Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thing Twenty-Three: She Blinded Me With Science

I've been thinking for a while that I might like to learn restoration and conservation. Fabric is so ephemeral - cotton and linen are made from plants, wool is animal hair, silk is an animal protein, and with time all of them disintegrate. Sweat and oils from bodies accelerate that process. (Polyester lasts basically forever, but most really fine objects are made from natural fibers.) There are a few schools where they teach conservation. There's one in Glasgow that I would love to go to. I have the perfect background fabric-wise, and my Harvard degree should help quite a bit in getting me in, but I need to up my chemistry abilities to have a really solid application.

Organic Chemistry is my bĂȘte noire - I have, thus far, been simply unable to wrap my head around the shapes, the names, the tiny hydrocarbons that are so important for understanding how natural fibers interact with human secretions. I thought, many years ago, that I might be a doctor. Until I couldn't hack the orgo.

But the thing is - I was only eighteen, and I was ill, and dealing with my other classes, and I really wasn't giving it the attention that it really probably deserved.

And now, I have loads of time. Loads of time, and friends who are chemists. I think, with effort, I can make it happen. And if I do, I'll have a banging application to the University of Glasgow. And then I can devote my life to preserving the work of the seamstresses of the past.


  1. I happen to know someone who is OBSESSED with Orgo ;)

  2. I know. I'm counting on him helping.