AIC 2011, Day Three Notes

#AIC2011 is officially over except for the Angels Project tomorrow. Today’s talks were very technical, so please do your own research before utilizing any of this information. As always feel free to contribute comments and notes for us here.

Thanks AIC for a great meeting, see you in Albuquerque in 2012. By the way, the theme of AIC2012 is outreach…maybe us blogging conservators can get in on the presentation action.

Nicoas de Fer’s L’Amerique Wall Map: A Look into the Ethical Dilemmas Resulting from Past Restorations
Doris St-Jacques and Maria Bedynski, Library and Archives Canada

  • Beavers walking upright!
  • “L’Amerique Divisee selon Letendue de ses Pricipales Parties” 1739 edition, very cockled, tenting, lined with heavy acidic paper, tears, losses.
  • Previous repair reversed a text panel; infilled with Italian text while the map is in French; printed engraving infill from another source in different pattern, randomly inserted small pieces of text for infills in areas unrelated; ink scribble on exposed backing paper; decorative marbled paper border added around edges to hide damaged edges; opaque white paint in spots; title panel had another “Europe” title panel underneath; basically it is a mess.
  • Treatment: humidifying the overlap to separate into its two sections; all text panels separated into sections and washed; backing paper and adhesive removed; map panels washed on the suction table by spraying out and brushing; sized with a one percent gelatin solution applied with brush; remaining panels were pulp filled by hand and lined with thin tissue
  • Laponite poultice used to remove adhesive residue.
  • Map reassembled and lined with double lining method: oversized sheet of Dacron (terylene) pasted to a light wall (vertical light table), Kizukishi sheets were pasted to the Dacron in sections and dried, then the four center panels of map were humidfied and pasted out, Kizukishi also pasted out while attached to the Dacron/light wall, and then the map panels applied to it.
  • Once it was all dry, removed from light wall, dacron removed, edges trimmed. Final lining with Kurotani sheets to the verso of the map.
  • Mylar overlay with previous infills; adhered with Lascaux; so you can see where they were on the original map; printed reference panel with original textual informations was also applied to mylar overlay so you could see where they originally were.
  • Light wall! light box attached to wall, very big! used for lining and other repairs; sheets of frosted glass with fluorescent lights behind it. We all need one of these.

Using Magnets as a Conservation Tool: A New Look at Tension Drying Damaged Vellum Documents
Tammy Jordan, Etherington Conservation Center

  • Society of the Cincinnati Certificate, 1785, severely cockled vellum with insect damage and small losses; intentional cuts throughout document that were oversewn with thread to repair them
  • Client wanted to display the document so it needed to be flattened; prior repairs were decided to be integral to the provenance and left as is.
  • Jean Portell “Prior Repairs: When should they be preserved?” 42(2) JAIC, was used as a reference.
  • Methods for tension drying vellum include tension drying, vacuum table and flattening under pressure under blotters. All were not appropriate for this object.
  • Rare earth magnets were used, attracted to each other, pull force listed in lbs., shape, size and thickness vary; they used 11/16th inch diameter x 1/32” thickness; with pull force of 1.63 pounds; always test magnets prior to treatment on a similar piece to determine what strength magnet you should use; covered magnets with holytex; if stronger magnet is needed she put a bit of fleece underneath. Be cautious about denting the surface!
  • Gwen Spicer (11/2010) “Defying Gravity With Magnetism” AIC News 35(6), used for reference.
  • Humidified object in chamber, but it was difficult; transferred to surface and magnets applied and moved often while drying so that magnet wasn’t in one area too long to avoid marking (support areas of losses especially)
  • Problems included the vellum drying out too fast even with Mylar over it.
  • Revisions to the treatment proposal: needed to localize humidification rather than overall humidification, work from center out (rather than edges inward); separate points of reference for each section.
  • Magnets placed along edges of each section and dried under tension; fills done with 3% gelatin solution and leaf cast paper 

A Comprehensive In-situ Approach for the Analysis of Illuminated Manuscripts and Drawings
Paola Riccciardi, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

  • Looked at 14th and 15th C Italian illuminated manuscripts, cuttings, single leaves and bound volumes)
  • Imaging spectroscopy (reflectance and luminescence), fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (fors), x-ray fluorescence (X-RF), infrared reflectrography (IRR)
  • Imaging spectroscopy, low noise, four magapixel Si_CCD camera, Fis/NIR lens, 25mm FL, spatial resolution approx. 120 dpi; illumination is two 4700K Solux lamps with diffusers; light levels approx 200 lux, 12 interference filters
  • Multiple analytical techniques can be effectively coupled to produce more accurate and informative results (e.g. reflectance and luminescence imaging spectroscopy).

Balancing Ethics and Restoration in the Conservation Treatment of an 18th Century Sewing Box with Tortoiseshell Veneer
Lori Trusheim, Conservator in Private Practice

  • Late 18th Century, Palais Royal Sewing box, held extreme sentimental value to client
  • Lifting, warped and missing tortoiseshell veneer; missing mother of pearl inlay, missing ivory veneer.
  • Treatment aimed to stabilize areas of lifting; decided to humidify and flatten in place and add detachable fill.
  • For fill, options included epoxy, faux tortoiseshell, Tordonshell (patent pending), transparent acetate film, or using historic materials (horn, plastics; not an option for this particular treatment).
  • AIC code of ethics consulted for advice on whether this fill could be done ethically, and whether a vintage torotoiseshell could be ethically used under CITES as sea turtles are an endangered species.
  • Ethics: restoration is allowed under AIC Code of Ethics and ICOM definition of conservation; extent is guided by final use of the box (in her mind).
  • Role of subjectivity came into mind; she saw the distortion as a part of history not to be changed, but she now feels she should have been looking at the box from a decorative arts/furniture viewpoint; extensive intervention is allowed as long as long-term preservation is primary result.
  • What is the function of object? how will it be handled? have long-term preservation needs been met? can it be justified to remove original material in order to preserve and restore object closer to its original appearance?
  • Jonathon Ashley-Smith’s article in  Conservation Principles, Dilemmas and Uncomfortable Truths (2009) used as reference along with Barbara Applebaum’s Conservation Treatment Methodology.

Made in the USA: Physical Evidence in Early American Bindings at the National Archives and Records Administration
Jana Dambrogio, NARA

  • “Rough journal” collection contains many early American bindings, they are trying to use existing known and attributed works to identify unattributed bindings to Aitken, Trickett and other early American binders.
  • Non adhesive minimal intervention is chosen for this collection to preserve evidence of early binding history.
  • Procedures: Practicing minimal intervention; capture info as bindings come into lab for treatment; acquiring reference prints of tools used by GPO from 1860- to i.d. bindings in NARA’s holdings; building a binding database to i.d. binding format and binder
  • Teach students; consult w/ experts; encourage the consistent use of cradles; acquire copies of Spawn and French’s rubbings for known American binders for reference
  • How can we find out all this info? use minimal intervention techniques, talk to colleagues,
  • Lesson: If you take away its evidence the object loses its voice. So how can conservation address physical issues while maintaining integrity of historical evidence?
  • Audience comments: do less repair and more boxing to save originals for study later; original components can be retained, horrible what library binding protocols have done in the past to destroy evidence

Solving the Ptolemy Puzzle
Eliza Spaulding, Mellon Fellow, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Sylvia Albro, Library of Congress

  • Ptolemy, “Geographia” 1513
  • Hand colored map with color printing, map is double folio fold out, bound tightly and causing damage; prior repairs were done sometime in the 20th Century that are damaging the maps and binding.
  • What is the date/origin of binding? are maps from same printing/source? is hand coloring contemporary to its printing? why are only seven of maps in poor condition? how can maps be treated?
  • Binding previously repaired by cutting spine folds, separating into clumps and oversewn onto sawn in cords, lined with paper and cloth, very stiff; maps tipped to extended guards with a reinforcing strip on opposite side of guard, compensating strips on top of guard; structure prevented access to gutter portion of maps and crated creases and cracks
  • Treatments are being explored to slow copper green pigment deterioration; X-RF is being used to study the pigments.

Light Bleaching: Scientific Investigation of Various Effects on Different Properties of Several Old Papers
Marion Verborg, Paper Conservation Fellow, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Art and Artifacts

  • Light bleaching used for textiles for many centuries; sunlight on damp grass or in various alkaline baths
  • Used less during  the 19thC because of new chemical bleaching agents
  • 1980 saw a revival of the method, artificial light started to be used
  • Advantages of artificial light: can be used anytime of day/year, spectral distribution can be controlled, distance from light source can be adjusted
  • 2001 introduction of the metal halide lamps (used in greenhouses); light used at PMA is 1000 watts)
  • Goals are to improve aesthetic qualities; increase visibility of dark or illegible areas; remove by rinsing or stabilize by alkaline bath
  • applications: yellowing, window mat burn, tide lines, darkening due to contact with acidic materials; not efficient on mold stains or metallic stains or lignin-containing paper
  • Experimented with a variety of papers, rag, wood pulp and lignin-containing. Best results with rag.

A Comparison of the Use of Sodium Metabisulfite and Sodium Dithionite for Removing Rust Stains from Paper
Seth Irwin, Alaska Paper Conservation

  • The Devil’s Thumb Climbing Log: manuscript on paper with multiple severe rust stains
  • Iron (III) is not soluble in water so a reducing agent is needed (sodium dithionite/sodiumhydrosulfite); use a chelating agent to allow solubilized iron to be reduced
  • Sodium dithionite is a spontaneously combustable substance, requires hazmat shipping, sulfuric fumes, absolutely requires the use of fume hood, expensive
  • Sodiumhydrosulfite Na2So2O4; adding one oxygen yields Na2S2O5 (sodium metabisulfite) which is also a reducing agent used in photography, does not require hazmat shipping, less expensive, far less toxic, dos not require the use of fume hood, not as expensive
  • Results sodium dithionite: removed all corrosion in all samples; sodium metabisulfite removed minor stains but not heavy stains
  • When to use sodium dithionite: when cost is not a concern; when treatment time is a concern; on very heavy rust deposits; if you have VERY good ventilation; if you are in a location that can receive hazmat shipments
  • When to use sodium metabisulfite: when cost is a concern; when treatment time is not a concern; on most light to medium rust stains; if good ventilation is a concern; if you are in a location that cannot receive hazmat shipments easily; with oversize artifacts that are too big for a fume hood and you don’t have a good above-sink extraction system
  • Precautions: both reducing agents react specifically with iron compounds, must test before starting treatment; extended washing times needed; if all iron (II) is not cleared the solution will re-oxidize somewhere else on the paper; sodium dithionite is VERY hazardous and should be used in a fume hood w/ appropriate safety attire
  • Extreme caution and warning of further needs for experimentation!



  • Iron Out is commercially available and chemically close to these solutions. Iron Out is now called White Brite (laundry additive, combination of Sodium Metabisulfite and Sodium Dithionite), Seth couldn’t get anyone to ship White Brite to Alaska, and there is no EDTA so you would need to add it; Edmundson uses it locally and rinses it with water on a suction table with no EDTA additive.
  • Metabisulfite pH of starting bath and ending bath were very similar; not so for dithionite; he followed up washing with another wash of buffered water


Treatment of an Oversize Rare Book: Research and Decisions on Rebinding (pre-program student paper)
Eveylyn Mayberger, Intern, National Museum of the American Indian

  • “The Architecture of Leon Batista Alberti” by Cosimo Bartoli 1726
  • Washed, tape removal, sun bleaching of frontispiece with 3% hydrogen peroxide wash, page mends and fills, resewn on seven raised cords with structural raised headbands and adhered segmented spine linings
  • English binding with linen and paper (funding not available for full leather); retained plate placements but oriented all plates w/ image on recto
  • 462 treatment hours (180 hours on page mends and fills)

6 Responses

  1. Thanks so much Beth for sharing your copious notes.

  2. Thanks Beth for your generous sharing of your copious notes.

  3. Great Job Beth!!!!!! Thanks for this.

  4. […] For more notes on these talks, and others, please visit Preservation & Conservation Administration News. […]

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