Profession: book and paper conservator

What does a paper conservator do? Whom does she work for? What skills and knowledge does she ought to have?
Preservation and conservation, a field linked to science, history and arts and crafts. A video explains what differenciates us from forgers and shows -among other- how we produce a hand-made suction table to restore paper artifacts, with loads of creativity, a feature most necessary to become book and paper conservator. Continue reading

No gordian solution for the resilient conservator

To trim or not to trim. Is that the question?
A book conservator deals with main ethical considerations. Sometimes because of the customer desire’s, and most of the time seeking an equilibrium between preservation and functionality. To top it up, we expect the result to be pleasant as well: not too new, not too worn; most original, but not too weak…
Rare is the case when we find a salomonic solution that satisfies all the requirements.
I guess a conservator is not the type who cuts the gordian knot, but rather one who tries to unlock it no matter how painful that is! Continue reading

A midnight paper conservation dream

A lockdown is kind of stoping any activity, and that is what I have done, a stop-motion video, showing the full conservation treatment of a paper document Continue reading

Save the date: Tuesday 21st at 11h

Conference about impregnated tracing paper conservation and premier of the video of my latest super-oversized project Continue reading

Christmas angels in serious condition,
on their way to full recovery!

Christmas angels currently at ICU in serious condition. Diagnosis: chronical humidity, binding dislocation, a variety of infections and rodent attack.
Prognostic is optimistic because a high level team is taking good care of them. Soon they’ll be bright and happy as Larry, just like in this year’s Christmas greetings.
Don’t miss the video! Continue reading

Retouching, a taboo in paper conservation?

Retouching is among the most sensitive within ethics in conservation since it means to establish the aspect a restored object is expected to have.
My opinion is that the looks of an historical object is often as important as its physical-chemical condition, and not intervening provides poor results that might mislead its readability more than a proper intervention. The more we intend to make it as neutral as possible, the least arbitrary, we need to admit that retocuhing requires good taste. Continue reading

A Safe and Efficient Method for Silver Mirroring Removal in Photographic Conservation

At last a deffinitive method, safe and efficient for silver mirroring removal in historical photographs. This new treatment will change the way the issue of silver mirroring removal has been addressed in photographic collections. See it in this video and value the results. Continue reading

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

Silver Mirroring: Its Importance, Formation Process, and a New Elimination Procedure

New Elimination Procedure for Silver Mirroring.
Silver mirroring is a type of deterioration that appears in most gelatin developing-out paper (DOP) historical photographs and black-and-white films. Its treatment involves so many problems that it has often been ruled out. In this article we present a new and simple elimination procedure, which is efficient and offers stable results in the long term.
The study of the causes of the formation of silver mirroring sheds light on aspects that had been little explained so far: the fact that this type of deterioration always appears on the surface of the image leads us to consider a mechanism of transport of electrical charges. Continue reading

Unlocking St. Anthony’s locked manuscript

“Tony, Tony, come around, something’s lost and can’t be found!”
Some manuscripts require more than just manual skills to succeed in their conservation, and so we prayed to Saint Anthony to help us unlocking the bookbinding, whose key had been lost forever. Certainly not many renaissance bookbindings have an iron safety lock in their covers and thus this extra holly help was deemed quite necessary. The prayer didn’t provide any key, but at least a satisfactory conservation solution was achieved! Continue reading

Gels, microemulsions and nano-systems applied to pressure sensitive tape removal: latest updates

Tape removal, chemical and physical gels, microemulsions and much more. Review and abstract of the conference “Nanosystems. Application to tape removal on cellulosic supports,”, which took place in Madrid (Spain), on June 6 to 8th, 2018; within the context of NanoRestArt, the european Research and Developement project. Continue reading

Endbands, headbands and ties

The headband to a book is like the tie to a suit: they both give their owner the chance to stand out. It is like the icing on the cake of the binding, and gathers the bookbinder’s proficiency and taste. We’ll discuss their aspect like in a Vanity Fair, and go beyond: What are they meant for? and why stuck-on headbands are less cared by conservators than sewn ones? Should we replace them or conserve them?
The untrained eyes will look at them with more interest now, because -just like ties- there are headbands for all tastes! 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