43rd Annual Meeting – Joint Session: Architecture and Wooden Artifacts, May 14, "Furniture/Interiors Conservation Training in China by Gregory Landrey"

The third class of students has just been accepted into the CRAFT Program (Conservation Resources for Architectural Interiors/Furniture and Training) at the Palace Museum/Forbidden City in Beijing, co-sponsored by World Monuments Fund, the Palace Museum and Tsinghua University, where Greg Landrey worked as Conservator in Residence last fall. Landrey began his lecture by introducing the city of Beijing with a focus on the layout of the Forbidden City, in particular the Qianlong Garden (a cluster of 28 modest buildings in the northeast corner), as these interiors and their furnishings are used as teaching tools and selectively treated by the students in the program. The current student class size is approximately twelve students, and Landrey spoke through an interpreter when teaching. He also introduced the team of American conservators who have been teaching at CRAFT, and stressed that collaboration with the team was extremely important throughout the teaching process.  Chinese experts also teach courses on wood identification, furniture history, and architectural history and preservation.

Landrey showed numerous photographs of the students at work in their classroom and lab, which appeared to be a large, modern, and filled with natural light. His curriculum began with conservation ethics and theory, using the “three-legged stool” example as a teaching tool. Other subjects included the nature of wood, building hygrometers to see wood movement in action, wood technology, loss compensation, and casting. Landrey said that learning went both ways, because the students shared their knowledge of craft approaches and techniques with him throughout the semester. Treatment was also a teaching tool, with the students working as a class to document, analyze, and clean a three-part screen from the Qianlong Garden quarter of the Forbidden City. Landrey also had the students carry out drawing exercises each week to hone their drawing and observation skills, and he showed some particularly lovely examples to the audience. Field trips were taken to museums in Suzhou, as well as to the studio of a traditional lacquer artist and brocade museum with active looms.

Landrey had the students regularly read the AIC Code of Ethics as well as the Principles of Conservations of Heritage Sites in China, and expound on passages they felt were particularly meaningful to them. The student answers were shared with the audience as they were very insightful and showed how much they had learned. The goal of the program is to produce conservators to serve projects in China, and eventually the CRAFT curriculum will be entirely taught by Chinese conservators and scholars.

This talk was peppered with wonderful images and insights into Landrey’s life in Beijing, including the lively chaos of the city streets, Tai Chi being practiced by the students and staff in the morning, and the reverence the culture has for trees, which apparently made him feel a little bit more at home.


43rd Annual Meeting – Joint Session: Architecture and Wooden Artifacts, May 14, "Analyses of the Architecture of Wooden Churches from Buzau County, Romania by Necula Elena-Theodora"

The speaker began with some general information about Romania, where more than 12,000 historical wooden churches survive, eight of which are UNESCO sites. In the north, one distinguishing feature of the churches is a bell tower atop a sharply sloping roof, for drainage due to the abundant rainfall in that area. In the drier south, there are no bell towers and the roof is lower, more in the style of a traditional Romanian house. Focusing on Buzau County (located between Moldova, Transylvania and Wallachia), most of the churches are in the northwest region, with thirty-two historic churches of particular importance. The speaker carried out in-situ investigations of these churches in the summer of 2013, and these investigations appeared to consist of archival research, visual investigation and documentation. Most of the buildings are of wood beam construction with a rectangular floor plan that follows the plan of the Orthodox Church, and include a porch at the front entrance. Many contain interior paintings on sheet metal or on wood, executed in oil (on metal) or tempera (wood). Some exterior decoration survives in the form of shallowly carved motifs. The speaker spent a few minutes presenting each church, usually showing an overall exterior photograph, a floor plan, any specific construction details that made it unique, as well as an abbreviated history of its restoration. Some images of the interior paintings were also shown. The state of conservation of the churches was not discussed, although it was a question afterwards. The speaker answered that while some of the churches are still in use, most are completely abandoned and in need of care.

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting- Architecture Specialty Group Session, May 16th: “One Piece at a Time- The Repair of Felt-Bases Sheet Flooring at Johnny Cash’s Boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas” (Christina Varvi)

Christina first discussed the location- a New Deal planned farming community of 500 homes. It is now the only surviving home from the community and the town now has only 388 residents today. The home was acquired by the Arkansas Heritage Sites if Arkansas State University, located an hour and a half away. The home was furnished with 2 rooms of original flooring and objects owned by the family augmented by furniture dating to the time and 2 rooms of floor covering belonging to nearby Dyess Colony houses. The house was to be opened as a historic site for visitors in August 2014
RLA (Rosa Lowinger & Associates) was brought in at the end of the project to conserve the original floor coverings. Consideration had to be taken into account that the living room flooring would be walked on. There was little time and budget due to this being an add-on to the project at the last minute. The original estimate was double what the project could afford. Discussions led to a scale back in the project and priorities were set to what was most important to happen right away. Treatment was mostly confined to the 2 original-to-the-house floorings- those in the living room and Johnny Cash’s boyhood bedroom. Treatment was confined to cleaning (vacuuming and surface wet cleaning), stabilization of tears (on back with Japanese tissue and B72), fills and in-painting on living room flooring, and varnish (applied by brush) to protect the surface of the flooring. The non-original-to-the-house flooring was not varnished. Recommendations for now are furniture pads to protect the floor underneath, recommendations for visitors to remove shoes and use booties in the living room and roller shades to reduce light during off hours. Next steps are to raise additional funds to finish work on the floor, work on additional buildings on site (outlying farm buildings) and to raise funds for a visitor center.
There were many complexities to this project: the area was very rural, there was no running water in the house, the house was climate controlled but not airtight, no shops to be able to get supplies and the client was an hour and a half away. Everything had to be brought in. Additionally since the floor covering project was a last minute addition, furniture was already in place and could not be moved out of the house. With careful planning, much more was accomplished in the time given than was though possible and the treatment was a success.

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting- Practical Philosophy General Session May 15th: “Suspended Rules for Suspended Worlds: Conserving Historic Stage Scenery” (Mary Jo (MJ) Davis)

I was interested in this talk because it seemed an interesting intersection between textiles and objects together with the complications of working on objects that are still in use.
MJ discussed the set of challenges of working with historic stage scenery: climate, use, lack of funds, space to do treatments, ect. The “Curtains Without Borders” team (started 15 years ago in the state of Vermont) of conservators came up with a standard method of treatment that could be applied, with some differences as need, to the stage curtains. The typical treatment consists of: on-site technical examination, cleaning (vacuuming and dry sponging), mending tears with patches of muslin w/B72, inserts to areas of loss, consolidation of edges (all sides reinforced with muslin w/B72), structural support at top edge if necessary and reattachment of bottom roller, paint consolidation (sprayed B72), in-painting of losses and reinstallation with volunteers or professional riggers as needed.  All work is done onsite by conservators and a team of local volunteers (with at least 2 at all times). Many conserved curtains have been revisited over the years and additional issues have been attended to. Issues have mostly come from handling of curtains once they were re-installed.
The project has been a success all over New England- with more requests coming in from all over the country for help. There are plans to continue the project and expand territory.

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting- Book and Paper Group-Case Study: A Practical Approach to the Conservation & Restoration of a Pair of Large Diameter English Globes (Lorraine Bigrigg & Deborah LaCamera)

This talk presented the multi-disciplinary treatment involved in conserving two English globes- one celestial, one terrestrial. Overall it took 1400 studio hours! That is no typo! Deborah has kindly forwarded some screenshots of the powerpoint that you will find below.
1. Title slide
The globes were made between 1845-51 by Malby & Co (http://www.georgeglazer.com/globes/globeref/globemakers.html#malby jump to “Malby”) and they were acquired in 1851 by the University of Deseret, the university founded by the Church of Later Day Saints, now University of Utah.
The structure of these globes goes back to the early 16th century. Globes are essentially 2 hemispheres molded over a form and joined at the equator with an adhesive. The globe is then covered with plaster and paper gores (a gore is the name for the printed sections of paper that contain the informational content of the globe) and the entirety is burnished and varnished.
The Malby globes of the University of Utah were in poor condition, with cracks and losses and discolored varnish. The speakers considered the options for treatment of the two globes and decided they needed to treat them differently, since the terrestrial globe was so damaged that all of the gores needed to be removed and the hemispheres realigned, while the celestial globe had only small areas of damage so it did not need to be completely disassembled.

2. Terrestrial Sphere Condition
Terrestrial Sphere Condition

3. Celestial Sphere Condition
Celestial Sphere Condition

The treatment involved removing the varnish, removing the paper gores with a hand-held steamer, realigning the terrestrial globe’s hemispheres, cleaning the gores, mending, filling losses, reattaching the gores, burnishing, then varnishing.
Gore Removal
Gore Removal

Filling Holes
Filling Holes

Where there were areas of loss to the information on the gores, the TKM studio found gore reference sheets from Malby at the Royal Geographic Society in London. These were copied and then printed using pigmented ink-jet printer for the celestial globe. Gores from another globe, also at the RGS in London, were used as a reference for the terrestrial globe replacement gores. The reproductions were inserted as fills in the specific areas of loss in the cartography. Since this treatment, carried out in 2007, new techniques have become available, and the TKM studio has been using Pronto plates (http://www.nontoxicprint.com/polyesterplatelitho.htm ) for the past year or so. These plates use traditional printer’s ink, which is light, solvent, and heat stable.
The filled gores were registered and reattached to the hemispheres using a wheat starch paste-methyl cellulose mix.
Remounting Gores
Remounting Gores

After mounting the gores, the globes were burnished, then sized with 3% gelatin mixture. After in-painting, the globes were varnished with Dammar containing Tinuvin. The authors stressed that the entire project was multi-disciplinary as the stand was repaired and the metalwork was cast and engraved to form the completed object.
The treatment is published in the most recent Journal of the Institute for Conservation, volume 38 no.1 2015

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting- Book and Paper Group: Foxing and Reverse Foxing: Condition Problems in Modern Paper and the Role of Inorganic Additives (Sarah Bertalan)

This talk was given by Sarah Bertalan, as the culmination of a career observing foxing and reverse foxing during her conservation practice. It is such an interesting topic that there was too much information to squeeze into 30 minutes, and Bertalan left us hanging without a conclusion but I will provide some links to articles that she mentioned at the end of the talk summary, as well as to the conservation wiki on foxing. I hope that she will publish in the BPG Annual Postprints, as I’m sure the majority of the attendees of her talk would agree! It is a topic that I find so interesting, and I even compiled my own literature review of foxing while in graduate school!
Bertalan’s observation of 19th and 20th century papers has led her to propose that foxing, the “reddish, brownish, roundish stains that occur in a random pattern,” is not caused by mold or by metal inclusions, but rather by inorganic additives that were added to the paper. It is widely reported that treating foxing stains can frustratingly lead to their reappearance within a relatively short amount of time.  Bertalan also considers the capacity for 19th and 20th century papers to discolor over their entire surface, not just in in the staining we associate with foxing. In such cases, the stains may be extensive but superficial, and the condition would be due to contact with catalyzing, acidic materials, not migration of degradation products, as is seen for matburnReverse foxing is a term that remains undefined, and the cause is unknown. White spots, as if negative images of the dendrite-like reddish brown foxing spots, will appear and be visible in normal light, often after a paper has been treated. Reverse foxing has been identified frequently on Van Gelder Zonen papers.
Inorganic additives were added to papers in the 19th and 20th centuries to achieve specific results. Additives such as minerals and metal oxides were added to modify the surface and texture, to act as fillers and opacifiers, brighteners and to aid in ink retention. The additives are extremely reactive and act as salts, catalyzing acid-base reactions. While foxing was not visible immediately after the paper was made, elevated humidity, changing pH and daylight would provide the environment to form foxing. Contemporaries were aware of the effect of humidity on papers, notably the appearance of foxing stains.
Bertalan observes that the sensitivity of papers coated or immersed in metal salts to light is well documented, as the earliest photographs were made with paper coated in metal salts. The supporting evidence Bertalan presents for inorganic particles causing foxing is the presence of opaque zones that correspond to foxing stains when paper is seen in transmitted light. Furthermore, when foxing is not visible in normal light, opaque dendrite-like inclusions in the paper can be seen in UV light as well as transmitted light. Even when the reddish-brown stains have been washed out of the paper, the opaque regions still remain when viewed in UV light.
Soyeon Choi Literature Review on Foxing (you must use your AIC sign-in to access the article) http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1179/019713607806112378
Browning, B.L. Analysis of Paper 1977.

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting – The Daguerreotype Uncovered: An Overview of the Surface and Subsurface Chemistry, Physics and Material Science Underlying the First Photographic Process Based on Electron Microscopial Studies. Patrick Ravines

This presentation was delivered by Patrick Ravines, Director and Associate Professor, Buffalo State University. Co-authors include Peter Bush, Lisa Chan, Natasha Erdman, Lingjia Li, Rob McElroy, and Anne West.
Patrick et al have been using electron microscopy to investigate the surface and subsurface of daguerreotypes. They have created fresh plates for the investigation, and have used these analytical techniques during each stage of preparation. They have made discoveries including how scratches to the surface Ag are not always completely removed during the polishing process, polishing removes approximately 1 mm of Ag, and fuming with I2 creates a discontinuous layer of AgI across the plate. One interesting thing Patrick noted was how upon placing a sensitized daguerreotype plate in an SEM, the electron beam produced enough energy to cause the AgI particles to print out before their eyes. After exposure to Hg vapor, they were able to observe the Ag-Hg particles from various angles and discern that there are many other cluster shapes than cubic and hexagonal. Using lasers, they drilled into the daguerreotype surface, created cross-sections, and observed the subsurface voids. Patrick discussed their believe that the subsurface voids are the result of Ag migrating up to the surface to form the image material, leaving behind an absence of material. This work will be published soon in more detail.
Patrick noted that professionals in the electronics industry are using similar materials, Ag and Au, and they are finding similar subsurface voids.

AIC 43rd Annual Meeting – A Glimpse from the Dawn of Photography: Investigation and Stabilization of an Early Daguerreotype from 1839 at the Peabody Essex Museum. Elena Bulat and Kathryn Carey

For this presentation Kathryn Carey, paper conservator at the Peabody Essex Museum (Massachusetts), introduced the project and the museum. The Peabody Essex received an early daguerreotype dated 1839 from a donor in 1858. The image is of Pont Neuf in Paris, and the plate is tentatively attributed to Vincent Chevalier, or Daguerre himself. The daguerreotype was “rediscovered” in 2008 and Elena Bulat, photograph conservator at Harvard University’s Weissman Preservation Center, was contracted to perform analysis and treatment. The daguerreotype was housed in the European style with a paper passe-partout and framed. Elena’s work consisted of opening the package, digitally imaging the plate, performing XRF on the plate and FTIR on the glues, fiber analysis of the papers, observation and imaging under UV radiation, removal of superficial dust from the plate with a manual air blower, replacement of the old passe-partout  and cover glass with new but similar materials, and rebinding. XRF revealed low levels of Hg and no Au. S was found in tarnish areas, and no Cl was found. These results in conjunction with observation under UV confirm the identification of this plate as an early 19th century daguerreotype that was cleaned. FTIR revealed beeswax, and fiber analysis found bast and cotton fibers in the paper components. The new housing for the plate consisted of a backing piece of borosilicate glass, a window mat of borosilicate glass, and a new cover glass (also borosilicate). The plate was secured between these layers with a mylar Z-tray. Elena recommended the plate not be exhibited as it was not stabilized by gold toning.
Elena described her experience speaking with a reporter from the Boston Globe regarding this project, and how he had difficulty grasping the concept that “treatment” does not necessarily mean intervention. This rang true for me, and I imagine for many other conservators in the audience. You can read the article here: http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2010/06/27/a_glimpse_from_dawn_of_photography/

43rd Annual Meeting – Research and Technical Studies, May 15, “Parylene Treatment for Book/Paper Strengthening” by John Baty

In the 1990s there was a pioneering study on the use of parylene to strengthen brittle book paper performed by Don Etherington, David Grattan, and Bruce Humphrey. Ultimately their research did demonstrate that parylene strengthened weak, brittle paper, but several concerns regarding the material’s long term effects were raised; such as reversibility and the uncertainty of its aging properties. John Baty and his colleagues at the Heritage Science for Conservation Research Center at Johns Hopkins University, sought to reexamine the potential for using parylene to strengthen brittle paper, given the improved scientific instruments and analysis methods available today. Their research sought to answer five primary research questions:  does parylene strengthen paper, what is the permanence of its effect, what are the side effects, how can parylene treatment be scaled up, and how can it be reversed.  Currently they have answered the first two and are conducting ongoing research.
Parylene is applied to brittle books by using a chamber that draws a vacuum and essentially pulls sublimated parylene through the system. The amount of parylene dimer that is added to the chamber directly correlates to the thickness of the deposited film. Previous research had not optimized the amount of parylene needed to achieve a desirable film layer, so this was a primary goal for Baty and his colleagues. The success of the treatment was evaluated using three mechanical paper strength tests: tensile testing, the MIT fold endurance test, and the Elmendorf tear test.
Baty and his team found that using 3 grams of parylene was sufficient to strengthen brittle paper to the point that it behaved similarly to modern wood pulp paper and only imparted a smoother appearance to its surface. 5 grams of the dimer was too much and conservators inspecting the pages concluded that the paper had a more “plasticky” and stiff feel to it. The three mechanical tests did indicate that the brittle paper samples were strengthened with the addition of a parylene coating, but there are still questions regarding this treatment’s reversibility and side effects that remain to be answered by Baty and his team in subsequent research.

43rd Annual Meeting – Research and Technical Studies, May 15, “The Deacidification of Contemporary Drawings: A Safe Method Based on Nanotechnology” by Giovanna Poggi

The degradation of cellulose-based materials, such as paper and canvas, is exacerbated by the presence of acidity caused by the natural aging process, various sizings, surface coatings, inks, or other papermaking products. Conservators attempt to mitigate this problem by the use of alkaline compounds to deacidify the substrate and impart an alkaline reserve within the fibers to counteract future acidity. In the case of paper-based objects, deacidification is most commonly accomplished by either washing in an alkaline bath or spraying on a solvent-based dispersion solution of micro-particles of magnesium or calcium.
Dr. Poggi’s talk presented research into a new method that can be used to deacidify paper-based objects using an apolar solvent dispersion of alkaline nanoparticles applied topically (an airbrush was used in these experiments), without the need for full immersion. The benefit of using nanoparticles for deacidification is that these particles have a higher surface area which react more readily with acidic compounds, creating a faster neutralization reaction; they are more homogenous in structure; and nanoparticles are able to penetrate further through the paper fibers, surface coatings, and sizing than micron sized particles. This research was conducted as part of the broader Nano for Art project, which seeks to devise new methods for the conservation and preservation of art using nanotechnology. More information can be found at their website: http://www.nanoforart.eu/.
Through the use of solvothermal reactions, Dr. Poggi and her colleagues were able to procure nano-sized particles of a crystallized form of CaOH in ethanol. They discovered that an alcohol based system created a stable, highly concentrated dispersion without the need for further purification and was very effective at deacidification. However, this solution could not be applied to more modern papers containing inks which were sensitive to alcohol. Apolar solvents were explored due to the fact that they would not adversely impact the topography of cellulose substrates. A variety of problematic inks were tested, such as ballpoint pen and felt tip marker, until it was determined that cyclohexane was the most appropriate solvent to use. During experimentation on both mockups and actual works of art, it was found that the cyclohexane dispersion did not adversely affect modern inks nor the topography of the paper substrates. Aging tests were performed on samples and indicated that papers treated with the nanoparticle dispersion discolored less and had an improved degree of polymerization when compared to aged, untreated samples.
Dr. Poggi’s presentation was very interesting and I’m looking forward to learning more about the use of these nanoparticle solutions to achieve a more effective and hopefully long lasting form of deacidification.