Housing as a (quite desperate) conservation resource

New artwork arrives at the studio to be ready for an exhibition: pressure, limited time, bleeding inks…
Could it not be some other easier and more showing off artefacts?
Here’s what I do when I don’t seem to find much to do:
Tape removal, and failing to flatten under tension with magnets…
Mounting the artwork on a housing that secured an even tension on the artwork during the exhibition, was the last resource. Continue reading

Untangling tensions, for an improved 2019

We wish you merry Chrsitmas and a better (and restored) 2019, untangling knots and tensions, at least those from parchment manuscripts. Continue reading

Sōkō conservation for oversized sketches by Sorolla

Sorolla sketches represent the spontaneity, the genius and the creative stage for its own right. Their conservation shares with them this essentiality, the minimal intervention character. The restoration has adopted japanese tools and techniques, a paper conservation at the most eastern style. Or not that utmost, since the Karibari was replaced by a wooden board. Eastern or western, the restoration of the gouache sketches has been truly remarkable, and you’ll have to read it to know why. Continue reading

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

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

This document will self-destruct in 30 secs!

Or how to remove pressure sensitive 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

Posters conservation: 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

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 conservation

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

New conservation methodolgy to retrieve lost flexibility to brittle tracing papers

Approach to a new methodolgy to retrieve the lost flexibility to brittle papers.
Tracing papers -so usual among technical drawings- have in common their transparency, but there are significant differences in the process to make them. The properties and behavior will be very different then. Impregnated papers, for an instance, were applied oils or varnishes to provide them translucency.
Explanation restoration of several drawings in which the varnish was removed to replace it later. Continue reading

Who says BluTack® is ideal for papers?

BluTack in papers? Never!
Restoration of a document from industrial heritage with a stain from this adhesive, property of the Municipal Archive (Barcelona) Continue reading

Damned “sellotapes”!

Which damages cause sellotapes? Can we release documentary heritage from these fatty strips?
Explanation for the degradation mechanisms of this historic “remedial” tapes that we can find in documents of all kinds, and restoration possibilities in each case. Continue reading