Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ghost Images on the Sketch Pad

CCAHA Senior Conservator Soyeon Choi examines
charcoal sketch pad.

Some of my father’s best charcoal sketches are in a sketch pad that’s bound with a metal spiral binding along the top edge.  When you open the sketch pad, you see the original image on the bottom sheet and a reversed ghost image on the paper that’s been lying directly on top of it.

This can’t be good for long-term preservation.  Charcoal is a very attractive artistic medium, but its tendency to transfer and smudge makes it notoriously difficult to preserve.

Soyeon Choi, Senior Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, agrees that the current sketch pad situation is not healthy.  Fortunately, the artwork itself has survived its 60+ year history in relatively good shape.  The transfer has been direct, with seemingly little smudging on the original drawings.

Soyeon recommends disbinding the sketchpad and saving each individual piece.  She works the spiral binding to determine how to pry each of the little circlets open.  This one is a little tricky so she adds, “If it’s a problem, just cut the binding right down the top.  Then carefully pry it open and delicately remove the paper.”

Soyeon suggests putting each of the sketches in a mat.  (“Eight ply mat would be beautiful;  four ply would be okay.”)  The object is to avoid that paper-on-paper contact that caused the ghosting.  The mat will protect the artwork from further transfer and smudging.  The mats can be either stored in acid-free boxes or framed and displayed. 
“Store them or display them.  They will look great,” Soyeon assures me.

Special thanks to Soyeon Choi for her consultations during the past two weeks!

Original charcoal portrait by Art Price and the ghost of
its image on the adjacent paper surface.

© 2011 Lee Price

1 comment:

  1. We should always pay attention to preserve such beautiful things.You are right that Charcoal is a very attractive artistic medium, but its tendency to transfer and smudge makes it very difficult to preserve.Thanks for your nice blog.