JAIC 2002, Volume 41, Number 1, Article 6 (pp. 91 to 103)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2002, Volume 41, Number 1, Article 6 (pp. 91 to 103)

BOOK REVIEWS



BOOK REVIEWS

SHERELYN OGDEN, THE STORAGE OF ART ON PAPER: A BASIC GUIDE FOR INSTITUTIONS. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 2001. Occasional Paper 210. 30 pages, softcover, $8.00. Available from Graduate School of Library and Information Science Publications Office, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign, Ill. 61820. ISBN 0-87845-119-6.

The Storage of Art on Paper: A Basic Guide for Institutions, by Sherelyn Ogden, summarizes practical aspects of storing and handling works of art on paper supports. It is intended to be “a handy guide … to choosing proper storage locations and enclosures” and to show that “preventive care is ‘easily accomplished and relatively inexpensive,’” as the publisher's news release of July 18, 2001, claims. After a brief introduction, the contents are divided into sections on selecting storage locations, enclosures, and furniture; these are further divided into subsections that consider various environmental, security, physical, and chemical issues important to making an appropriate selection. Types of enclosures and storage furniture and factors to consider in oversize storage and routine handling are also reviewed in separate sections. “Suggested Further Reading” lists mainly recent storage-and handling-guideline compilations for works on paper. There are no illustrations, unfortunately; these would have illuminated some of Ogden's points.

According to Ogden, the intended audience is “institutions” (p. 1). A more specific primary audience—professionals working in libraries holding flat works of art on paper as well as books—can be inferred from the mandate of the publication (concerned with “aspects of librarianship”) and Ogden's professional expertise. She is a trained librarian with extensive experience as a practicing library and archives conservator. The publisher's news release confirms only that the booklet is intended for “professionals needing to store and preserve works of art on paper.” In addition, the publisher, but not the author, claims that “this handy guide is essential for conservation staff and for students in conservation and preservation programs.”

Because its mandate is instructional, this booklet must offer its intended audience well-researched, factual, accurate, up-to-date, and practical information. It must be detailed enough for the institutional professional to put its recommendations into practice. To some extent, the booklet succeeds. Yet the issues involved in providing safe storage at reasonable cost for works of art on paper, as for all cultural artifacts, are complex, highly technical, and often inter-related. Scientific research into issues of appropriate storage environment and materials is conducted with the expectation that it will provide guidelines to be followed by nonscience and nontechnical professionals, in this case librarians, who are typically in charge of overseeing the application of scientific findings in the real world. The original information has been interpreted both by the author and by the writers of manuals referenced in the endnotes so that it can be readily understood by persons unfamiliar with the issues raised.

Can simplification and accuracy coexist since, in the process of simplification, information will be excluded? Choosing what to omit and what to stress is never easy. As a result, inaccuracies can and do creep into the text. For example, Ogden says that “cold storage with controlled humidity is sometimes advisable for … certain infrequently used works of art, such as some photographic materials” (p. 2). However, what the reader needs to know is that certain types of photographs, particularly chromogenic color prints, are inherently unstable, fading relatively quickly, and that this process can be slowed only by cold storage, no matter how often the objects have to be consulted. Probably the guiding principle in writing such a manual should be to describe in a straightforward but not oversimplified fashion situations commonly encountered and for other situations to refer the reader in endnotes to the primary sources for clarification and amplification.

In the subsection on “Light,” Ogden introduces approaches to controlling exposure to light and notes that, instead of applying blanket recommendations to all works of art on paper, recently “aesthetic concerns and varying rates of light fading for different media [are] being considered” (p. 3). A note directing readers to the original publication would allow them to put this recommendation into practice. A serious omission occurs in the next paragraph, which discusses, at some length, the use of filters to control UV radiation from various light sources (pp. 3–4): the reader is not alerted to the need to test filters for effectiveness before purchase (since not all vendors produce the same materials), to monitor filters during use for continuing effectiveness, or to change them periodically. Nor is the reader warned that the test results obtained from other institutions must be used with caution since vendors may suddenly change proprietary product formulations without alerting consumers. Elsewhere in the text, readers need to be cautioned that reagent stains can cause permanent marks and must never be used directly on works of art (pp. 7–8). Readers also need to know that acids in secondary papers are neutralized by an alkaline reserve only for a finite, but unquantifiable, period of time (p. 8), and so on.

Unfortunately most endnotes refer the reader to the recent secondary literature, to compilations of digested information similar to this booklet, rather than to the primary studies. To meet the needs of conservation and preservation students and of many conservation staff and some library professionals, references to original sources are required to encourage critical evaluation of the basis for recommendations. For conservation students in particular the text should be more detailed, technical, and nuanced. They, after all, will soon be the professionals the author advises readers to consult for further information (p. 8).

So that readers make the fullest use of this material, it is important to describe cause-and-effect relationships adequately. This type of description can be difficult to do in a limited space. For example, the subsection “Temperature and Relative Humidity” contains the warning that very low RH may lead to desiccation and embrittlement of “certain components of works of art” (p. 2). It is crucial that the consequence of improper handling is clear, especially that flexing can split the paper support and cause media layers to flake away. Only if it is spelled out can the author be certain that all readers have grasped these relationships.

Ogden repeatedly recommends the use of storage materials that meet “preservation standards.”This terminology is vague and elusive. Materials should be stable, they should be physically and chemically nondamaging to the objects they are intended to protect, and they should meet ANSI standards (described on p. 9) where these exist. An opportunity is missed to give readers the vocabulary necessary to evaluate the relevant literature critically and to learn to communicate on an appropriate level with professionals in cognate fields.

Books and pamphlets remain largely secondary sources of information in the conservation and preservation field: our primary tools are professional journals, research reports, conference reports, and, increasingly, online publications that can respond rapidly to changes and advances in the field. Particularly useful features of the latter are that they are widely accessible, often at no cost, and can include information that is updated regularly. A hard-copy publication will remain with us for some time and may be used as a reference indefinitely. This booklet appears to be a reworking of the Northeast Document Conservation Center online Technical Leaflets 4.1, 4.2, and 4.4 (www.nedcc.org/plam3/tleaf41(2,4).htm) for fine art purposes. Unfortunately, in the process the author has eliminated one of the leaflets' most useful features—the contact addresses, suppliers, and brand names. Although library professionals may not initially have the time or interest to consult the primary sources, they should be afforded the opportunity to do so through the endnotes and further readings.

This booklet does not present hitherto unpublished findings or compile information previously scattered. Earlier compilations, specifically addressing works of art on paper, have been published by Anne Clapp (Caring for Works of Art on Paper, 4th ed., 1987) Margaret Holben Ellis (The Care of Prints and Drawings, 1987, reprint 1995), and others. However, some of their information is now dated, and Ogden does bring some more recent information to the attention of her nontechnical readers—on, for example, molecular traps. However, the most valuable and primary contribution made by The Storage of Works of Art on Paper is that its appearance acknowledges the presence in library collections of works of art on paper that need care, that do not conform to standard library procedures, such as cataloging and shelving formats, and that, being therefore a difficult and idiosyncratic presence, are often ignored.

  • Thea Burns
  • Helen H. Glaser Conservator
  • Weissman Preservation Center
  • Harvard University

JACKIE HEUMAN, ED., MATERIAL MATTERS: THE CONSERVATION OF MODERN SCULPTURE. London: Tate Gallery Publishing, Ltd., 1999. 128 pages, softcover, £12.99. Available from Tate Online, www.tate.org.uk/home/default.htm. ISBN 1-85437-2882.

Jackie Heuman has produced an elegant and tantalizing volume of collected essays written by sculpture conservators at Tate. Covering a broad range of materials and time periods, the essays vividly describe the daily challenges facing conservators of contemporary sculpture. Appealing to curator and collector with the breadth of subjects discussed and plentiful color photographs, the book is a pleasure to read or peruse. For the conservator, the collected essays serve as a springboard to the realm of ultimate challenge.

This is not a “how-to” book but rather an “eye opener” for any museum professional, art lover, or artist regarding the actual dilemmas encountered in today's art world and how a world-class conservation department uses a combination of science, skill, and ingenuity to resolve them. A number of the detailed treatments have been published previously or presented at conferences, and it is quite beneficial to have them available in one affordable volume. A recurrent theme throughout most of the essays is a point that cannot be overemphasized—the critical need for collaboration between conservators and living artists or their estates. Not only for ethical but also for legal reasons and factors, the conservator should establish that the proposed treatment is in accordance with the artist's wishes or intent.

The volume consists of an introduction, 11 chapters of different treatments, an essay on examination and analytical methods, endnotes, a glossary, and an index. Heuman aptly introduces the book stating her purpose “to describe and explain some common conservation practices in accessible language” (p. 107). Based on the various case studies, Heuman divides the book into three time periods: the 19th, the early 20th, and the latter half of the 20th century. This division provides a useful progression into the esoteric and uncommon materials facing today's conservators. Not surprisingly, the individual authors make considerable use of scientific analysis to aid in understanding the composition and deterioration processes of the various works of art. In fact, the relevant conservation scientists are specifically acknowledged at the end of each essay rather than in an endnote.

The first few essays discuss bronzes of the late 19th to early 20th century and feature both research and treatment projects. In chapter 1, Melanie Rolf describes the casting techniques of the Hébrard foundry in Paris and the methods it used to replicate in bronze the subtleties and nuances of Edgar Degas's 1881 wax sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (cast ca. 1922). The Tate's cast is a fine example of one of the 28 posthumous serial bronzes. Rolf's examination sheds light on early-20th-century foundry and patination practices through x-radiography and analysis of the surface coatings on the bronze. Given the impeccable provenance of Tate's bronze from Nelly Hébrard, daughter of the founder, and her husband, Puvis de Chavannes, son of the artist, one wonders if Puvis's hand could have been involved in the oil paint and colored waxes Rolf discovered on the bronze. Discussion of the surface enhancement on Tate's piece would be strengthened had Rolf compared the sculpture to other bronze versions of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

On the other side of the spectrum, Jackie Heuman's account of Frederic Lord Leighton's sculpture The Sluggard (1885) portrays the complexities and striking differences attainable when conserving bronzes. Previously subjected to a harsh exterior environment as well as a disfiguring coating, The Sluggard was no longer exhibitable. Heuman incorporates scientific analysis both in identifying the surface coating and in formulating a chemical solution to effectively remove the coating. The before-and-after treatment photographs are remarkable.

Chapter 3 is the last one describing a late-19th-century work of art, The Singer (1889) by Edward Onslow Ford. Pip Laurenson provides a good art-historical background for this particular Victorian taste in art. In fact, the chapter is as much about the tastes of past restorers and the consequences of improper treatment as it is about the present conservation. Several good period photographs of the artist and his studio are included. Figure 37 showing a portion of the sculpture half-treated is striking and should serve as a good warning to curators and owners about the mysteries of what may lie below the surface. More details about the actual treatment would have benefited this chapter.

In contrast to chapter 1, in chapter 4 Melanie Rolf portrays an artist, Constantin Brancusi, who was very much involved in the production of his bronze Fish (1926). From the choice of casting technology, in this case sand-casting, to surface finishing and fabrication of bases for the sculptures, Brancusi was totally involved in every step of the process, often doing the work himself. Brancusi is quoted as stating,“Since the moment the metal came out of the foundry all the work was carried out by my own hands and the hand polishing was also carried out by me” (p. 46). This chapter emphasizes the value and necessity of understanding as much as possible about an artist before embarking on a treatment plan.

The presentation of the treatment of John Skeaping's The Horse (1933) is very satisfying. Sandra Deighton combined traditional woodworking and conservation measures with more modern materials while also collaborating with paper conservators and scientists to achieve the final result. (Contemporary artist Martin Puryear, who also has a woodworking background, commented to me that he enjoyed reading about this treatment.) Photographs taken of the interior of The Horse while it was undergoing treatment help make the chapter even more engaging. I hope that the photocopy transcript of the artist's note now preserved inside the belly of The Horse also includes a copy in the artist's own handwriting.

Henry Moore “was passionate about his materials and the concept of direct carving” (p. 65), writes Tessa Jackson in her description of the treatment of Recumbent Figure (1938) in chapter 6. Jackson has thoroughly researched the history of the piece, its carving from the local Hornton stone, previous damage and restoration, and Moore's subsequent comments on the work. The result is a highly successful treatment that returned the stone figure to its original condition while employing materials and techniques that will not harm the stone and are easily reversible.

In chapter 7, with Chair (1969) by Allen Jones, the book moves into the latter half of the 20th century. Chair provides a discussion of a wide variety of materials and the complications encountered due to the exhibition of the piece. Conservator Lyndsey Morgan had to face problems of both natural aging and accelerated deterioration from public interaction and vandalism. Once again, the reader is treated to outstanding photography of all the steps in a conservation program, from documenting the condition to final treatment and return to exhibition. Morgan is to be commended for her extensive gathering of the artist's input in order to determine the most appropriate conservation treatment.

Treatment of Antony Gormley's Natural Selection (1981), written by Sandra Deighton and Jackie Heuman, is another good example of collaboration between artist and conservator to achieve a satisfactory result. The conservators have included much important detail about the materials of the artwork and how they degrade. In Natural Selection we are presented with yet another complication that the conservator of contemporary art faces—that is, personal safety. Not only do Gormley's lead objects pose their own health hazards; the conservators also had to overcome the health risks associated with decomposed organic materials.

Jackie Heuman does a very good job in chapter 9 of explaining a rather complicated, and difficult to understand, late-20th-century installation work by Matthew Barney, OTTOshaft (1992). The mixed-media sculpture incorporates a large bed of tapioca that began to crack and curl severely during a touring exhibition in Europe. Conservator and curator were able to discuss the problems with Barney; his desire to remake the sculpture only five years after its completion demonstrated his acute interest in materials and the preservation of his work. Heuman then carefully documents the complex procedure used to prepare the new tapioca bed so that it looked identical to the original. Kudos to Heuman and Tate for completing this treatment. One only hopes that treatment of every contemporary work of art will not have to be this labor-intensive.

“Managing Change: The Conservation of Plastic Sculpture, Works by Naum Gabo and Tony Cragg,” is an excellent description of the problems facing conservators of modern works. The contrast in approach to materials and preservation between Cragg and Gabo is an important one for the reader to witness. Derek Pullen carefully describes the difficulties and ethical dilemmas of making the decision to reconstruct an object even when one has the artist's approval. He states,“Although we restore and treat such sculptures when their condition demands it, our primary aim is to manage their care to avoid damage and slow the rate of deterioration” (p. 106). He gives the example of Tate's experience with one Gabo piece made from cellulose nitrate that has increased our understanding of the importance of appropriate storage and exhibition environments to the long-term preservation of sculpture made from modern materials. Other museums worldwide have benefited from this experience and will know to be on the lookout for similar problems. Pullen's closing paragraph about the commitment to preserving all types of art and finding solutions to the complex problems of their display and collection should be the mantra (or certainly required reading) for all professionals dealing with late-20th-and 21st-century works of art.

In the final chapter, “‘The Mortal Image’: The Conservation of Video Installations, Works by Bill Viola and Gary Hill,” Pip Laurenson presents an overview of the implications of collecting and conserving video art. Earlier publications by Lauren-son on the same subject have been more in-depth and actually more frightening regarding the problems—sometimes insurmountable—related to hardware preservation. The chapter also provides valuable information on discussions with video artists, though it is not always possible to act on their desires for their pieces.

The final section entitled “Methods of Examination and Analysis for Sculpture” is a useful inclusion, but since it is not listed as a numbered chapter, the reader does not necessarily know it is in the volume. Joyce Townsend has written the section in the first person, and, in a rather novel approach to describing analytical techniques, she writes in prose rather than simply providing an alphabetical glossary.

Material Matters joins the ranks of two earlier pioneering conference publications that attempt to catalog the research and treatment required for modern, unconventional art materials: From Marble to Chocolate: The Conservation of Modern Sculpture, a 1995 Tate Conference of that name published by Archetype Publications, London, also edited by Jackie Heuman, and, more recently, Modern Art: Who Cares? a 1996 Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage International Symposium edited by Ysbrand Hummelen and Dionne Sillé. I highly recommend Material Matters on many levels. It should become both a classic and an invaluable reference for conservators, curators, and collectors of sculpture produced from the late 19th century to the present day.

  • Shelley Sturman
  • National Gallery of Art
  • Washington, D.C.

ANNE BATTRAM, PATRICIA EWER, BETH MCLAUGHLIN, SUSAN READ, AND KATE REHKOPF, EDS., CONSERVATION COMBINATIONS: PREPRINTS OF A CONFERENCE. NORTH AMERICAN TEXTILE CONSERVATION CONFERENCE 2000. Asheville, N.C.: Biltmore House Textile Conservation Staff, 2000. 199 pages, softcover, $42.00. Available from Conservation Services, Biltmore Company, 1 N. Pack Square, Asheville, N.C. 28801.

The North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC) began in 1997 with “Fabric of an Exhibition: An Interdisciplinary Approach” and will continue in 2002 with “Strengthening the Bond: Science and Textiles.” In the preprints of the second NATCC, Conservation Combinations, in 2000, the organizers have adhered to the theme of collaborations, selecting reports of work done by professionals across disciplines and across continents and cultures.

The range of material discussed leaves no doubt that collaboration is necessary, as the authors address textiles spanning six millennia and three continents, with uses ranging from grave goods to the new furnishings of a municipal building. Inquiries and treatments are carried out on behalf of museums, collectors, and government agencies. There is even a trip down the Yellow Brick Road.

It is Calinescu and Varnell, in “The Resurrection of an American Film Star: The Beloved Cowardly Lion,” who ask, “Why do some things seem to uniquely embody what we value as a culture? Does this special status make their preservation imperative …? What is the process of becoming a cultural icon …?” While the authors refuse to attempt an answer, their questions are explicit or implicit in all the efforts described here and illustrate some of the broad issues involved in preserving specific textiles. The intensive treatment of the Cowardly Lion's costume for a private collector and the research protocol developed by a multidisciplinary team to identify, preserve, and present the stains on Mary Todd Lincoln's cloak (Buenger's “Wet with Blood: The Investigation of Mary Todd Lincoln's Cloak”) both speak to the technical and ethical influences that shape the treatment of an item of popular or political culture. The architect's vision of the prominence and permanence required in a display of political banners modulated the collaboration described in Foskett's “Are Yeez 'Appy: The Framing and Installation of Banners for the Museum of Scotland,” an article culminating in 10 sensible lessons for exhibition collaborations. Practical municipal schedules, budgets, and contracts resulted in decisions to reproduce, reconstruct, and create furnishings described in “Dudok's Town Hall in Hilversum: The Reconstruction of the Interior Textiles” by Barnett; while the corporate requirements of Cirque du Soleil shaped “Memoire Corporative: Strategies in Creating a Theatrical Costume Collection While Performing Art,” by François et al. An equally public endeavor is described by Hanson, who outlines the logistics and constraints of displaying a Neapolitan crèche at the White House in “Melding Eighteenth-Century Traditions with Twentieth-Century Technologies or Crèche Crisis Culminates in Christmas Collaboration.” In “Collaborating Overseas: The Textile Conservation Project at Villa La Pietra,” Mathisen and Da Zara address geographical and cultural challenges, although the essay seems to represent only the North American perspective.

Curatorial research and requirements shaped the collaboration, and a curatorial inquiry prompted the work undertaken by Gardiner et al., in “That Fabric Seems Extremely Bright: Non-destructive Characterization of Nineteenth-Century Mineral Dyes via XRF Analysis.”

Archaeological material is the subject of three thought-provoking inquiries. The first is Casas and Rojas's “Preventive Conservation: Technically Recording and Making a Reproduction of a Late Chinchorro Infant-Mummy,” in which the authors replicate a mummy and its wrappings to substitute for an original that was damaged during a traveling exhibition. The oldest textiles discussed in these preprints are an exceptionally large (7 m x 2 m) shroud and three smaller pieces, whose analysis and conservation are outlined in Negnevitsky and Schick's “Conservation and Study of Four 6,000-Year-Old Textiles from the Judean Desert.” Odegaard et al. present “Threads and Treads: Woven Sandals from the Southwest,” a summary of a grant-funded collections care project that permitted an exhibition based, according to the authors, “on sessions with focus groups representing elementary school children, high school students, local American Indian communities, winter tourists, and other adult groups.”

Exchanges between textile and painting conservators are the focus of two submissions. The first, from Eisenberg and Irgang and titled “‘Shade of Faith’: The Conservation of a Painted Sukkah Interior,” describes the division of labor established to treat and install two large painted curtains. “Local Stain Removal from Oceanie, la Mer by Henri Matisse: The Development of a Reducing Bleach Technique Using a Suction Disk, Ultrasonic Mister, and Airbrush” by Vuori et al. reminds us of the varied approaches and tools to be found in different conservation specialties and describes a synthesis of techniques to treat a large silk screen on unprimed linen.

As preprints to a 2000 conference, some of the articles describe work that began over a decade ago, rendering the volume more satisfactory as a record of current practice than of innovation. That textile conservators have a venue in which to create such a record is to the credit of conference organizers, who have made a substantial contribution to the written record of our practice. As a sampling of textile conservation practice, the book will be of interest to museum colleagues, but as a record of new initiatives to seek creative collaborations, there will be few surprises. Textile conservators have worked with wigmakers and riggers, interior designers and foren-sic scientists, as well as their curatorial and design cohorts. The perspective is primarily that of the textile conservator, however, and the tentative nature of our efforts to collaborate is clear from a survey of the authors. Four of the 14 articles are written by a single textile conservator, and 5 more are written with colleagues from conservation and conservation science. Of the authors who ventured further afield, four wrote with curators and the last with an artist. The NATCC provides a forum dedicated to exchange among disciplines, and this volume shows the effort to build upon the status quo.

  • Jane K. Hutchins
  • 6555 Tideview Rd.
  • Sooke, BC V0S IN0
  • Canada

HELEN LOVEDAY, ISLAMIC PAPER: A STUDY OF THE ANCIENT CRAFT. London: Archetype Books, 2001. 90 pages, softcover, $24.50. Available from Archetype Publications, 6 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 5HJ; +44 207 380 0800; fax: +44 207 380 0500; info@archetype.co.uk. ISBN 1-873132-03-4.

The book is divided into two parts: a history of Islamic papermaking and an analysis of Islamic paper. In the introduction, Loveday writes that the codicological study of Islamic manuscripts is far behind the codicological study of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew manuscripts. Contemporary accounts of the manufacture of Arabic and Persian texts are few and open to misinterpretation. A study of the paper itself will increase our knowledge of the evolution of hand papermaking and related areas such as bookbinding.

Helen Loveday wrote this book in memory of Don Baker, paper conservator and co-translator of Das Arabische Papier (1991) by J. von Karabacek. At the time of his death in 1994, Baker was working on a system of analysis for classifying and comparing Islamic paper. Loveday was asked to catalog his archive of articles and notes on Islamic paper and has been inspired to continue his research and expand his database.

The first chapter is about the writing materials used before paper, principally papyrus and parchment, and their manufacture and uses. By the 9th century A.D., Islam was spreading rapidly. Literacy, scholarly output, and the civil service in the Islamic world were growing. The demand for papyrus and parchment began to outstrip the supply.

Chapter 2 discusses the origins of papermaking and traces its journey westward. The Chinese kept the process a secret for centuries, until, tradition says, one or more Chinese papermakers were brought to Samarkand as prisoners of war in A.D. 704. Papermaking was established in Persia and Syria by the middle of the 8th century. In 200 years paper was the primary writing material in the Middle East. Large quantities of it were exported to the West until the middle of the 14th century, when mechanization allowed European mills to make good-quality paper at lower cost and reverse the flow. Dated 8th-and 9th-century manuscripts are scarce because the libraries that housed them were destroyed by fire and war. Loveday describes several of the manuscripts that still exist.

Chapter 3 is about “The Nature of Paper and Its Production.”There is written documentation that the papermaking materials of the Middle East were linen and hemp, mostly the processed fibers of textiles, rope, and cordage. Microscopic observation and some written references suggest that some raw bast fibers were also used, but it is difficult to determine the proportion. Most of this chapter is concerned with papermaking materials and techniques in the Middle East, India, and China: maceration of the pulp, mold materials and construction, methods of drying the formed sheets, and sizing and burnishing. Halftone photographs show an Indian papermaker at work and illustrate the visible effects of drying, sizing, and burnishing on paper.

In chapter 4, the “Qualitative Characteristics of Islamic Paper” are listed as quality, grade, color, sheet size, and watermarks. The quality of Middle Eastern paper is good because of its fiber content and processing and because the environment in Persia and the Middle East was favorable before industrialization brought pollution. There is some written documentation about grading, sizing, and coloring paper, although it can be vague and confusing. Water-marks in the Western sense did not exist, but chain lines grouped in distinct patterns appear in Syro-Egyptian papers and, rarely, in Persian papers.

The second part of the book is about analyzing paper. At the time she wrote her book, Loveday had examined and recorded the characteristics of 1,237 dated manuscripts produced in Egypt, Syria, and Persia from the 12th century to the beginning of the 19th century. In chapter 5 she gives a “Protocol for Paper Classification” using nine criteria: quality (including crispness), thickness (measured in millimeters), surface characteristics (including color, sizing, and burnishing), quality of pulp (including distribution of fibers, inclusions, and translucency), mold construction, chain-line characteristics (including grouping and separation, direction, thickness, clarity, and character), laid-line characteristics (including the number of laid lines per centimeter, direction, thickness, clarity, character, and type), rib shadows, and comments.

In the next chapter Loveday summarizes her data, using a version of the criteria in the previous chapter. The data are divided into quality and thickness, color, surface characteristics, quality of pulp, translucency, and mold construction. A comparison of Persian and Syro-Egyptian paper using these six categories shows that Persian papermaking had two datable phases—from A.D. 700 to 1400 and from 1400 to the early 1800s—with papermaking techniques changing a great deal in the latter period. In Syria and Egypt, papermaking developed gradually with no dramatic changes. Nine halftone photographs of papers illustrate differences in fiber distribution and mold construction.

The “Table of Results” is a list of the characteristics in the preceding two chapters. Loveday concludes that it is impossible to describe all Islamic papers precisely and consistently, but she believes that a study of the characteristics of dated samples can be used as corroborative evidence in the analysis of undated material. A systematic analysis of paper shows trends in papermaking over seven centuries and can give us a broader understanding of the history and craft of Islamic books.

The first part of this book will be useful for anyone interested in the history of Islamic paper-making. Loveday's summary of the documentary sources is compact, informative, and readable. It is not meant to be exhaustive, and for those who want more details, there is a bibliography of 41 historical and technical references. The photographs in the book are good, making one wish for more of them.

Paper conservators and paper historians will be especially interested in the second part, on analyzing paper. The criteria are explained in the “Protocol for Paper Classification” and the “Summary of Findings.” The “Table of Results” is a comparison of Persian and Syro-Egyptian papers over the centuries using Loveday's analyses. An analysis of paper is partly subjective and depends on the experience of the examiner. Loveday has used her knowledge and experience to make her analysis as consistent and objective as possible. Her criteria could be applied to other collections of Islamic paper, especially to dated samples in the collection, but also to show similarities and anomalies in undated material. In that case, it would useful to see the design of her database.

  • Martha Smith
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Washington, D.C. 20560

RAKESH KUMAR AND ANURADHA V. KUMAR, BIODETERIORATION OF STONE IN TROPICAL ENVIRONMENTS: AN OVERVIEW. Research in Conservation Series. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1999. 85 pages, softcover, $25.00. Available from Getty Trust Publications, 1200

Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049; (310) 440-6795; booknews@getty.edu. ISBN: 0-89236-550-1.

This overview limits itself to examining the literature on the impact of micro-organisms and plants on stone, without considering human effects. The title of the volume suggests an overview of biodeterioration of stone in tropical environments; however, only 20 percent of the references relate directly to the tropics. As a result, most of this review is really devoted to biodeterioration of stone in temperate regions. The volume is divided into five chapters, covering general aspects of biodeterioration in tropical regions (9 pages); biodeteriorgens: characteristics and biodeterioration mechanisms (18 pages); preventive and remedial methods (7 pages); selection of chemical treatments (12 pages); and current research status and areas for future investigation (6 pages). A short glossary, a 9-page index, and a 20-page, 270-entry bibliography are also included.

This is a frustrating booklet to review. Often the authors provide good information with reasonable statements, as in the preventive conservation chapter. Then they put in hasty, incorrect generalizations, as in the biodeteriorgens chapter. They miss many important references and concepts in the biodeterioration field. They attempt to synthesize the information available, but they should have included a biologist as a co-author to provide better insight into the literature and its interpretation, or at least had the draft version critiqued by a biologist to avoid the numerous mistakes included.

The chapter on preventive and remedial methods is generally good. There are, however, occasional lapses in understanding. For example (p. 30), the authors do not understand the rationale for accelerated, laboratory testing, as opposed to field testing. They feel that extrapolation from accelerated tests must not be made until full correlation with field trials is performed. But the whole point of accelerated testing is to provide a rapid screening test of the relative susceptibility to microbial deterioration of the various products in question. Those products that fail first in this type of laboratory test will also fail first in the field.

The authors provide a good, comprehensive table (4.1, pp. 41–45) on biocides. Details given on each chemical include trade name, LD50, organisms targeted, surface applied to, method of application, effectiveness of treatment, and references. This table is a good idea, limited only by the quality of the information available in the references. In most instances, papers citing treatments do not specify the organisms or the substrate. Comments on the effectiveness of the treatment, especially over the long term, such as “kills biological growth in five months” or “residual effects that prevent growth for 3–5 years,” provide useful guidelines. As good as this section is, though, it would have been even better if more space had been devoted to further elaboration.

Mixed in with the helpful parts, unfortunately, are many incompletely developed sections containing much misinformation.

While the authors correctly state the basic definition of biodeterioration in the introduction (any undesirable change in the properties of a material caused by the vital activities of living organisms), they fail to include the term “biodegradation” and its definition (any desirable change in the properties of a material caused by the vital activities of living organisms, e.g., biodegradation of PCBs). The two terms, and processes, are closely linked.

The section on general aspects of biodeterioration in tropical regions is good as far as it goes, but it misses important concepts and references, especially in the paragraphs dealing with identification of microbes and their activities. Reference to DNA molecular tools to isolate, amplify, sequence, and identify micro-organisms is missed (e.g., S. Rölleke et al. 1996. Identification of bacteria in a biodegraded wall painting by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of PCR-amplified gene fragments coding for 16S rRNA. Applied Environmental Microbiology 62:2059–65), as is ATP-luminescence assessment for fungal activity states (F.E. Nieto-Fernandez et al. 1997. Assessing biodeterioration in wood using ATP photometry. Part 1, Nucleotide extraction and wood interference. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 39[1]:9–13; F.E. Nieto-Fernandez et al. 1997. Assessing biodeterioration in wood using ATP photometry. Part 2, Calculating a conversion factor for Phanerochete chrysosporium using ATP and adenylate energy charge. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 39[2–3]:159–64; F.E. Nieto-Fernandez et al. 1998. Assessing biodeterioration in wood using ATP photometry. Part 3, Estimation of the fungal biomass of Phanerochete chrysosporium in decayed wood using ATP and energy charge measurements. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 41[1]:35–39).

The authors missed many significant and newer references, especially those from two Dahlem workshops outlining background and research directions in the field of biodeterioration of stone. They are: Krumbein, W. E., et al., eds. 1994. Durability and change: The science, responsibility, and cost of sustaining cultural heritage. New York: John Wiley. 307; Baer, N. S., and R. Snethlage, eds. 1997. Saving our architectural heritage: The conservation of historic stone structures. New York: John Wiley. 448; Koestler, R. J., et al. 1997. Biodeterioration: Risk factors and their management. In Saving our architectural heritage: The conservation of historic stone structures, ed. N. S. Baer and R. Snethlage. Dahlem Workshop Report ES20. Chichester. New York: John Wiley. 25–36;Teutonico, J. M., et al. 1997. Group report: How can we ensure the responsible and effective use of treatments (cleaning, consolidation, protection)? In Saving our architectural heritage: The conservation of historic stone structures, ed. N. S. Baer and R. Snethlage. Dahlem Workshop Report ES20. Chichester. New York: John Wiley. 293–313.

Also missing are many citations from the Elsevier Science journal International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, which devotes about a third of its pages to peer-reviewed articles on biodeterioration of cultural property.

In addition to missing references, the authors have misread or miscited some of their information. For example, they state that “alteration of stone monuments due to living organisms is usually indicative of an advanced state of deterioration predetermined by physical and chemical parameters” (p. vii). This is incorrect. Biodeterioration may precede or be concurrent with initial mechanical and physical deterioration factors (as stated in Becker et al. [1994] in the authors'reference list). Another example of incorrect understanding of the literature is in attributing the color of cyanobacteria to the gelatinous sheaths surrounding the cells (p. 14). The color is primarily the result of the carotenoids and phycobilins within the cells. Sometimes this color is modified by the gelatinous sheaths surrounding the cells. Another point about cyanobacteria is that they may live within a stone, not just on the surface as stated (p. 15).

In the section on fungi, table 2.2 (Fungi Found on Stone Monuments in Tropical Regions) seems like a filler section, as many fungi reported in the included references are not listed, and many more fungi from other references could have been added to make the list more representative of organisms found.

In the section on lichens, the authors should have made it clear that a lichen is an association of a fungus and a bacterium, not a mixture of bacterial species, as is implied. In about 60 percent of lichens, the phycobiont is a Chlorococcales sp.

Growth of the thallus, essentially fungal hyphae, does not only follow pre-existing cracks as stated (p. 20), but rather they may create their own pathways (Koestler et al. 1985, in the authors' reference list).

The authors should also have made some reference to the large number of studies by lichenologists in which they determine and map the environmental conditions underneath various lichens by identifying the species of lichen on the surface. For instance, some species like a high-salt environment, some like high moisture, some like less light than others, etc. (e.g., Romao, P. M. S., and Rattazzi A. 1996. Biodeterioration on megalithic monuments: Study of lichens' colonization on Tapadao and Zambujeiro Dolmens [Southern Portugal]. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 37[1]:23–35). Mapping the lichen species on the surface aids in spotting sections of a monument or stone surface that may be at particular risk.

The complexity of the interactions among biological, chemical, and physical factors (which has been called co-association) is alluded to in the introduction. A fuller development of this idea, with research suggestions, can be found in Koestler, R. J., et al. 1994. “How do environmental factors accelerate change?” In Durability and change: The science, responsibility, and cost of sustaining cultural heritage, ed. W. E. Krumbein et al. New York: John Wiley. 149–63. Much of the chapter on selection of chemical treatment seems to be based upon George W. Ware's first edition of The Pesticide Book rather than the current fourth edition (Fresno, Calif.: Thomson, 1994). Much has changed in the pesticide world since the first edition. Almost none of the products listed in table 4.1 are registered for use on stone in the United States, although admittedly the standards are different in other countries, and many of these products are still in use elsewhere. It would have been useful to incorporate a listing of the availability of the chemicals in different regions.

A point that was not mentioned about the use of biocides is that the effectiveness of a biocide varies depending upon the substrate to which it is applied. For example, quaternary ammoniums will last longer when applied to stones containing clay as opposed to those without. This result is believed to be due to absorption of the biocide by the clay, so that it is retained longer in the stone (Young, M. E., et al. 1995. Assessment in a field setting of various biocides on sandstone. In Preprints of methods of evaluating products for the conservation of porous building materials in monuments. Rome: ICCROM. 93–99).

Biocides and protective coatings may interact with each other, causing unintended results. As well, these results may be different depending upon the order in which the treatments were applied (Nugari, M-P., et al. 2000. Effects of combined application of biocides and protectives on marble. In 9th International Congress on Deterioration and Conservation of Stone,Venice, Italy. Amsterdam: Elsevier 2:225–33).

The authors perpetuate a basic misconception about biology when they state that “Some organisms, especially bacterial, can develop [my emphasis] resistance to a particular biocide over time.” This is not exactly what happens. In any species of bacteria, there are many genetic variations present in a given population. Some variations are susceptible to a particular biocide and will not grow, while some are partially or completely unaffected and will continue to grow. In other words, it is not that a particular bacterium is developing resistance, but rather that the unaffected variations continue to grow.

The authors also have an incomplete understanding of biofilms and biocide interactions. A biofilm is not only present in aquatic environments (as stated by the authors), but may be present on many surfaces. A biofilm may contain many different microbes, including actinomycetes, algae, bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, and yeast, along with many different biopolymers. The complex nature of a biofilm almost ensures that any biocide applied to two different biofilms will have different effects. A biocide applied to a biofilm may have no effect, a small effect, the desired effect, or even a deleterious effect, by encouraging the growth of other organisms.

The section discussing current research status and areas for further investigation is not well thought out, and too much is missing. The simple listing of suggestions given should have been referenced as to source and should have been developed further.

An important concept that has not been mentioned in this overview is the possible protective role of biological growths on stone surfaces (e.g., Urzi, C., and Krumbein, W. E. 1994. Microbiological impacts on the cultural heritage. In Durability and change: The science, responsibility, and cost of sustaining cultural heritage, ed. W. E. Krumbein et al. New York: John Wiley. 107–35. For a recent summary of this issue see: Dornieden, T., et al. 2000. Patina. Physical and chemical interactions of sub-aerial biofilms with objects of art. In Of microbes and art: The role of microbial communities in the degradation and protection of cultural heritage, ed. O. Ciferri et al. New York: Plenum Publishing. 105–19).

One final very basic concept that should have been stressed is the important difference between tropical and nontropical regions, in that the environmental stress to a biocide is much greater in the tropics due to a longer (i.e., continuous) growing season and greater amounts of rain.

Overall, I cannot recommend Biodeterioration of Stone in Tropical Environments: An Overview in its current version, in or out of the tropics. There is just too much misleading, misinterpreted, missing, or wrong information to recommend it. No clear rationale is given as to why microbial environments in the tropics should be considered as special and not just as variants of a temperate region. Indeed, since some 80% of the references deal with temperate microbial deterioration, it seems that the authors do not make a clear distinction. All of these errors could be corrected by a revision. If this were done, then I feel that the overview could indeed live up to its name.

  • Robert J. Koestler, Ph.D.
  • Research Scientist
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation
  • 1000 Fifth Ave.
  • New York, N.Y. 10028

JEANETTE M. CARDAMONE AND MARY T. BAKER, EDS., HISTORIC TEXTILES, PAPERS, AND POLYMERS IN MUSEUMS. ACS Symposium Series 779. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 2001. 227 pages, hardcover $110.00. Available from Oxford University Press, www.oupusa.org/acs/. ISBN 0-8412-3652-6.

This volume contains papers presented in 1998 at two symposia hosted by the American Chemical Society,“Historic Textiles and Paper” and “Polymers in Museums.”The volume is divided into two parts, “Textiles and Papers in Museums” and “Polymers in Museums,” and includes topics ranging from the identification, characterization, or accelerated aging of fibers (cellulose, silk, and wool), cellulose acetate, and cellulose nitrate to profiling surface topography of polymers. The papers generally are rich in content and well edited. Some researchers will find the entire volume useful, if not interesting, while others may prefer to obtain the volume through interlibrary loan before purchasing it for their own library.

Jeanette M. Cardamone edited the first part, “Textiles and Papers in Museums.” Her introductory article,“Historic Textiles and Paper,”describes a range of issues, challenges, and research about these materials, and provides context for the eight articles in the part.

“The Aging, Degradation, and Conservation of Historic Materials Made from Cellulosic Fibers” describes the historical cultivation and use of cotton and flax fibers and also addresses fiber morphology, fiber properties, cellulose structural change, cellulose degradation, deacidification, aged cellulosic textiles, photolytic degradation, biodegradation, and air pollution. “Chemical and Physical Changes in Naturally and Accelerated Aged Cellulose” describes work done to replicate the natural aging of cellulose by artificial means, analysis of degradation products by gas chromatography, and testing of the physical properties that led the authors to conclude it is physically and chemically safe to store cellulosic materials in a variable but moderate environment and that chemical stability increases at cooler temperatures and lower relative humidities. “FTIR Study of Dyed and Undyed Cotton Fibers Recovered from a Marine Environment” describes using Fourier transform infrared reflectometry (FTIR) microscopy to study the crystallinity indices of dyed and undyed cotton fibers from a deep-ocean shipwreck, which showed that increased crystallinity will result in less absorbent and less flexible fibers. “Characterization of Chemical and Physical Microstructure of Historic Fibers Through Microchemical Reaction” describes the use of light microscopy and FTIR microspectroscopy to study internal structural differences in historic fibers that may influence the determination of future conservation treatments. “Degradation and Color Fading of Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Natural Dyes and Mordants” describes an evaluation of the effects of six mordants, iron and aluminum salts, and two major components of natural dyes on the photodegradation rates of cotton fabrics using weathering tests, and analysis and measurements using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy, electron spin resonance, color measurement, and tensile tests. “Degradation and Color Fading of Silk Fabrics Dyed with Natural Dyes and Mordants” describes an evaluation of the effects of dyes and mordants on the photodegradation and photofading of raw and degummed silk fabrics through artificial light exposure, color measurements, tensile testing, and determination of mordants in fabrics.

“Measuring Silk Deterioration by High-Performance Size-Exclusion Chromatography, Viscometry, and Electrophoresis” describes work that showed that three analytical techniques developed for measuring silk deterioration (high-performance size-exclusion chromatography, viscometry, and electrophoresis) provide very sensitive and complementary information about small changes in silk molecular weight resulting from deterioration. “The Aging of Wool Fibers” describes a study of chemical changes in wool under a variety of natural and artificial conditions.

The second part, “Polymers in Museums,” was edited by Mary T. Baker, whose introductory article of the same title describes the identification, deterioration, storage and display, and testing of polymer materials and provides context for the five articles that follow.

“The Physical Properties of Photographic Film Polymers Subjected to Cold Storage Environments” describes a study of the effects of temperature and relative humidity on dimensional response and stress and strain in restrained films of cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate. “Probing the Factors that Control Degradation in Museum Collections of Cellulose Acetate Artefacts” describes a parallel study of the accelerated aging of modern samples of cellulose acetate and selected artifacts from the 1940s that involves artificial aging of modern specimens and analysis of specimens using solubility tests, FTIR microspectroscopy, ion chromatography, and gel permeation chromatography. “Spectroscopic Investigation of the Degradation of Vulcanized Natural Rubber Museum Artifacts” describes an evaluation of the usefulness of three FTIR spectroscopy techniques (ATR [attenuated total reflection] microscopy, in-compartment ATR, and photoacoustic methods) using artificially and naturally aged vulcanized natural rubber samples and the use of scanning electron microscopy to study changes in the morphology and tensile properties of artificially aged samples. “Pyroxyline Paintings by Siqueiros: Visual and Analytical Examination of His Painting Techniques” describes the degradation of pyroxyline (cellulose nitrate), its use by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and the analytical examination of paint cross sections by light microscopy and samples of paint by FTIR microspectroscopy. “Laser Surface Profilometry: A Novel Technique for the Examination of Polymer Surfaces” describes a use of a near-infrared laser to produce topographical images of the changes in surface morphology on specimens that were artificially aged and specimens that were cleaned.

  • James S. Martin
  • Orion Analytical, LLC
  • P.O. Box 550
  • Williamstown, Mass. 01267


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