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 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

Tracing paper conservation, 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 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

“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 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

Choirbooks, and much more, at the spanish National Library

Led by Luis Crespo and Arsenio Sanchez, restorerss in the National Library, we visit the fascinating world of book illuminated miniatures, choir books, manuscripts …
Latest technological resources, ancient tradition, and above all their experience and knowledge, allow the recovery of these bibliographic jewels exhibited now at the National Library of Spain. 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

Conservation of school poster from spanish civil war period

This map represents the typical scholar posters: with its wooden slats to roll and hang, lined on the back. It was very common to varnish them with shellac to waterproof and protect them from abrasion. This one was made of two pieces of printed paper, sticked together along the central horizontal stripe. It is from 1936, spanish civil war was barely breaking.
Removing the old varnish has allowed to repare other minor damages: tears, gaps and wrinkles. But most important is that the new varnish is not oxidizing nor yellowing. As it is very flexible it will not crack in the future. Continue reading

Minimal intervention on “Serra & Balet” documents

Standard treatment of minimal intervention on documentation with slight damages: Disinfection, removal of clips and staples, consolidation and folder to fit Continue reading