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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

Conservation Corner Back

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith
wood block print

by Rebecca Pavitt

Who was Elizabeth Keith?? Those in the know can skip this part, but if you are like me, the answer was – “Qui?”

As I have since learned, she was a self-taught British artist who, in 1915, travelled to Tokyo to visit her sister. Long story short, she fell in love with the Orient, and held an exhibit of locally inspired watercolours and drawings, that caught the attention of Shosaburo Watanabe.

Before treatment

After treatment

Watanabe was a publisher with a vision and an art marketer extraordinaire. He revived the dying art of woodblock printing by encouraging artists to incorporate Western aesthetics into traditional ukiyo-e style and themes. The resulting hybrid became known as the Shin Hanga (“New Print”), and, as so cleverly planned by Watanabe, prints of this genre became best sellers in North America and Europe.

Watanabe encouraged Keith to work with wood block cutters to translate her watercolours into prints. By the time she left Japan in 1924, she had published over a hundred prints with him, and put on successful shows in Japan, London and New York.

Lama Temple Peking was printed in 1922. It came to my studio with discoloured and damaged margins, so typical of many Japanese wood block prints. In addition, there was light overall discolouration, a rust stain on the right margin and some localized fading of the red colour.

The challenge with these types of prints is to clean them without disturbing the colour. In this case, the print was floated on a deionized water bath with an EDTA chelating agent. The EDTA helps draw out discolouration, making for quicker and more efficient cleaning, reducing the time that the print is exposed to water. EDTA also binds with metal ion, and so reduces the chance of future metal catalyzed chemical reactions. Float washing allows discolouration to be drawn out from the reverse, without having to immerse the more sensitive front.

The margins were further treated with dilute hydrogen peroxide bleach applied locally with a brush. The print was rinsed by floating on successive deionized water baths, and transferring to a suction table, where the margins were further rinsed.

Losses in the upper right margin were filled with paper inserts cut from Japanese kozo paper, and set in place using methylcellulose adhesive. At the owner’s request, areas where the red colour had faded were lightly toned with watercolour.

One of the many pleasures of conservation is learning about the passions of my different clients. This has introduced me to a wide variety of artists and images that I might otherwise never have discovered, a lovely perk of the profession.

Previously: Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr
Next Issue: Emily Carr Frame Restoration

 Mon, Apr 16, 2007