Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Fabric Study, Before and After

The treatments are finished!  This is the second in a 12-part series on selected conservation treatments of artwork and photographs.  "Preserving a Family Collection" concludes on August 31.

Detail of the fabric study by June Anderson.

Detail of the fabric study.
My mother did this study of four curtain fabrics while studying at Traphagen School of Fashion, 1948-1950.  She received a B+ on it, but frankly I think it looks like better than B+ work!

Marion Verborg, 2010-2011 N.E.A. Fellow at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, performed the beautiful conservation treatment on this piece.  She surface cleaned it, mended the separating paper, reduced a stain, reinforced the delaminated corners, humidified and flattened it.

With a piece like this, the conservator’s first concern is to ensure that the treatment will not cause
any damage to the actual artwork.  This
Detail of the fabric study.
particular study was done with a variety of color inks and watercolor.  Since much of a conservator’s work involves use of humidity, it’s imperative to first determine if the colors will run or bleed when moistened.  When inks are involved, each color needs to be tested.  Marion tested the blacks, greys, and greens on this piece, ensuring that it would be safe to move ahead with proposed treatments that included humidification and stain removal.  The testing showed no water sensitivity, meaning that everything could proceed as planned.

Originally, my mother had placed a piece of tissue paper over the artwork, attaching it to the top of the board with a paper clip.  Paper clips don’t age well
and can be nasty to paper, leaving dents and
stains.  In this case, the tracing paper took most of the rust stain, leaving only a small stain and dent near the top of the board.  Marion removed the paper clip and reduced the stain with a cotton swab and calcium-enriched deionized water.

Everything I give to the conservator gets returned.  When the treatment was completed, I received a beautiful fabric study (looks like new!) and a rusty paper clip safely removed to a plastic bag.  I’m not keeping the paper clip – the artwork is great but I attach no sentimental value to old paper clips.

Fabric study by June Anderson, before treatment.

Fabric study by June Anderson, after treatment.
© 2011 Lee Price

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