Super motivated conservator in front of a destroyed paper.
Conservators are freak. We get excited when we are given destroyed papers to test our skill. When we feel like showing off, what we want is to restore objects that seem unrecoverable, those ones that make our clients think of us as paper super-heroes: “My god! It was all so shattered and wrinkled…! How did you do it? It seems impossible!!!”.
Or we also thrill restoring very rare artefacts: those which push us to search for alternative techniques and methodologies… an absolute headache! But in the end, this artefacts give us the grand prize of new lessons and experience.
But… what happens with those projects a priori “totally normal”? Have they less value?
An object with which a restorer cannot make an impact with brilliant technique, or which is not the oldest ever, the most prized, beatiful, prestigious, rare… does it have to remain, for its very worthy restoring mediocrity, less loved?
Documents from Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (CoAC) historical archive. Left: Sheets before restoration, a little crumpled and with some tears and a gap with no significance. Right: The restored sheets. It was important to keep the transparency of tracing paper.
Although I’m passionate about my work, I recognize that motivation is not always maximum when starting some restorations. But during the intervention every object gives you something, teaches you something. In addition, normality, reiteration of techniques is essential to advance firmly when things get complicated, to give a broader perspective… and also to have a quiet day without surprises, why not.
Don’t forget that it’s a manual work: the issue of contact, touch, establishes at the end a bond with sort of true intimacy. And although it’s been years since crumpled ADLAN papers went through my hands, when I saw the crowfunding campaign to digitize the recently discovered documents in the College of Architects of Catalonia, my heart jumped with excitement!
I encourage you to contribute to the digitization of this fund of real significance in historical documentary heritage, though they may not be extremely damaged and do not need an urgent restoration. Digitization puts them at your fingertips and allows a more agile and closer study… and ensures longer preservation by reducing the need of handling originals.
(I am just translating the post when the crowfunding campaign is already ended… but I feel like translating anyway, such is the passion for these crumpled ADLAN tracing papers!)
>> More about ADLAN, Jaume Prat’s post.
>> More about ADLAN, video with the TV· news on 3th march (in catalan)