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TECHNIQUE

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.

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!

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.

Housing as a (quite desperate) conservation resource

New artwork arrives at the studio to be ready for an exhibition: pressure, limited time, bleeding inks... Could it not be some other easier and more showing off artefacts? Here's what I do when I don't seem to find much to do: Tape removal, and failing to flatten under tension with magnets... Mounting the artwork on a housing that secured an even tension on the artwork during the exhibition, was the last resource.

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!

Gels, microemulsions and nano-systems applied to pressure sensitive tape removal: latest updates

Tape removal, chemical and physical gels, microemulsions and much more. Review and abstract of the conference "Nanosystems. Application to tape removal on cellulosic supports,", which took place in Madrid (Spain), on June 6 to 8th, 2018; within the context of NanoRestArt, the european Research and Developement project.

Sōkō conservation for oversized sketches by Sorolla

Sorolla sketches represent the spontaneity, the genius and the creative stage for its own right. Their conservation shares with them this essentiality, the minimal intervention character. The restoration has adopted japanese tools and techniques, a paper conservation at the most eastern style. Or not that utmost, since the Karibari was replaced by a wooden board. Eastern or western, the restoration of the gouache sketches has been truly remarkable, and you'll have to read it to know why.

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.

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

“Customized” conservation with Richard Wolbers

Fellows of joys and sorrows, conservators, here is why I am so excited with the "Cleaning workshop: Paper bathing/stain removal", given by Wolbers: The idea is to make every conservation treatment a kind of custom-made dress for each particular object with a minimal initial investment. He speaks about solvents, gels, surfactants, conductivity and pH. Nor in my wildest dreams had I imagined such a close, easy and useful chemistry. Thanks a lot Richard, we owe it to you.

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

Flattening under tension on paper and parchment conservation

Wrinkles and folds are a usual damage in documents made of paper, cloth or parchment. The common way to restablish these supports to its original condition is by pressure: under weights or in a press. When the paper has a relief which must be preserved, it is then not possible to use pressure, as it would smash this relief. Flattening under tension may be an interesting alternative on certain occasions or when a selective flattened is needed. It takes advantage of the natural shrinkage of the paper when going from wet to dry, so that the tension is given by the same paper.

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.

Damned “sellotapes”!

Which damages cause sellotapes? Can we release documentary heritage from these fatty strips? Explanation for the degradation mechanisms of this historic "remedial" tapes that we can find in documents of all kinds, and restoration possibilities in each case.

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