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

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

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

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

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

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

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