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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 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

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

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