Basketry Repairs in Conservation
Image 1: Japanese tissue paper, rolled into "stitch-shaped" Frankenstein mends, prior to application
Image 2: Wheat starch paste, prior to straining for use
Image 3: Shows the two tears repaired using Frankenstein mends on the interior of the Salish basket
Basketry repairs, commonly called “Frankenstein mends,” involve the application of a supportive element perpendicular to a tear. Generally, the mends are made of small pieces of rolled up Japanese tissue paper, a thin material made of plant fibers (Image 1). While Japanese tissue paper is white, mends that are present or visible on the external surface of the basket may be toned with paint to match the basket surface, while those on the interior are often untoned so that they can be easily identified.
Adhesives Commonly Used for Basketry Repairs
Basketry repairs are often adhered with wheat starch paste or
methylcellulose. These natural polymer pastes are used because they
have an organic, cellulosic structure that is very similar to and
compatible with basketry materials (Image 2). If these pastes
do not have strong enough tack, polyvinyl acetate emulsions may also be
used, although these are not as easily reversible.
Repairs on a Salish Basket
For the Salish basket from the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum collections, Frankenstein mends were applied to the damaged corners and the torn right side of the basket. Japanese tissue paper was adhered with a mixture of wheat starch paste and methylcellulose in a 1:1 ratio in deionized water. Mends were left untoned for easy identification of the repairs.