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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.

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!

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

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

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.

Conservation of school poster from spanish civil war period

This map represents the typical scholar posters: with its wooden slats to roll and hang, lined on the back. It was very common to varnish them with shellac to waterproof and protect them from abrasion. This one was made of two pieces of printed paper, sticked together along the central horizontal stripe. It is from 1936, spanish civil war was barely breaking. Removing the old varnish has allowed to repare other minor damages: tears, gaps and wrinkles. But most important is that the new varnish is not oxidizing nor yellowing. As it is very flexible it will not crack in the future.

Gone with the wind

I don’t like much having war books, but I must admit that this one is particularly beautiful. The velvet binding seemed to me a challenging issue on the restoration, which did not have major complications besides this. I show the restoration of this book because of the headaches it has given me when solving the lost areas, the wooden work. The considerable losses on a laborious woodcarving work, and the lack of originals of many of the missing pieces fairly complicated the subject (the shields on the corners were different).

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