Hold on and suck in, Miss Scarlett!
Removing a plastic corset from a manuscript

A personal story, a historic manuscript, a crazy laminating machine and a final outcome. We’ll discuss about synthetic polymers, sorts of laminations and encapsulation. All these ingredients are seasoned with PFTE, TFA, HFIP, PE, DMSO, PET… cling, dong and BOOM!… An explosive -but most irresistible- cocktail. Continue reading

The diplomatic neutral colour

What is a neutral colour?
Is it a pH=7 colour? A transparent colour? Greenish… brown? An oil colour… or maybe acrylic?
Conservators mean by it: “I will paint the missing area with a single colour which you won’t see much”. It can be green, purple, pencil coloured or either with acrylic paints… Controversial is on the cards and whatever we do, even when not doing anything at all, conservators know that our decision will not suit everyone’s taste. Continue reading

Course: Inpainting & Loss Compensation on Paper (2016)

Can you match the colour but not the surface texture? Can you match the surface sheen but not the colour? Do you struggle with both? Do you never know what dyes to use? If you want to acquire a wider a range of inpainting techniques, this is your course. Held by knowledgeable professionals, it goes deeper into the tools, materials, techniques and tricks. The goal is to infill and in-paint the most challenging losses with confidence and success. Continue reading

Mysterious iron rods in a 16th limp vellum binding

No one would say that Esther feels burdened by the case she is working on: removing an old repair that was deforming some parchment manuscripts. And besides her patient attitude I can’t agree more with her when she says that … Continue reading

Conservation of ‘The Disasters of War’, by Goya

There are all sorts of projects, and when Mr. Goya knocks at the door, the red carpet is ready to receive him at the studio: Please, come in!
The Disasters of War by Francisco Goya arrived at the studio in a fairly intact condition, with its 80 etchings, corresponding to the very first edition (in later editions two more etchings were added, making a total of 82). This first one was edited in 1863, more than forty years after Continue reading

“Customized” conservation with Richard Wolbers

Fellows of joys and sorrows, conservators, here is why I am so excited with the “Cleaning workshop: Paper bathing/stain removal”, given by Wolbers: The idea is to make every conservation treatment a kind of custom-made dress for each particular object with a minimal initial investment. He speaks about solvents, gels, surfactants, conductivity and pH.
Nor in my wildest dreams had I imagined such a close, easy and useful chemistry. Thanks a lot Richard, we owe it to you. Continue reading

Chemists and conservators: a love/hate relationship

A cathartic experience: There’s nothing more exciting for a conservator such as participating in a chemistry course. We go there with a certain respect (or maybe fear) and the will to be acquainted to a new miraculous reactant that will change our life.
The poor conservator will poorly be able to discuss one to one with a chemist, either about the reactions that happen during the restoration treatments or along the inherent ageing of the artefact; and yet we must call the chemist into question and keep this dialogue alive. But thanks to Richard Wolbers I made peace with chemistry and their scientists. Continue reading

Dürer: From old Europe to Palm Beach

Alligators, palm trees, luxury residences… What business have in Florida the Holy Trinity by Dürer, Mr. Audubon, and a paper conservator from old Europe? A two-week holiday to visit friends from Palm Beach became a fascinating collaboration project with the … Continue reading

This document will self-destruct in 30 secs!

Or how to remove adhesive tapes, without removing them    We have spoken about bibliopaths, about misuses and how to eradicate its effects… But, what happens when the artefact itself causes its own degradation? It’s not a spy movie’s myth: … Continue reading

Tracing paper restoration, berliner style

I never enjoy anything as much as visiting other paper restoration studios, especially if they are private. They usually bear the imprint of a personal vocation, a personality which is barely present at institutional studios. I watch the space distribution, the tools, the jars… at Hildegard Homburger’s studio. Is there a better way to nose around than becoming a berliner restorer for two days? Continue reading

Posters restoration: virtual inpaint vs “virtuous” retouching

The bike riders from Sants reached my studio squeaking, rather than cycling!
Tears, foxing, discolouration, brittleness, acidity… All these damages have been carefully restored in order to let the splendorous riders finish line at the Municipal Archive of Barcelona. They are almost centenarian… and yet they ride wild along the repository! I’ll explain which beauty and health treatments these illustrated posters have passed through Continue reading

“Smart books” and bibliographic terrorism

Terrorists do not always carry explosives or mallets, nor they come from overseas, it may even be people in charge of collections. We ought to deal with them to safeguard “smart books”: books intelligently made, such that no material interfere with each other, on the contrary, they create formidable synergies. Each one has its peculiarities, its beauty and its function. They represent a compendium of technology, art, society and culture at the time and place in which they were created. Continue reading

Bibliopaths: The case of the lacquer binding

Are we supposed to fear bibliopaths? Or maybe we should give them an award? Who are they? Atention! Because they can be among us, or we might even be one of them?! I invite you to read the Case of the Lacquer Binding to know more about them Continue reading

I have mold! (…or is it foxing?)

Foxing is mould… or not?
One of the main concerns in archives and libraries is the presence of mould. Not surprisingly: it develops without fanfare, and when it is detected, an irreversible loss of information might have taken place. Before pulling your hair out, you should identify whether the symptoms actually reveal fungal activity, or not. Not an easy assessment. Continue reading

Flattening under tension on paper and parchment restoration

Wrinkles and folds are a usual damage in documents made of paper, cloth or parchment. The common way to restablish these supports to its original condition is by pressure: under weights or in a press.
When the paper has a relief which must be preserved, it is then not possible to use pressure, as it would smash this relief.
Flattening under tension may be an interesting alternative on certain occasions or when a selective flattened is needed. It takes advantage of the natural shrinkage of the paper when going from wet to dry, so that the tension is given by the same paper. Continue reading