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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!

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!

“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.

Tracing paper conservation, berliner style

I never enjoy anything as much as visiting other paper restoration studios, especially if they are private. They usually bear the imprint of a personal vocation, a personality which is barely present at institutional studios. I watch the space distribution, the tools, the jars... at Hildegard Homburger's studio. Is there a better way to nose around than becoming a berliner restorer for two days?

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

I have mold! (…or is it foxing?)

Foxing is mould... or not? One of the main concerns in archives and libraries is the presence of mould. Not surprisingly: it develops without fanfare, and when it is detected, an irreversible loss of information might have taken place. Before pulling your hair out, you should identify whether the symptoms actually reveal fungal activity, or not. Not an easy assessment.

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.

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.

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