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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

“Sugar, Sugar”: Preserving
a rare record of contentious import practices in early 20th century British Columbia

The whole poster after treatment

by Rebecca Pavitt
Pacific Conservators

In my last article, I wrote about the case against heavy backings for posters. Now I will write about an instance where backing a poster (actually poster fragments) was absolutely necessary.

A few years ago a client brought in pieces of a very rare poster protesting cheap sugar imports from China. The fragments were found between the studs of a house that had belonged to an employee of Rogers Sugar. They were heavily coated with soot, and discoloured. The worst areas were stained and weakened by mold. The fragments were unmatched sections from several posters. Of the six received, four could be overlain to create the illusion of a single whole poster.

A fragment of poster before treatment

The first step in treatment was to reduce the very heavy black surface dirt. The pieces were first wiped with several dry Swiffer cloths. They were then rubbed very gently with grated art gum eraser to remove as much residual dirt as possible.

The paperboard backings were dampened and carefully removed, and the fragments washed in several successive distilled water baths adjusted to pH 8. Washing removed an unbelievable amount of soluble discoloration, but did not return the paper to a pristine condition. No further attempts were made to clean the paper because it was so fragile.

To strengthen the fragments, they were backed with a thin handmade Japanese paper, using wheat starch paste. Holes and losses were filled with either wet pulp or paper inserts, and then the fills toned and inpainted with watercolour. The fragments were then given a second backing of heavy weight Japanese paper to increase strength and rigidity. Should the poster require conservation treatment in future, the heavy paper can be removed without disturbing the thin primary backing which literally holds all of the bits and pieces together.

The fragments were then placed in an overlapping arrangement, so they could be read as a whole poster. They were hinged top and bottom to an 8-ply alpha cellulose backboard, and horizontal strips of archival quality Mylar run across the fragments to keep the edges of the centre pieces from lifting up. (The reflection during photography causes these strips to appear white at the left of the “after” photograph).

The moral of this story is – never say never. It is important to know the general rules of good conservation practice, but every object and every treatment is unique.

For more information visit the FACTS (Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards) website at www.artfacts.org.

Previously: Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine
Next Issue: Recovering Images

 Fri, Apr 6, 2007