Tracing paper restoration, berliner style

(castellano / català)

Hildegard Homuger Course

Danila Narcisi, Anna Lagerqvist, Ségolène Walle (left to right) and Hildegard Homburger (bottom) at the course, at her studio.

I never enjoy anything as much as visiting other paper restoration studios, especially if they are private. Private studios usually bear the imprint of a personal vocation, of a step by step evolution, and this confers in them a personality which is barely present in institutional conservation studios, certainly to such an extent. This time, besides the visit, there is a journey, a restoration course and the encounter with friend restorers… What else could I ask for?

I am in Berlin, at Hildegard Homburger’s two day course on tracing paper conservation. This paper is a real challenge for restorers because it expands and shrinks in apparently unpredictable ways and its transparency greatly highlights any folds and tears. But tracing paper has no secrets for Hildegard: she understands it from its manufacturing process to the peculiarities of its restoration. She has been a world expert on the subject for years, and to see her working in situ is a true privilege.

Edith Greuter dyeing tracing paper with cationic dyes.

First she grounds us with theory, and then leaves us astonished during the practical session. Timing and organization honour all things about German efficiency, and yet her relaxed and friendly manners brought us the best of experiences sharing thoughts and tips.

And back to my fondness, the studio: It is a second floor flat in a building of the 40’s. The ceilings are high, with beautiful sgraffito decoration. The door handles, the tiles… the most exquisite German design peeps out discreetly from every spot. And what can I say about her collection of irons? Hildegard has a collection of ancient irons that I envy so much! And the detail of the “dark” table? Instead of the classic light-table, black glass allows you to clearly see every tear and gap in the rebel tracing papers. I watch the space distribution, the tools, the jars…  Is there a better way to nose around than becoming a Berliner restorer for two days?

Louise Walsworth-Bell infilling a gap with tracing paper over a black background.

S. Walle, L. Walsworth-Bell, H. Homburger (left to right) during the practical restoration session.

Ancient irons used as weights.

A. Lagerqvist mending tears with hot spatula and sturgeon glue.






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Post dedicated to my beloved friend Louise, with whom I share laughs, thougths, journeys and our profession… and who corrected the english version of this post! 🙂

Related posts:

New restoration methodolgy to retrieve lost flexibility to brittle tracing papers  Touch and “my crumpled ADLAN tracing papers”

21 thoughts on “Tracing paper restoration, berliner style

  1. Sounds like a wonderful way to learn!

    I fondly remember working on tracing paper plans in England in the 1970s. We would sometimes shake dozens of little brittle pieces out of an envelope and reassemble them dry to identify what we were working on.

    Keep up the posts!


  2. This was a nice surprise to see in the LinkedIn post in my inbox. I took her workshop several years ago in Iowa. It was a terrific course and I was happy to get to use these “new” techniques when tracing papers came into the lab.

  3. I am not a paper conservator but thoroughly enjoyed your insight into an intriguing and fascinating-sounding world. Thank you Rita!

  4. Thanks for the new information that we love to learn and practice. We would be happy and love to study and apprentice with you on your studio. Muchos gracias Rita.



  5. Thank you for this post,

    I almost felt that I was in this exquisite private studio, with so many wonderful .. Imprints, all testaments to Hildergards expertise and passion.
    I loved the concept of using ancient irons as weights ..!!
    Unlikely to be found in any institutional studio.

    With regards

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