WAACNewsletter
Volume 11, Number 3, Sept 1989, pp.14-15

Conferences in Review

Mary Hough, column editor

Two conferences are reviewed in this column:

  1. "Symposium on Object-Specific Surveys," review by David Shute.
  2. "Chemical Background of Textile, Leather and Metal Threads," review by Nancy Sloper Howard.

Symposium on Object-Specific Surveys

Last November (1988), the Rocky Mountain Regional Conservation Center, University of Denver, hosted a Symposium on Object- Specific Surveys for the Directors/Administrators and selected Senior Conservators of all twelve members of the Association of Regional Conservation Centers. This two-and-one-half day gathering, which included both general sessions and specialty work groups, addressed issues of concern to all the Centers in conducting this kind of survey and concentrated on the informational expectations that should be anticipated as a result of object-specific survey projects. The Symposium was partially funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and RMRCC

Administrator David Shute served as the Project Coordinator. All participants felt that this effort was a first step in opening a dialogue on a professional conservation service provided by many conservators in private practice as well as those employed by institutions. An Executive Summary of the Symposium has been prepared for distribution to a broader audience, to which have been attached summaries of the informational expectations identified at the Symposium for paintings, paper, objects, and textiles conservation surveys. A copy of this material may be obtained by anyone interested in reviewing it. A check for $3.50, per copy, should be made to the order of RMRCC, to cover the actual cost of copying, postage and handling. Requests should be sent to: David Shute, RMRCC, 2420 S. University Blvd., Denver, CO 80208. Please do not make these requests by telephone.

David Shute, Rocky Mountain Regional Conservation Center,
Denver, Colorado

Chemical Background of Textile, Leather and Metal Threads

In April of this year, I attended the two week course, "Chemical Background of Textile, Leather and Metal Threads" held in Budapest, Hungary. The course was given in English to 21 textile conservators from Western Europe and the United States with the objective of reviewing basic textile conservation chemistry and introducing recent advances in the field. Ten morning lectures dealt with molecular changes resulting from the degradation of fibers, metals and leathers, some of the history of their manufacture and use, current testing strategies for damage and soiling, the chemical structure of dyes, pigments, varnishes, enzymes, surfactants, and other washing agents, and the use of solvents by several triangle diagrams. Most of the afternoon practicals were held in laboratories at the National Centre for Museums. Small groups of us were given exercises in analysis and testing of a wide range of materials and problems. For example, one afternoon we evaluated cleaning methods and formulae for metal threads and subsequently examined our samples using a scanning electron microscope. Another day we prepared resin casts containing samples of varnished paint layers and then used stains and bench microscopes to classify them. We also visited the leather conservation department of the Ethnographic Museum, and the textile conservation department of the Museum of Applied Arts where we reviewed case studies and examined works in progress.

Most of the lectures were given by Agnes Timar-Balazy, a gifted teacher and the person responsible for organizing the course. She was assisted by a staff of chemists and conservators from the aforementioned institutions in Budapest. Also present for part of the course were Judith Hofenk de Graff from the Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam, who reviewed her premises for formulating washing solutions, and Dinah Eastop, Director of The Textile Conservation Centre, Hampton Court, who presented three very interesting case studies. In the evenings we sampled Hungarian pastries, coffees, and liqueurs and on the weekend we were given an extensive and beautiful tour of the North Western (Trans- Danubian) region of Hungary. A great amount of material was presented both in print and in lectures, and I have found much of it to be useful in my current work. It is likely that the course will be given again and inquiries may be directed to me or to: Agnes Timar-Balazy; 1071. Budapest, Damjanich u. 19. HUNGARY.

Nancy Sloper Howard, The Textile Conservation Workshop,
Winters, California

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