The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 6, Number 2
Apr 1982


What Paper Conservators are Expected to Know

The American Institute for Conservation has started certifying paper conservators by examination through its Board of Examiners. The following list gives an idea of what successful candidates are expected to know.

The certification procedure includes, in addition to written and oral exams, an examination of the facilities, equipment and work done at the applicant's place of work.

  1. Conservators' methods and techniques: including dry- cleaning, mending, making inserts, flattening, washing, bleaching, deacidification, tape removal, removing backings and adhesives, adhering backings, matting and framing; use of adhesives, papers, solvents and reagents; etc.
  2. Routine problems in paper conservation will be presented and the candidate will write up proposed treatments including the techniques and materials to be used. These problems may include: oil paint on paper or board, synthetic media, mixed media, collage, extra-large objects, three dimensional objects, decoupage or Schaerenschnitte (paper cut-out), embossed prints, wallpaper, etc.
  3. Causes and results of damage and deterioration: including use of improper materials and treatments, improper environmental conditions, inherent vice and accidental damage, etc.
  4. Acquaintance with related areas of paper conservation such as parchment, papyrus, tapa, palm leaf manuscripts, pith "tsuro rice" paper, synthetic paper, etc.
  5. Proper procedures: including light and climate control, storage, exhibition, handling, packing and shipping, records and reports, insurance, administration, etc.
  6. Personnel safety procedures.
  7. Professional ethics.
  8. Research questions including: materials and techniques of art and historic artifacts on paper: including history, composition and manufacturing methods, deterioration, testing, uses, and visual recognition of papers, media and drawing, graphic and painting techniques, etc. Elementary principles of chemistry and physics applied to conservation.

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