Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Great Parasol Challenge

Umbrellas and parasols before repacking
Parasols and umbrellas before repacking

Over the last year, I have been working with two volunteers, Anne and Linda, to entirely repack our costume and textile collection.  This presented a huge challenge, previously there was no order to how the objects were packed - some boxes contained a quilt, a wedding dress, a victorian mourning gown, a pair of trainers and a top hat!

An early plan for parasol storage
One huge puzzle to us was what exactly to do with the parasols and umbrellas.  Previously they have been stored in an umbrella stand which had caused a few of them to deterioriate.  Space was a major consideration, so I was keen to use existing boxes on convert them into a suitable storage solution.

After consultation with the Scottish Conservation Studio at Hopetoun House, I came up with a plan which involved using plastazote to build supports inside acid free boxes. Another good resource for practical tips on packing parasols can be found here

So, on Tuesday the 9th October we set about putting this plan into action.  Thanks to all our careful preparation, the morning went exactly to plan, and the project has been a great success! First we built up two layers of plastazote.  We laid out the objects where we wanted them and drew outlines of them on the plastazote, and cut out the shape.  The umbrellas and parasols were then photographed and  wrapped loosely enough that they were not being forced closed, but tight enough to ensure that there was no strain being put on their spokes.  The wrappings also ensured that they don't touch eachother.  The ends were not sealed to ensure airflow into the interior.   Another two layers of plastazote were put on top, then a third on which we repated the process of drawing round the umbrellas and parasols.  You will notice that the boxes are not completely full to allow for the storage of some new parasols in the future. We do have some smaller and larger parasols, and some broken ones that will be packed into another box in a less standard arrangement.

All the parasols and umbrellas were photographed and await the addition of labels which will include their descriptions and photos, after which they should be safely stored for a longtime to come!

layer 1 pre-wrapping
layer 2 pre-wrapping
all wrapped up!
Here are the parasols / umbrellas with their labels on:
The plastazote was bought from PEL, and we used their Neutral PH Adhesive to glue the supports together. 


  1. Intriguing information on restoration...glad you are protecting these valuable and irreplacable treasures. I strongly approve, as a purveyor of modern parasols.

  2. Abba Patio 8.5' Round Parasol Patio Umbrella from Bizarkdeal

    This is a beautiful umbrella, so happy we purchased it. I love the color, it compliments our chocolate and gold coloring of our house. I would certainly recommend it to friends and family. I would buy one again if needed.

    NOTE: I received this product at a discount for sharing my unbiased experience.