I have been looking for examples of application of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to the study of basketry and it came in today: this blog by Dinah Eastop at The National Archives has an RTI image of a straw hat.

From my experience of working with basketry collections (mainly at the NMAI and EBC/Kew), basketry is often difficult to photograph, especially when the aim is to share the collection remotely with contemporary basketry makers who are interested in the details of construction (starting point, base, turning points, rim, sides, weave etc etc etc), and the basket’s original function.

The object’s condition can be used to interpret the life of the artefact prior to entering museum, with basketry this aspect is often overlooked. This is when a hat gets displayed as a bag upside down, or when a used and functional basket is misinterpreted as a newly made tourist souvenir.

Are there any applications of RTI to the study of evidence of wear and tear with basketry or garments?

I look forward to the updates on this project from The National Archives.

UPDATE 6/5/13: Part three of Dinah’s blog, focused on ‘plaiting’, demonstrates the applicability of RTI to the study of textile structures that are seemingly flat.

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