Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick Sketches, Before and After

The treatments are finished!  This is the ninth in a 12-part series on selected conservation treatments of artwork and photographs.  "Preserving a Family Collection" concludes on September 1.

Surface cleaning a quick sketch by June Anderson.

My mother drew dozens of these quick sketches while attending Traphagen School of Fashion from 1948 to 1950.  Some of them are sloppy but more than a handful are pretty great – on a par with the best of her finished pieces.  My favorite is the one of the woman lying down, chin propped up on fists.  From the start, I’ve thought that some of these sketches deserve to be conserved, matted, framed, and displayed.

Rachel Wetzel, Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, performed the treatments on these four pieces.  She surface
Rachel Wetzel surface
cleaning a quick sketch.
cleaned them, working cautiously around the graphite artwork, before bathing them in a series of blotter washes, which significantly reduced the discoloration and acidity in the paper support.

Ultimately, I’d like to bring more of these sketches in for conservation treatment.  As with much preservation, I need to view this as a long-term process.  These four sketches are ready to share with the world, the rest I’ll put into long-term (and non-acidic) storage, and then plan to return for additional professional conservation treatments as money becomes available or as an occasional holiday splurge (for instance, a happy-birthday-to-me present).

Rachel endorses this long-term plan and strongly cautions against making any amateur attempts at home conservation treatment.  “Don’t encourage do-it-yourselfers,” she said.  “They can do a lot of damage.” And causing additional damage is the last thing that you want to do when working to preserve a family collection.

First quick sketch, before treatment.

First quick sketch, after treatment.

Second quick sketch, before treatment.

Second quick sketch, after treatment.

Third quick sketch, before treatment.

Third quick sketch, after treatment.

Fourth quick sketch, before treatment.

Fourth quick sketch, after treatment.

© 2011 Lee Price

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