WAACNewsletter
Volume 19, Number 2 .... May 1997

Articles You May Have Missed

Susana Zubiate
Column Editor


"Consolidating the Stone", by Corinna Wu in Science News, Vol.151, January 25, 1997, pp. 56-57.

Collaboration between C. Jeffrey Brinker of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., and George Wheeler of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is leading to new research in the field of stone consolidation. In particular, the partnership is researching the protection of limestone and marble with alkoxysilanes.

Used in conservation since the 1960's to consolidate some types of deteriorating stone, the problem currently encountered with the commercially available alkoxysilanes is that there is no actual linkage between the stone and the alkoxysilane. Since there is no true linkage to the stone, the material wears off in a couple of months, making the treatment temporary. The research team is hoping to improve the currently used alkoxysilanes by finding a molecule that will bind to calcium carbonate rock on one side and to the alkoxysilane on the other.

Ideally the bridging compound will not only bind to the stone but will also be tailored so as to prevent water from penetrating the stone while maintaining its breathability. It will also be taking into consideration that quot;recent studies have shown that alkoxysilanes perform much more poorly on weathered stone than on newly quarried stone." "Wheeler sees the collaborative project as an opportunity to increase scientific rigor in the field of stone conservation."


" Great Outdoor Jobs" by Debra Shore in Southwest Airlines Spirit, December 1996, pp. 47, 49.

Claire Dean's work as an Archaeological Conservator in Portland, Oregon is listed as one of four creative and challenging "great outdoor jobs" in Southwest's magazine. Dean is interviewed about her contract work with National Park Services where she works on projects as varied as conserving pictographs, addressing vandalism, and caring for and preserving outdoor artifacts. She comments on various facets of her job including the best part of her job; the dangers associated with it; perks; positions available in the field; and required training.


"Beyond Imagery: An Overview of Charles Burchfield's Materials and Techniques", by Patricia D.Hamm and Nancy Weekly in Watercolor, Spring 1997, Vol. 3 Issue 10, pp. 116-128.

Through innovative techniques derived over a period of decades, using relatively simple materials in unexpected ways, Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) created watercolors on a grand scale, with more complex surfaces than any other artist had ever achieved. Although his subjects have been copied by followers, Burchfield's watercolors have never been equaled. They still occupy a place entirely unique in the history of painting. After nine years of studying these works at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York, paper conservator Patricia D. Hamm and Nancy Weekly, curator, reveal exactly how they came into being.


"Bay Area Mural Controversy" by Stephanie Cash, in Art in America, April 1997, vol. 85 no. 4, p. 31.

Since the San Francisco Public Library moved into its new home last year, a debate has been brewing over the fate of 14 murals on the Old Main Library's mezzanine walls flanking the main staircase. The Beaux-Arts building's new tenant, the Asian Art Museum, wants the murals removed, but is being met with opposition from local art historians, preservationists and other museums.

Painted by Bay Area artist Gottardo Piazzoni, the atmospheric land and seascapes correspond to the geography of the area surrounding the library. Ten of the canvas panels, each measuring 12 by 7 1/2 feet, were installed (glued to the wall and trimmed on site) in 1930 and '31 and the remaining four in 1975, 30 years after the artist's death. The museum claims that it needs the wall space and that the murals' style doesn't suit its collection. Museum director Emily Sano has stated that the murals should not be part of the building's final architectural design and that no museum should be saddled with a permanent work of art that impedes curatorial activities.

Opponents of the removal are backed by a conservator's report that calls the risk's "daunting" and cites the "overwhelming importance of location in the artist's conception of the work."


"High Tech Opens Door to Ancient Texts", by Dennis Akizuki in San Jose Mercury News, December 7, 1996, pp. 1A, 24A.

University of California-Berkeley researchers are restoring 2,300-year-old papyrus documents that were discovered during an 1899 expedition but up until now have been too fragile to handle. The documents are part (about 400) of a huge collection (1,600) of papyrus documents which have been stored in UC's Bancroft Library since 1938. The Tebtunis collection of papyri was discovered as wrappings on mummified crocodiles that were used as religious offerings. They date from 300 BC to AD 300 and "offer an 'intimate view' of Egypt during that time period". The documents include fragments of works by Homer, Virgil and Euripides.

About fifty years ago some of the documents were treated by encasing them in Vinylite, " an early form of plastic". It is noted that one of the problems with the material is that it is flexible, and with any handling the documents were bending and breaking. Consequently, due to their fragility, the documents had been studied on a very limited basis for the past thirty years.

An ionizing blower that is normally used for high tech wafer fabrication is being used to neutralize static electricity on the documents and Vinylite. "The blower will deionize the document and Vinylite, making it safe to withdraw it for proper preservation in more conventional glass cases." once they are in more stable condition the documents will then be made accessible on the World Wide Web. Funding is coming from a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project includes the preservation, cataloging and putting on-line of the papyri collections from UC-Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Princeton, Michigan, and Yale.


"The Magic of Paper", by Jon R. Luoma in National Geographic, March 1997, pp. 88 - 109.

A pretty article which gives quick highlights of paper history; a very basic explanation of paper chemistry; a note on conservation; and brief information on the environmental impact associated with paper production.


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