44th Annual Meeting & 42nd Annual Conference – Book and Paper Session, May 16, “Paper Tapestry: Wallpaper Preservation” by Joanna P. McMann

Joanna McMann, Assistant Conservator at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, was incredibly busy in Montreal, presenting two talks at the Book and Paper specialty session! This presentation outlined the work completed for the Spadina Museum in Toronto, Ontario. The historic house museum opened in 1984, and has been the subject of restoration treatment previously, as presented in the 2011 CAC-ACCR conference in Winnipeg: https://www.cac-accr.ca/files/pdf/e-cac-conference-2011.pdf (see page 20 for the abstract of “Wallpaper Reproduction Goes Digital”).

Photo of "Paper Tapestry: Wallpaper Preservation" presentation by Joanna P. McMann
Photo of servants’ hallway and wallpaper, from “Paper Tapestry: Wallpaper Preservation” by Joanna P. McMann.

The 1912-1913 third floor servants’ hallway had not been restored, and the floral-patterned wallpaper’s in situ stabilization was McMann’s goal. There were a number of condition issues including losses, abrasions, delamination of wallpaper from the wall, water staining, tearing, and significant soot, dust, and grime, resulting from the area being used as a storage space. The wallpaper’s paper substrate was pulpy and weak, and its media was water-soluble. McMann found that a modified technique of the full-scale digital printing previously used was necessary to complete the conservation project in the short timeframe of the month of December. There was 500 square feet of wallpaper requiring treatment, requiring a specific coding system to map the damage efficiently.
Surface cleaning was completed using goat-hair brushes and latex-free makeup sponges. The fragments were carefully cleaned, and cracks were cleaned with the makeup sponges and Absorene chemical absorbing sponges. McMann remarked on the effectiveness of this, allowing the cracks to recede into the overall aesthetic of the wall.
Delaminated wallpaper was re-adhered to the wall with a very dry wheat starch paste, gouges were pulp-filled, smoothed, and toned, and if necessary, damaged plaster was filled.
Losses were divided by size, so that medium – large losses were filled with the digitally printed reproduction papers, and small losses were filled with papers that were toned with watercolour. Using this coding system, more than 600 infills and 63 losses/abrasions were completed and treated! Three rounds of proofing were used to produce a quality output of the reproductive wallpaper paper, and the printed paper was split mechanically while damp as the reproduction paper was thick overall and chamfering was not possible. All fills were first done with toned Japanese tissue, in order to ensure a sympathetic colour if abrasions were to occur again, as the area will remain used as storage space after stabilization. The large losses required precise alignment before they were trimmed, and a combination of methyl cellulose and wheat starch paste was used to adhere and to allow for some slip during alignment.
Final toning was done using acrylics and a number of different light sources, to ensure compatibility to the viewer.
McMann presented the challenges and problem-solving techniques needed for the completion of the project to the very interested audience. She guided us through the stabilization of the servants’ area, noting its imortance to the Spadina (Spa-deenah or Spa-dinah depending on your class status in the nineteenth century!) Museum, as they have gained the title of being “Toronto’s Downton Abbey” and have exhibited costumes from the popular BBC drama.

44th Annual Meeting & 42nd Annual Conference – Book and Paper Session, May 15, “All Over the Map: Bringing Buffalo’s Stars of Cartography to Light (One Lining at a Time) by Stephanie Porto

Stephanie Porto, Owner and Paper Conservator at Niagara Art Conservation, presented an engaging talk on the conservation of maps depicting the rapid growth of Buffalo, New York from 1805 to 1909, which were exhibited in “You Are Here: Buffalo on the Map.” Stephanie’s talk perfectly balanced the technical treatment aspects with contextual information on the maps themselves.

Image and exhibition outline found on: http://www.buffalolib.org/content/now-display/rare-book-room/buffalo-on-the-map.
Image and exhibition outline found on: http://www.buffalolib.org/content/now-display/rare-book-room/buffalo-on-the-map.

Stephanie outlined the history and interesting facts of each map requiring conservation treatment. From the 1833 map, which detailed the area one year after Buffalo had been incorporated as a city, to the 1847 map which demonstrated the increase in commerce on the lake, and the 1893 Christian Homestead Association map, which included the salacious representation of 75 houses of ill fame.
Their conservation treatment needed to be completed in a limited timeline, and while six out of eight of the maps required linings due to poor quality paper, Stephanie found that traditional wet paste lining was not going to be possible in most cases. She included some great references that she had consulted on dry lining techniques:
Sheesley, Samantha. 2011. “Practical Applications of Lascaux Acrylic Dispersions in Paper Conservation”. The Book and Paper Group Annual 30: 79-81.
Jamison, Jamye. 2013. “Tip: Lascaux Linings in the Treatment of Park Plans for the Cleveland Public Library”. The Book and Paper Group Annual 32: 82-83.
Stephanie’s lining mock ups initially had an issue with sheen and planarity, but she was able to solve both problems using cellulose powder and a combination of Lascaux 303 HV and 498 HV. She outlined the specs of each adhesive, noting their difference in sealing temperatures (498 HV is higher) and final film elastic description (498 HV is hard and 303 HV is tacky). Stephanie described her preparation of the lining paper, beginning with rolling a 2:1 Lascaux 498 HV and 303 HV mixture onto silicone release Mylar with a brayer, allowing to dry, and ironing the dried adhesive film onto the lining paper, and using a printmaking baren to apply pressure after the film and paper were cooled. The map was placed recto up and the prepared lining paper was aligned underneath, the sandwich was flipped and smoothed by hand, then ironed from the center out. After being cooled, the lined map was pressed between Tycore panels. She then discussed the specific treatments of particular maps requiring linings.
The 1850 map depicting an 1805 Buffalo rendered in ink on watercolor paper required the removal of pressure sensitive tape, suction washing and cleaning, dry lining, and overall stretch-mounting.
The 1888 relief printed map could not withstand a backing removal, and so the treatment went forward with consolidation of delaminated paper with wheat starch paste set with a tacking iron, and a dry lining was applied with the original textile backing still in place.
The 1909 relief printed map was heavily water-damaged and retained evidence of previous conservation intervention. The map was consolidated with methyl cellulose, and was lined overall with the backing still in place with a Beva 371 film, and stretch mounted onto a foam board.
The 1893 color lithograph map required the removal of pressure sensitive tape, a temporary facing of 4% w/v Klucel G in ethanol during the backing removal, and a dry lining.
The 1833 hand colored lithograph was in the poorest condition with many detached fragments and a varnish layer. After the varnish was removed with ethanol, and the same temporary facing was applied, the backing was removed dry and the verso was then sanded to remove the adhesive residue. After lining with the Japanese tissue Okowara, the backing paper itself was hand toned with acrylics to integrate losses.
All the temporary facings were removed and loss compensation was completed by pouncing the Japanese tissue with cellulose powder and dry pigments. Finally, we got to see an excellent use of old chemistry textbooks in the pressing and flattening of the maps!