Treating A Keith/Albee Scrapbook

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

Kate examining the stability of the pages.
Kate examining the stability of the pages.
Our second project this summer is assisting with the treatment of several scrapbooks from the Keith Albee collection. Our work was being overseen by Candida Pagan, Project Conservator. The goal for our treatment is to stabilize the delicate structures for digitization. Picture 1 shows Kate examining the stability of the pages.

The Keith Albee collection includes a large number of scrapbooks that contain news articles, reviews, and programs from the Albee Theater in Rhode Island in the first half of the 20th century. To put it in better context, while examining Scrapbook #78, we found several pages dedicated to Ms. Fanny Brice, a famous vaudeville actress who was famously portrayed by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 musical, Funny Girl.

Most of the work needed for the scrapbooks included flattening of creases, removal of loose items, and repair to

Kate is using humidification to flatten creases in the paper.
Kate is using humidification to flatten creases in the paper.
the leather corners of the cover. Any loose items were placed in folders marked with the location within the book they came from so that they can be properly included during digitization.

Documenting and Treating Scrolls: Part 3 Final

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

Picture 1: Kate dipping the tissue through an acrylic paint bath.
Picture 1: Kate dipping the tissue through an acrylic paint bath.
The Buddhist scrolls from the Ficke collection had experienced pretty significant insect damage which greatly increased the risk of damage during handling. In order to stabilize the paper structure, Kate and I performed some basic paper mends using a remoistenable tissue. We had previously tested the inks to make sure that they were not water soluble, but we wanted to avoid exposing the scrolls to excessive moisture because tidelines easily formed and the sheets composing the scrolls were most likely adhered together using a starch-based paste.

We selected several types of Japanese tissue to prepare for the mending and began by first toning them with acrylic paint to better match the color of the scroll (Picture 1).

Picture 2: Area of loss traced on tissue.
Picture 2: Area of loss traced on tissue.
Next, a 50/50 mixture of methylcellulose and paste was brushed over the surface, and the tissues were allowed to dry.

To mend the paper, the area of loss was traced on the tissue using a needle point (Picture 2). A protective, transparent piece of Mylar was placed between the scroll and the mending tissue while tracing. Now comes the “remoistenable” phase of the treatment. The paste and methyl cellulose mixture becomes reactivated in a 1:1 mixture of water and ethanol. The mend was placed on a piece of Plexiglas or cotton blotter and the ethanol/water mix was brushed over the tissue (Picture 3). A tweezer was used to place the mend onto the loss on the paper surface (Picture 4), and then a blotter and weight are placed on top to help the repair to dry flat (Picture 5). All of the repairs were applied to the back of the scrolls so as not to interfere with the manuscript, and Picture 6 shows what a large section of mends look like after drying.

Picture 3
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 5
Picture 6
Picture 6

Documenting and Treating Scrolls: Part 2

Friday, July 15, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

Dry cleaning is the first step in most, if not all conservation treatments. Loose dirt and soil buildup collects on exposed portions of the object, in this case on the outermost part of the scroll. Additional dirt can find its way onto the surface of the object when it is handled with dirty hands. Soft brushes, vulcanized rubber sponges, and vinyl erasers are most commonly used in dry cleaning works of art and archival materials.

Dry cleaning with soot sponges to reduce surface soil buildup.
Dry cleaning with soot sponges to reduce surface soil buildup.
Overview shot displaying a comparison of before and after dry cleaning.  The five vertical columns of script on the left have been cleaned.
Overview shot displaying a comparison of before and after dry cleaning. The five vertical columns of script on the left have been cleaned.
A close up shot of dry cleaning with a soot sponge.
A close up shot of dry cleaning with a soot sponge.

Documenting and Treating Scrolls: Part 1

Thursday July 7, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

We are both graduate students at Buffalo State College Art Conservation Department. We are spending the summer at the University of Iowa Library Conservation Laboratory partaking in a practicum of treatment and care of library and archives material. Using theory and techniques learned during the school year, we will work to gain hand skills and real world experience in conservation treatments working side-by-side with conservators at the University.

Our first project includes photo documentation and treatment of several scrolls from the Ficke Collection. Each one is over 20 feet long and all have suffered extensive insect damage making their handling unsafe.

Picture 1 : Bailey Kinsky photographing a scroll from the Ficke Collection. The Photographic set up includes a neutral grey background, color checker, and a ruler to aid in accurate representation of the actual object.
Picture 2: Katarzyna Bator (left) and Bailey Kinsky (right) unrolling a scroll from the Ficke Collection for photo documentation.
Picture 3: Bailey Kinsky assessing the condition of the scrolls and testing ink solubility.

Photographing a scroll
Unrolling a scroll
Assessing condition