42nd Annual Meeting — Book and Paper Session, May 30, "The Conservation of Tiffany Studio Drawings: Finding New Ways to Reconstruct Complex Paper Loss," by Marina Ruiz Molina

Two of the motifs in the book and paper presentations and posters this year were 1) paper pulp, for example in Debra Evans and Victoria Binder’s poster “Pulp Addiction: The Use of Dry Cast Pulp,” and Renate Mesmer and Jennifer Evers’ poster “Cast Paper Pulp,” and 2) flood and mold damage, which were represented in Katherine Kelly and Anna Friedman’s presentation “Conserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive for Digitization” and Fernanda Mokdessi Auada’s “Salvage of Paper Materials from the Flooding of Saõ Luiz do Paraitinga.” Marina Ruiz Molina’s presentation united these themes, in using paper pulp to conserve mold damaged items.
Marina Ruiz Molina’s case study objects were part of a collection of drawings used as guides in the Louis Comfort Tiffany studio in manufacturing stained glass. The firm went out of business in 1924, and the drawings were later found in an attic room of a marble dealer in Long Island. The collection entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1960s but they have been inaccessible due to their extensive mold damage from water damage, as seen in this combined before and after treatment picture.

Before (top) and After (bottom) of mold-damaged Tiffany drawing
Before (top) and after (bottom) pulp infill and overlay of mold-damaged Tiffany studio drawing

Marina Ruiz Molina gave a quick overview of mold and what it does to paper, causing both structural weakening and aesthetic damage from the pigments it produces. She then presented three case studies of the use of cast paper pulp. The Tiffany drawings had been executed on illustration board that was made of imported Whatman paper adhered to local wood-pulp board. She first mechanically reduced the mold by cleaning with suction under the microscope, followed by application of solvents, enzymes and chelating agents in an attempt to reduce the stain.
The paper was still stained and extremely weak. The weakness of the original paper made it especially important to match the strength and expansion properties of the infill to the original paper. Marina Ruiz Molina achieved this by mixing cotton and flax to get the right hydrophilicity and using pre-dyed reactive dye pulp to achieve the right color. She is still experimenting with pigments, but the dyes were much easier to work with. She beats the pulp with a Vita-pro3 Vitamix blender, using the blending time to control the properties. She has found that any blend time under about 30 minutes still gives good fiber length.
Once the pulp is prepared, she pours it onto a Hollytex screen (the 0.0029” Hollytex is an ideal weight). She taps the fibers with a brush to distribute the fibers and then lifts the whole screen onto blotters. For the first case study, she cast two sheets, one as an infill and one as an overlay. To adhere them she humidified the object along with the infill and sprayed the infill with a dilute methyl cellulose solution, aligning it over the drawing on the suction table.
In the second case study, the decision was made to leave the drawing on its illustration board and to mechanically remove only the damaged part of the board, cutting it away in a stepped pattern to give a better surface for infilling. Marina Ruiz Molina then adhered several layers of Richard de Bas paper to build up the inner layers, using methyl cellulose. The outer visible layers were cast paper fills.
The third case study had thin lines on the recto traveling into the mold damaged area. Marina Ruiz Molina showed pictures of casting the overlay with holes in it so the design is still visible.
Marina Ruiz Molina is still refining the technique and would like to compare dyed pulps and pigmented pulps with a microfadeometer, investigate the quantitative effects of different blending and drying techniques, and find more sustainable methods for cast paper fills.

42nd Annual Meeting – Photographic Materials Session, May 30, “Preserving Ernest Hemingway’s Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks at the Finca Vigía,” by Monique Fischer and M. P. Bogan

Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home from 1939 to 1960, is open to the public and situated at the top of a windy hill with tropical conditions and occasional hurricanes. It holds not only much of the original furnishing from the time of Hemingway’s residence, but also a large part of Hemingway’s personal library and archive, including manuscripts, letters, over 3000 photographs, scrapbooks, photograph albums, art collections, maps and a 9000 volume library.
Preservation at the Finca Vigía is a balancing act. For instance, the staff tries to mitigate some of the heat and humidity by closing doors and blinds, but this disappoints people who have made the pilgrimage to Hemingway’s house, only to find they cannot look inside. The current director of the house wants to “preserve the soul of Hemingway,” presenting the house as much as possible as if Hemingway might still be living there. This means that many intermediary measures for protecting the objects, such as removing the objects altogether from their environment, are often not options.
NEDCC (the Northeast Document Conservation Center) has been working with Finca Vigía for over ten years. They began with a preservation assessment, followed by a condition assessment of the book and paper materials. Conservators from NEDCC visit Cuba for one week every six months. They can bring only the materials they will use—no extra—so treatment and rehousing need to be carefully estimated and planned. The NEDCC’s role in this partnership is to provide training and advice.
Finca Vigía’s paper conservator, Néstor Álvarez Gárciga, carries out treatment, with the assistance of interns and conservation assistants. The conservation space is two small rooms, one under the kitchen. Electricity can be shut off without warning, and running water can be in short supply.
Once M.P. Bogan had laid out the context and obstacles of conservation at Finca Vigia, Monique Fischer then described individual treatments for four volumes surrounding Hemingway’s 1954 Nobel Prize for Old Man and the Sea and the subsequent movie production. She first addressed the treatment of a storyboard book for the movie the Old Man and the Sea. It is a volume of diazotypes with gouache hand-coloring. Her research found that storyboard books were sometimes distributed as thank you presents to individuals involved in the making of films, but both the extent of the hand-coloring and her attempts to find similar albums suggest that this may have been a unique gift to Hemingway. There was mold-bloom visible on the volume’s binder, and the gouache was found to be very water soluble. In this treatment there was a delicate balance between caring for the physical stability of the materials and keeping the book as close to its original state as possible. In the end, the binder and the diazotypes were surface cleaned. The curator made the “uncomfortable decision” to allow the conservator to remove the diazotypes to storage, digitize them and place copies in the book in their place. (See the following day’s presentation on environmental concerns for the exhibition of diazotypes).
The next album discussed was the photograph album Homenaje Nacional (national tribute), which is on permanent display. The photos are spot-adhered onto pages that are held together in a post-bound album. The album was treated through removing the photos, washing, digitizing, reassembling with new screw posts, and will be put back on permanent display. Treatment was complicated by the lack of both a consistent source of pure running water and the amount of blotter that a typical U.S. conservator might go through in washing a volume. While the Finca Vigía may lack pure running water and a sink in the conservation lab, it has plenty of moisture in the air, and Néstor Álvarez Gárciga used the water gathered by the dehumidifiers, working in a tray outside, where the light was good. Néstor Álvarez Gárciga also used the star of this year’s Book and Paper Group Tips Session—Tek-wipe—as an absorbent and washable alternative to blotter.
For the volume of congratulatory telegrams, a different approach was taken, as the fragile telegrams were considered the most important original part of the album. The album was disassembled, removing the telegrams and the paste downs, and reassembled onto Permalife paper. The album was then placed into a 3-flap wrapper.
The most complicated treatment of the four was the Recuerdo 1956, also known as the fishnet album, after the fishnet wrapped around its cover. It was made by Hemingway’s wife Mary Welsh, and included the full gamut of album problems, such as colored pages, detaching pages, and newspaper clippings, photographs and even some film strips, many of which were attached with rubber cement and tape. The items were removed and the adhesive locally reduced as much as possible with acetone and ethanol. The pages were all washed and guarded with toned Japanese paper and then the items spot adhered in their original places. During conservation the volume was also digitized. One unusual feature of the album was its inclusion of film strips. These were removed from the cardboard mounts, and Néstor Álvarez Gárciga used the film sprockets as places to put Mylar clips so that the film strips can now be picked up and properly viewed with transmitted light without touching the film itself.
This talk presented the difficult balance between caring for the items as physical objects and allowing the public a glimpse into Hemingway’s home life and the items that surrounded him. Néstor Álvarez Gárciga and the NEDCC team have shown what can be achieved even in the face of formidable obstacles.

41st Annual Meeting – General Session, May 30, "Contemporary Colorant Change: Assessing Changes in the Herblock Collection Due to Exhibition and Storage of Fugitive Media, Part II," by Fenella G. France

Caveat: This review presents very little of the data from this study, but is instead a quick overview so that you know what the Herblock team is working on and what to look forward to in the published study.
This presentation addresses a looming problem in the conservation of 20th century material culture – the color change of ubiquitous late twentieth century drawing and writing materials. Fenella G. France’s talk is the second AIC presentation of an ongoing ambitious study at the Library of Congress on the aging of drawing materials used by the editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block (Herblock). Although this study looks at the materials of a single artist, it has applications for both late 20th century and contemporary archives and for contemporary fine art on paper. France reminded the audience that the Library of Congress is the depository for the Members of Congress’s papers, which often contain the same materials Herblock was using, including White-Out, Avery Labels, and paper with optical brighteners. In short, this Library of Congress team is looking at the future of paper conservation.
When the Library acquired the Herblock collection, which spans 72 years and includes 14,400 drawings and 50,000 rough sketches on newsprint, Holly Krueger, Head of the Paper Conservation Section at the Library of Congress, had the foresight to gather some of the artist’s materials. (Collecting contemporary artist’s materials turned out to be a theme at the 2013 meeting, with Michelle Barger’s “Artist Materials Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art” presentation, Tiarna Doherty’s passing reference to a few spare television sets acquired to replace sets as they broke, as well as the acquisition of an entire inspirational archivein “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary: from the Archive to the Exhibition,” and on a more conceptual level, the acquisition of people with specialized knowledge for the conservation of performance art in Dr. Pip Laurenson’s “Collecting the Performative: the Role of the Conservator in the Conservation of Performance-Based Art.”) In the future the Library is hoping to work with the U.S. Secret Service, which has its own collection of modern ink and fugitive materials.
In the 1970s, Herblock made the transition from India ink and graphite (which are relatively permanent, and have a long history of use) to modern materials that he bought at the corner store, including porous-point (felt-tip) pens, white correction fluid (White-out), pressure-sensitive labels (Avery brand) and coquille board, a textured drawing board with optical brighteners.
The ongoing study of composition and aging characteristics has been conducted with 23 of Herblock’s drawing materials on both Whatman paper and on samples of Herblock’s favored coquille drawing board, all exposed to 5 different conditions. The discovery that some of the pen components fade even in the dark has added cold storage as another variable for future study.
The study is further complicated by Herblock’s use of several different porous-point black pens that are indistinguishable in normal light but that have different formulations and fading characteristics. The team used a progressive LED illumination sequence (hyperspectral imaging) to allow them to distinguish between individual blacks.
The team used a range of techniques to investigate both the samples and a selection of Herblock drawings, including hyperspectral imaging, UV-VIS colorimetry, micro-fade-ometer, and micro-sampling (of the sample sheets) for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The sample media that showed change were also subjected to thin-layer chromatography (TLC) to separate out the components, and analyzed with Direct-Analysis in Real Time (DART) Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry.
I will not attempt to present the team’s results, but a very quick and general summary would be that many of the inks are highly light sensitive, so far there is no dependency on substrate (Whatman vs. coquille board) for the color change of the media, and certain elements of the porous-point pens fade rapidly, even in the dark. France shared a before and after picture of one TLC plate that had been kept for 8 months and several of the porous-point pen ink components had already noticeably changed color within that time frame.
This study provides a unique chance to delve into the wide array of proprietary formulations of drawing and writing implements from the late 20th century and to look into the implications for their long-term preservation. I am sure I am not the only one eagerly awaiting the publication of the study to get a glimpse of what we will face as the century continues.

41st Annual Meeting – Book and Paper Session, May 30, "A Technical Study and Conservation Project of Roy Lichtenstein's Screenprint on Plastic 'Sandwich and Soda', 1964," by Marion Verborg

The fourth presentation of the Book and Paper Group session examined neither a book nor an object on paper, but instead a print on plastic: Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 Sandwich and Soda, a screenprint in red and blue ink on plastic. The object occupies a sort of conservation no-man’s-land: it’s a print, so it’s not something an objects conservator would normally deal with, but it’s on plastic, which is not a paper conservator’s area of expertise. Marion Verborg, Craigen W. Bowen Paper Conservation Fellow at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard Art Museum, jumped into the void with this print on plastic, part of the portfolio X + X (Ten Works by Ten Painters), published as an edition of 500 by the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1964.
Verborg’s problem was typical for a paper conservator—removing degrading pressure-sensitive tape that someone had once used to hinge the object. The Harvard Art Museum has more than one copy of the work. One print had an office-type pressure-sensitive tape, and the other had a Filmoplast-like tape. Both supports showed a small amount of planar distortion. There were already dark stains around the pressure-sensitive tape areas, causing concern that the adhesive would continue to sink into the media. The problem was complicated by the adhesive’s being directly adhered to the ink of the object, and by the plastic support, which would probably react poorly to heat application.
Verborg viewed other copies of the print in other institutions, and had access to the records of the print shop where they were made, as well as to recorded interviews with the artist and the opportunity to get information from Lichtenstein’s wife and a printer’s assistant from the print shop.
One interesting question arising from Lichtenstein’s use of a transparent support is which side is the recto? Lichtenstein, when asked many years later, said that the print should be ink-side up, which is reasonable for a print. However, both the printer’s assistant and Mrs. Lichtenstein remember that the ink should be on the verso, so that you have the glossy effect as well as the extra depth from looking through the support to the image. This is further supported by having the drinking glass in the composition on the right, where a right-handed person would normally place it.
Verborg had the materials tested with GCMS, FTIR, Raman Spectrometry, and LDI-MS (Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry).  The original printer’s invoice called the plastic “acetate,” but this seems to be a generic term for any clear sheet plastic.  Analysis revealed it to be polystyrene, which is no longer available in clear sheets like this, and today we are more familiar with it in products like Styrofoam. The inks used a polystyrene binder as well, with PB 15 (phthalocyanine blue) as the colorant in the blue ink, and chrome red and some barium sulfate in the red ink. The paper-type tape was made of cellulosic material and the clear tape used PVA for both carrier and adhesive.
No one seems to sell clear polystyrene sheets anymore, so Verborg had to make do with other plastics for her mock-ups.  As expected, heat caused the sheets to warp, making a heat treatment unwise. After removing the carrier, Verborg was left with sticky adhesive. Finding the right solvent for aged PVA adhesive that wouldn’t affect polystyrene would be difficult, as demonstrated by evidence of previous solvent tests on the ink layer, so she had to get creative, especially without the ability to make exact mock-ups. She finally tried sprinkling cellulose powder on the adhesive and then using a silicon color shaper to move the cellulose powder around, allowing her to remove the adhesive in small cellulose-powder/adhesive balls, leaving a clean surface.
This research has not only provided better insight into the working process of Roy Lichtenstein and his transition into experimenting with unusual print supports (one of the great advantages of screen printing) but also addresses other more universal problems such as the artist’s memory versus the artist’s probable intention, the unreliability of the labels people give to the materials they use, and how to remove sticky adhesive residue from a delicate surface.