ELLEN PEARLSTEIN, LESLIE RANSICK-GAT, & JANE WILLIAMS
The focus on fill materials for this JAIC issue results from surveying the Objects Specialty Group (OSG) members in 1995 about their needs for professional literature. At that time, the OSG membership grappled with the idea of whether to begin developing a specialty group catalog. Research into the evolution and chapter lists of other specialty group catalogs led to the finding that the catalog format is unmanageable for our particularly diverse specialty. Also, the OSG members involved determined that our specialty group had lagged behind others in producing publications at the AIC annual meeting. Therefore, rather than start up work on a catalog, we shifted gears, formed an OSG Publications Committee, and made a commitment to publish the annual meeting Postprints. It is a testimonial to the dedicated membership that OSG Postprints have been published continuously since 1994.
In the 1995 survey, the OSG membership expressed an interest in review articles about treatment materials such as adhesives, consolidants, and fill materials. In addition, the need for annotated bibliographies was recognized, because the field of objects conservation draws its body of literature from often obscure technical, anthropological, and art historical sources. The Publications Committee of the OSG initiated two projects: the solicitation of review articles that could contribute to a JAIC issue on fill materials, and, concurrently, the compilation of references for an annotated bibliography on fill materials. We are delighted that the Journal that follows meets this first goal, and we are looking forward with great anticipation to the publication of the “companion” bibliography.
The nine articles that follow each review a selection of fill materials that might be applied to different types of objects. The articles provide practical, technical, or historical information useful to conservators as they choose materials for fills. While issues of long-term stability and reversibility are mentioned, these properties are not the primary focus of any single article.
Authors such as Meg Craft and Julie Solz compare the various properties of very familiar, reversible proprietary materials with some new materials still being reviewed for long-term use. Eleonora Nagy evaluates combinations of two different adhesives and seven commercial fillers to determine how the different materials affect the physical properties of the resultant mixtures. Michael Podmaniczky describes the options taken from both workshop and conservation practice that can be used to fill structural losses in wood. John Griswold and Sari Uricheck not only provide a review of traditional and conservation fill materials for stone, but they also describe the considerations involved in determining materials and approach.
Three of the authors share their particular expertise in the application of stable, synthetic materials to substrates for which visual compensation is difficult. Linda Nieuwenhuizen introduces some of the techniques and mixtures she has developed for simulating skin and fur. Marianne Webb describes the visual challenges and cultural issues presented by loss compensation on Asian lacquer, and how these considerations affect material choices. Sandra Davison details how she applies conservation-grade epoxy with a range of molding techniques to fill losses on transparent and translucent materials.
Finally, two of the articles describe some of the familiar or more obscure workshop mixtures that have been used for fills throughout history. Stephen Koob offers a review of obsolete fill materials found on ceramics and Jonathan Thornton discusses the traditional craftsman putties that still sometimes have applications in the conservation field. The information they provide will help today's conservator to better recognize and characterize these materials when they encounter them on objects in their care.
While these nine articles cannot possibly address the full range of materials for which fills are required, they represent an excellent start to what we hope will be a series of JAIC issues focusing on topics of special interest to objects conservators, and to the conservation field in general.