THE DEVELOPMENT OF A RESEARCH APPROACH TO THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF CELLULOSIC AND LIGNEOUS MATERIALS
HELEN D. BURGESS, & NANCY E. BINNIE
THE VIKANE project is the most complex and broadly based projects ever carried out in the field of paper and textiles by the Canadian Conservation Institute. It involves 25 separate fiber types ranging in age from 1622 to modern. Ten different analytical procedures are being employed in monitoring the effect of sulphuryl fluoride on the long-term chemical and physical stability of cellulosic and ligneous fibers. The project has involved an unusual amount of time and effort to plan and setup. It has also drawn heavily upon our past experience with other scientific projects in cellulose and lignin. The detailed account of the initial stages in the investigations given in this article should be useful to conservators and other research scientists in the following ways:
- it will provide a valuable reference for understanding and evaluating the data and conclusions that will be presented in the articles at the completion of the project;
- background information concerning the chemistry of sulphuryl fluoride and its interactions with cellulose and lignin will be useful in defining how the conclusions from this project will relate to the Vikane fumigation of cellulosic and ligneous substrates other than those of paper and textile origin;
- it outlines how sample materials have been selected to satisfy a) the constraints of the analytical methods used, and b) the need to have our results apply to the broad range of old and new material found in museum collections;
- descriptions of how the chemistry of the system under study influenced decisions regarding what chemical and physical parameters would be monitored during the project should be of general use to anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the behavior of cellulosic and ligneous fibers;
- discussion of the benefits and disadvantages of the different analytical techniques used in this project relates to other scientific studies that make use of these same scientific procedures, irrespective of whether fumigation is involved in the investigation. For example, this research approach has been of vital importance in the planning and execution of another project in our laboratory that involves the short- and long-term effects of deacidification on paper (a joint project with the Canadian Council of Archives).
THE AUTHORS would like to thank J. C. McCawley, Chief, Conservation Processes Research Division of the Canadian Conservation Institute, for his help and encouragement during both the carrying out of the project and the writing of this paper. They also acknowledge the assistance of Mark Boyle, Assistant Conservation Scientist, Environment and Deterioration Research Services Division, CCI, in carrying out the GC/MS analysis; and Deb Rennie, Assistant Conservation Scientist, Conservation Processes Research Division, CCI, in setting up the fluoride ion-specific electrode analysis. The Canadian Conservation Institute acknowledges the financial assistance of the Getty Conservation Institute in carrying out the Vikane project.
An annotated bibliography of the pertinent literature of the Vikane project may be obtained by writing to the Scientific Department of the Getty Conservation Institute, 4503 Glenco Avenue, Marina del Rey, CA 90292