In the summer of 2010, the Volunteers of History Colorado awarded the Collections Management and Registration Department a small grant in order to buy cleaning and fabric supplies for our saddle collection. The project was initially divided into two phases: first, to clean the saddles using sound conservation practices; and second, to sew muslin slipcovers for each saddle to prevent further buildup of dust and grime.
In contrast to standard care for saddles in use, saddle soap and leather treatments are not recommended for long-term preservation of saddles that are not being used. These materials eventually crystallize and/or leach out of the leather. After consulting with a professional conservator, we chose to use basic brushes and sponges to lightly remove layers of dust and grime.
Enthusiastic volunteers began cleaning the saddles and creating slipcovers. Volunteers measured and studied several saddles and created a one-size-fits-all pattern for the slipcovers. Several volunteers helped wash the fabric, cut out the pattern pieces, and sew the slipcovers. During the process, the saddles were also photographed and recataloged.
Melissa De Bie, Registrar
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Contact the Library
Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center
History Colorado Center
Denver, CO 80203