Materials, equipment and procedures Category

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Respirator Fit Testing

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Putting the respirator onLast week I attended the American Institute for Conservation annual meeting. To keep up with my disaster response training, I went to all the sessions of particular interest to AIC-CERT (Collections Emergency Response Team) members. One session was on respirator fitness testing, including the actual fitness test. Before we could take the fitness test, we had to turn in a signed doctor’s statement of fitness. We reviewed how to put the mask on (chin in first) and clean it and then tested for a secure fit. As you can see, a bag is put over your head and then a scent is squirted into the bag. If you do not smell anything after you’ve moved your head from side to side, up and down, and read a statement, then you have a good fit. I’m happy to report that I past my test. Getting respirator fitness tested

We also a reviewed several brands and styles of disposable N95 particulate respirators that can be purchased at a local drugstore or online. The important thing is to make sure that the disposable respirator is rated N95 or higher. The N95 mask will provide you protection during limited exposure to molds, dust and other airborne particulates (not oil). As always you should consult with your doctor before using any type of respirator and follow whatever protocol has been established for your work area.Variety of disposal respirators

This, my very first AIC annual meeting, was a wonderful learning experience. I was able to attend thanks to a partial scholarship from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Map Conservation Challenge

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Map Before Conservation

Map Before Conservation

One particular map from the “History of the Expedition under the Command of Captain Lewis and Clark, 1814″ was a particular challenge. It presented a great opportunity to treat a very important map that was in much need of repair. The map, depicting Lewis and Clark’s route and the first map of the journey to be published, was in poor condition, with past mends of heavy paper, which caused stretching and stress to the paper. The map had also been backed, or adhered to linen in order to give the heavily used map more support, but it had been glued with an adhesive that was thick and degrading, causing yellowing and staining of the paper. The proposal was to remove the map from the book, remove the old lining and adhesive by aqueous means, wash, and then reline the map
Removing the Old Linen

Removing the Old Linen


onto a Korean hanji paper. The washing treatment would hopefully brighten the map overall, but also prolong the life of the paper by removing the old adhesive. The new lining would provide a stable, flexible support.

The old linen came away easily, but Giselle and Bill were in for much more work when it came to removing the adhesive. In many cases this simply floats away in the bath, but this adhesive was thick and viscous. It required a very gentle scrapping to even move it off the surface, done with soft bamboo spatulas, designed by NY area binder and conservator Jeff Peachy. Once the map is wet, it’s best to finish this process all in one day. Thankfully we started first thing in the morning!

Gently Removing Old Adhesive

Gently Removing Old Adhesive

After the adhesive removal was complete, the map was washed and relined onto hanji paper. This is a Korean paper, made in a similar way to Japanese washi, and made to meet conservation standards. The team enjoyed utilizing the sparkling new, oversize table, specifically designed for large flat work.
Free of Old Lining

Free of Old Lining

Preparing Hanji Paper Liner

Preparing Hanji Paper Liner

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Vinzani’s Papermaking class at PBI

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Submitted by Pamela Olson

Paper made with watermark at end of class.

Paper made with watermark at end of class.


Bernie Vinanzi, a veteran papermaker who trained at Twinrocker Handmade Paper and now teaches papermaking at the University of Maine at Machias, taught a workshop with a focus on paper history, fiber selection, and sheet formation. Workshop participants designed their own watermarks and made a wide range of textweight, Western-style paper from cotton, abaca, and hemp fibers.

Julie McLaughlin and Jana Dambrogio cutting out watermarks from vinyl lettering adhesive.

Julie McLaughlin and Jana Dambrogio cutting out watermarks from vinyl lettering adhesive.

Bill Hosterman forming sheets at the vat

Bill Hosterman forming sheets at the vat

Pamela Olson is a Graduate Student at UICB and Conservation Assistant for the University of Iowa Libraries Preservation & Conservation Department and attended Vinzani’s class. Images in this post are from the PBI Facebook page.

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Islamic Binding with Yasmeen Kahn

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Submitted by Kathleen Tandy

Dark brown book with almond shaped designFor my second session class at PBI, I took An Introduction to Islamic Binding with Yasmeen Kahn from the Library of Congress. She explained that in the Islamic tradition calligraphy is the most important aspect of book. The binding is secondary, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. She began the class by showing us pictures of wonderfully ornate bindings and then immediately told us we weren’t going to make those bindings. What we ended up making was even better, we based some of our designs on more everyday books. The main takeaway from the class was that there isn’t really a right or wrong when it comes to these types of bindings. The Islamic world spans such a large area that there isn’t a consistent style from place to place. Each place influences the other and styles were influenced by the times.

To begin with everyone in the class made a hard cover binding with an envelope flap. We painted end papers for the books and either pasted them up and burnished them or shellacked them to create a high sheen.

White plaquette with blue and gold almond shaped designFor our second item we could go as crazy as we wanted to. Some students made soft cover bindings and some of us made lacquer plaquettes. I made a plaquette loosely based on a Turkish binding. To create the plaquette I edged the board in leather and then added shellacked paper. I drew an almond shaped design in the middle and shellacked the paper again. I then added gold paint and shellacked again.

Fingernails painted goldTo end the class Yasmeen had us all paint our fingernails gold. This is a rare moment for my fingernails to be painted as nail polish can rub off onto items in the lab, but as Yasmeen said “In Islamic Binding there can never be too much gold!”

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Turning the Corner – Leather Paring with Jeff Altepeter

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Submitted by Kathleen Tandy

Plaquette with a KIn my first week session course at PBI, I took a leather paring class with Jeff Altepeter from the North Bennett Street School. The tricks I learned in his course were well worth the price of admissions. I feel so much more comfortable on the Sharf-fix paring machine and am more confident about my knife skills as well. Plaquette with inlayTo begin, we worked at paring leather as thin as we could to work on covering plaquettes. We also worked on paring leather thin enough to become onlay pieces. We learned how to use the ascona tool to create thin lines on our plaquettes which we would then lay in a very thin strip of leather.Ascona Tool

Notched board with endbands pasted upThe best trick that I learned all week was how to make stuck on endbands. This is something that I have done in the past and something that we occasionally do in the lab, but the process is usually a messy and gluey one. With Jeff’s trick it is simple and painless.

To begin you take a piece of book board and make a notch on either side. Then you take a piece of thread or cord and stretch it across the board and catch it in the notches. Next glue or paste up your endband material, in this case leather, and slip it under the cord. Fold the endband material over the cord and press into place with your fingers or a bone folder. Then leave to dry. It is as simple as that!Close up of endband

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University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Now on the Road

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Exhibit flyerSeveral items from the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections are now a part of the exhibit “Marking Territory, Cartographic Treasures of the Mississippi River and the World Beyond,” March 2- June 16, 2013 at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. http://www.figgeartmuseum.org/

Curator Rima Girnius from the Figge, worked with Mary McInroy and Greg Prickman to select 17 maps, 3 books and 1 copperplate for this exhibit which explores “how maps communicate highly complex ideas about identity, politics, and culture.” After selecting the objects for the show, the items were documented and prepared for exhibit by the Conservation Staff. Giselle Simón, Bill Voss, and Kat Tandy of Conservation, with the help of graduate student Pamela Olson, completed repairs, fabricated mounts, and framed the maps for delivery and installation at the Figge on February 28, 2013.

Conservation team

–submitted by Giselle Simón

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Preservation Pencil in Action

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Preservation Pencil View with Water TankThe Conservation lab recently acquired a Preservation Pencil from Preservation Equipment Ltd. It takes cold moisture from an ultrasonic humidifier and heats it to any desired temperature up to 100 C, producing a thin stream of fine, heated mist suitable for local humidification where it is not possible or desirable to humidify the entire object. Applications include flattening of folds and creases and removal of tapes and adhesives.Preservation Pencil Close Up

Appying humdification to remove old guard.

Appying humdification to remove old guard.


Flattening creases prior to digitizing item.

Flattening creases prior to digitizing item.

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Teaching Moments at CRC

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Intern Assisting With Vaccuming Canvas PieceAll the work on the artwork damaged by Hurrican Sandy is done by volunteers. It’s a great opportunity for an intern to learn about assessing and cleaning paintings while on the job with a volunteer conservator. Today we had a student volunteer who is studying to become a paintings conservator. She assisted the volunteer conservator, had the opportunity to meet with two artists and work on several different pieces of art. Here she is assisting with vacuuming a canvas. You can already see the difference where they have cleaned.
Artist Cleaning Canvas Stretcher
Sometimes the best person to clean artwork is the artist because he/she knows the piece very intimately. The artist knows what materials were used to create the work and what the original looked like. For instance, the charcoal pieces that I was working with were smeared. Since I don’t know what the original looked like, I am the not the best person to clean the artwork — the artist is. I taught an artist’s assistant how to clean artwork on paper. She knows his work intimately and can consult with the artist as needed.

The paintings conservator worked with an another artist today and taught her how to vacuum clean her works on canvas. I also showed her how to clean the canvas wood stretchers. Since the wood stretchers are made of soft, porous wood, the frames will eventually need to be replaced. In the meantime, some of the mold has been cleaned off, reducing health risks.

There is no way that we can clean all the artwork in the time we have at the CRC. By training others on basic cleaning, we increase our “cleaning power.” Plus the work can continue once the CRC is closed.

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Busy Day at the Cultural Recovery Center in Brooklyn

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Testing for Mold

Testing for Mold

We had a very busy day at the Cultural Recovery Center in Brooklyn. The volunteer paintings conservator examined a couple of paintings that an artist brought in during the morning, just before noon she removed an artwork from a frame and examined the piece for mold and damage, in the afternoon she examined art on canvas and tested for mold.

Cleaning a Wooden Object

Cleaning a Wooden Object

The volunteer object conservator spent most of the day cleaning a wooden object with a vacuum cleaner, brush and soot sponge.

Vacuuming a Canvas

Vacuuming a Canvas

An artist’s daughter-in-law spent several hours vacuuming his artwork on canvas.

I spent the day assisting the paintings conservator photodocumenting each piece that she examined and spent a couple hours inspecting art on paper for mold.

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Assessment and Cleaning

Monday, February 11, 2013

AssessmentToday I spent most of the day inspecting close to 150 art works on paper for mold. It’s very time consuming. The front and back of each piece of art needed to be entirely visually inspected — each inch. I only found a handful that I thought a paper conservator should take a second look at. With reassurance that the pieces are free of mold, the artist can take his time making decisions on how to deal with his water-damaged works.

CleaningTwo volunteer conservators spent the day at the center cleaning the backs of artwork on canvas with a soot sponge. The paintings had already been treated and vacuumed. They finished the entire group and the paintings are ready to be picked up by the artist.