia Oliver

Today our Summer Intern/Guest Blogger, Emily Gelber, checked out the Drapery Workshop and talked to Celia Oliver. From her:

The drapery workshop has been especially lively today due to the handful of volunteers from the Hawaii Quilt Guild that have joined Celia Oliver in sewing the drapes that are to be hung in the Music Room this fall. Though all of the women were sewing, folding and stitching at a rapid pace, I was able to chat with Celia about her background in the textile field and more specifically, the Iolani Palace drapery project that has been taking place since early June 2010.

From L to R: Ellen Owens, Celia Oliver, Charlene Hughes and Ann Russell

Though Celia has been sewing since she was 8 years old and weaving since she was 20 years old, she began to combine her hands-on talent with the historical aspect of drapery reproduction work when she served as curator at the Shelburne museum in Vermont. There, she became involved in many furnishing projects and began to work seriously on reproduction bed hangings and curtains. Celia became involved with the Gold Room restoration project through Deborah Kraak, head researcher for the restoration project. Deborah had been familiar with Celia's work and in 2007 asked her to collaborate on the Textile Refurnishing Project. At first it seemed that Celia would complete the project in Vermont, where she lives, and that the finished drapes would be then shipped to the Palace. But as Celia became concerned about the acclimatization of the fabric (the fabric's vulnerability to absorbing moisture in more humid environments), the museum decided that it would be best if the project was completed in Hawaii. That way, if the wool and the lining reacted differently to Hawaii's unique climate, Celia would be able to make the necessary adjustments rather than find herself in a pickle after the drapes were being displayed. Because the fabric is so precious, details such as these need to be considered and discussed with the curatorial staff at the Palace.

Though the project requires detailed logistical planning due to the sheer size of the drapes, Celia has not encountered any major difficulties throughout the project. She has enjoyed working before the public and is extremely grateful to the volunteers who are not only crucial in sewing the velvet bands on the 18 panels, but also in providing her with good company (like the volunteers from the Hawaii Quilt guild who have inspired her to pick up a new hobby- Hawaiian quilting!) Celia has been able to travel to Kauai to hike, snorkel and swim and is looking forward to visiting the Honolulu Botanical Garden. Celia will return to do the the King's room and the Queen's room at the Palace.