WAACNewsletter
January 2002 Volume 24 Number 1

WAAC Annual Meeting: Presentation Summaries

The 2001 WAAC Annual Meeting was held October 12 - 13 at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The papers from the meeting are listed below along with summaries prepared by the speakers.

The Use of Varnish and Glazes in

Early Italian Paintings: Evidence and Implications

Yvonne Szafran

The extent to which early Italian paintings were originally varnished has prompted numerous discussions over the years. The existence or not of glazes has also been part of this debate. This talk will detail the discovery of old varnish layers and glazes on paintings recently cleaned at the Getty and will explore the implications of these findings.

The Pastel Gallery at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Nancy Yocco

The J Paul Getty Museum acquired its first pastel in 1983, and since then has gradually built a collection of pastels from the 18th and 19th centuries. The move to the Getty Center in 1997 presented the opportunity to showcase this growing collection. This talk will highlight pastel portraits from the 18th century when this medium was in vogue, drawing special attention to materials and techniques used by pastel painters from France, England, and Switzerland.

A Royal Menagerie: History and Technology of Meissen Porcelain Animals

Jane Bassett

For two hundred years, attempts to create hard paste porcelain in Europe failed. Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, suffered a self-described "maladie de porcelaine" (addiction to porcelain). His obsessive drive to collect set the stage for the invention of hard paste porcelain in Saxony in the early 18th century, in what was to become the Meissen porcelain factory. Not long after opening, the Meissen factory produced a series of near life-size porcelain animals. The exhibition of fourteen of these animals at the J. Paul Getty Museum has given us the opportunity to observe how the huge technical challenges posed in creating the animals were overcome.

The Getty Villa: Before, During and After Treatment

Susan Lansing Maish

The Antiquities Conservation staff of the J. Paul Getty Museum's staff is frequently asked, "When is the Getty Villa Museum going to reopen?", "What is going to be there?", and "How is going to be done?" Due to reopen in 2004, the Villa is currently undergoing many changes and improvements to the facilities there. The Antiquities Conservation Dept. has been directly involved in the planning stages. This presentation will focus on the department's input into the issues of case design, X-ray facility design, gallery and lab design, as well as a look at a few of the objects currently being treated for eventual display in the Villa.

The Gladzor Gospels: The Manuscript and Its Conservation

Nancy Turner

Dating from the first decade of the fourteenth century, the Gladzor Gospels is a lavishly illuminated Armenian manuscript belonging to the Department of Special Collections of the Charles Young Research Library at UCLA. Disbound twenty years ago, the Gladzor Gospels was recently conserved in preparation for an exhibition featuring over 40 illuminated folios from the manuscript at the J. Paul Getty Museum. In addition to a brief history of the manuscript, the conservation treatment will be described. Conservation treatment included stabilization of flaking pigment, glue removal, repair of tears and losses, and selective flattening. The innovative conservation mounting and framing, performed by Lynne Kaneshiro of the Department of Paper Conservation, will be presented as well. Considerations for rebinding after the close of the exhibition will be raised.

Ghanaian Movie Posters: An Exploration of Treatment and Mounting Options

Jo Hill

The recent exhibition of Ghanaian movie posters at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History posed special challenges with regard to the minimal stabilization treatment and wall-mounting of 75 ephemeral, heavily weathered paintings on cotton cloth (pieced flour sacks). Intended to advertise adventure and monster films scheduled at informal, temporary movie houses, the pieces were originally displayed by means of nails, tacks, or staples on exterior building walls or sidewalk-style sandwich boards.

Sufficient stabilization for the purposes of temporary exhibition display was to be achieved in a very short period of time, but the paintings' owners required that much of the evidence of past local use be largely preserved. Effects of past use included overall soiling from outdoor display; tears and nail holes at the top edges; and fallen hems, gaping holes, and pendant shreds of torn cloth on the lower edges. On the other hand, minimal interventions were absolutely necessary to prepare the physically damaged pieces for s handling and display.

Several facets of this treatment and mounting exploration may be of interest to the conservation community. Not only does the project show one conservator's systematic approach to studying and documenting special materials for treatment and mounting, but it also shows how modern "paintings conservation" treatment materials were used to stabilize "ethnographic" paintings (by an "objects" conservator!).

Also, in the setting of a cultural history museum exhibition, the project shows an example of how one conservator sought to reconcile the ethics involved in identifying appropriate and reversible conservation approaches, all the while attempting to preserve the evidence of past use of the movie posters. After the slide presentation, the project binder will be available for the conference participants' perusal. It shows the thought-process, documentation, and maintenance of test samples for the project.

Conserving Jewish Wedding Traditions

Sharon K. Shore

Beginning in 2000, wedding costumes from Western and Non-Western cultural traditions and related ceremonial textiles were treated for inclusion in an exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center which opened in August of 2001. Twenty-six mannequins were prepared for the "dressing" of the costumes that were accessorized variously by bouquets, gloves, shoes, and veils and cover a period from 1897 to 1973. An overview of the project in retrospect reveals how significantly "community" affected not only the exhibition collection and narrative but the conservator's work as well. The exhibition is entitled "Romance and Ritual, Celebration the Jewish Wedding" and is on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through December of 2001.

Exterior Murals in Los Angeles—Assessment and Conservation

Leslie Rainer, Chris Stavroudis, Donna Williams, Aneta Zebala

In 1999, the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department awarded a contract for research, survey, condition assessment, and conservation of City sponsored murals (murals owned by the City of Los Angeles). A multi-disciplinary group of three paintings and mural conservators, a sculpture conservator and a local art historian was selected to implement the contract.

The project involves four basic components: 1) Providing a comprehensive inventory of all outdoor City sponsored murals; 2) Assessing the condition of 200 City sponsored murals; 3) Conserving ten City sponsored murals; 4) Educational outreach and dissemination of project results

The talk will present a comprehensive overview of the project with examples of murals that were surveyed and treated. Issues including cleaning, treatment of paint degradation, reattachment of lifting paint, removal of graffiti, graffiti prevention and abatement strategies, as well as site maintenance will be discussed.

A Necessary Evil: Anti-Graffitti Coatings for Murals

Debra May

In the course of treating murals in the Los Angeles Mural Assessment and Conservation Project, one important component was the use of anti-graffiti coatings. The application of anti-graffiti coating was recognized by the team as a necessary evil.

Although these coatings have been used for many years to protect murals by providing a physical barrier to repel graffiti media and facilitate removal of tags, there are many problems associated with their use. These can include turbid, discolored coatings that are aesthetically unaccep and often irreversible.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a series of tests undertaken in conjunction with the LAMACP to evaluate a two layer, anti-graffiti coating system using Golden MSA Varnish and GraffitiMelt, a proprietary sacrificial barrier coating. These tests, which are currently in progress, are to determine the minimum thickness of an anti-graffiti coating required to provide an accep visual result while still providing sufficient protection from damage due to graffiti.

Healing a Community: A Collaborative Project for Columbine High School

Victoria Montana Ryan, Hays Shoop

In the aftermath of the tragic shootings that took place at Columbine High School in April 1999, spontaneous memorials to the victims appeared in the park adjacent to the school. Conservators and others wishing to contribute their support provided assistance in collecting and preserving the ephemeral memorabilia, much of which had been severely damaged by inclement weather. These initial efforts were not however, the end of involvement in the community healing process for the conservators from the Art Conservation Center at the University of Denver. A decision was made by the community to renovate and rededicate the part of the school where the tragedy occurred.

The architect selected for the project designed a new two-story atrium to occupy space originally designed as two floors. Within the new atrium space the architect had envisioned not just the light and verticality of the space, but a 3-dimensionality as well and discussed this vision with the artist involved in the project. The artist, Virginia Wright—Frierson had volunteered her time to paint a series of new murals for the atrium. As work on the new atrium neared completion, the artist contacted the paintings' conservators at the Art Conservation Center concerning the installation of the murals. After research, testing, and discussions with the artist, the conservators devised appropriate installation procedures and worked with the contractor to successfully complete the installation within an extremely short deadline.

Bringing together the conservation team with the artist, the architect, the contractor and the community representatives enabled the vision of a new, uplifting, and inspiring space to be completed. The conservation team benefited, not only from the interdisciplinary efforts to achieve this goal, but in numerous other ways as well. These benefits, materials and permanence considerations, the installation process, conservation recommendations, and the community reactions will be presented.

A Report on the Treatment in Progress of Murals by Kenneth Callahan in Everett, Washington

Peter Malarkey

In Winter 2002, Everett Station will be opened in Everett, WA. The 64,000-foot building will contain public bus, light and heavy rail services, human services agencies and a University of Washington extension facility. In addition to housing a permanent collection on contemporary artwork, the station has been designed to contain fourteen historic murals by Northwest Regional painter Kenneth Callahan (1905 - 1986). Painted in oil on cotton canvas, the murals were commissioned in 1942 for installation in a sawmill-dining hall and they expressively depict logging and mill processes. They have been stored on cylinders since their removal in 1974 when the mill was demolished. Installation of the murals in the new location is scheduled for December 2001 and February 2002.

Created in the studio and adhered to the walls, the artist's original mill installation included tacking and overlapping of adjacent components, slitting, repainting (now discolored), and unexpected removal of significant mural portions to accommodate doors and windows. More than the demands of a new public location, these conditions have defined an approach that should be both historically frank and aesthetically intact. The project demonstrates the complexity of defining and upholding the artist's original intent, and carries the potential for illuminating both the original and planned sites. Materials Testing: Williamstown Art Conservation Center,

Practical Applications: The Use of Cyclododecane on Ecuadorian

Ceramic Seals

Jessica Fletcher

Conservators at the Denver Art Museum were approached with a dilemma by the curator of Pre-Columbian Art and by the Education Department. They were looking for a way to take printed display images off of a group of ceramic Ecaudorian stamps without endangering them in any way. It is thought that these stamps were used for both body painting and textile design.

Previous treatment experience with the hydrocarbon cyclododecane suggested it as a likely material to protect the surface of the stamps while the image was taken. Cyclododecane can be applied in a molten state or in a solvent. The most useful quality for conservators is that it sublimes at room temperature. By first using mock-ups, this paper addresses the question of whether or not a direct image could be taken off a cyclododecane coated stamp. The results suggest that taking a direct image poses too many risks for the object. Instead, a method is devised to use cyclododecane as a barrier for taking a cast. Traditional methods of taking casts are discussed, and experiments conducted. In the end, a two-step casting process is used and successful images are achieved on fabric and human skin.

Stabilization of Archeological Ceramics by the Adhesive Replacement Method

Michaela Neiro, Greg Byrne

Archaeologically recovered ceramic materials often form a major portion of museum collections. Reconstructed ceramics are a frequently studied component of these collections. Cellulose nitrate adhesives have been a popular choice for the reconstruction of ceramics by archeologists since the 1930s.

Unfortunately, cellulose nitrate is an uns material that becomes brittle, darkens in appearance, and looses its adhesive strength as it ages. Adhesive failure results in collapse of objects causing damage and loss of information, and so an efficient re-treatment strategy to stabilize previously reconstructed ceramics was sought. The authors have developed a novel, cost-effective treatment to stabilize large collections of previously reconstructed ceramics. The technique replaces failing cellulose nitrate without disassembly of the object and requires less time than more traditional methods. This work should interest to cultural resource managers, archeologists, collection managers, curators, and conservators.

Egyptian Faience: A Process for Obtaining Detail and Clarity by Refiring

Carolyn Riccardelli

Egyptian faience manufacture began in the Predynastic period (ca. 4800-4300 BC) and continued for the next five millennia, not only in Egypt but also in North Africa, Central Asia, and the Aegean. The earliest examples of faience have a limited palette of turquoise-blue and green.

Throughout its long history in Egypt, faience objects became more complex and were often decorated with an expanded palette of red, black, and yellow. This polychrome decoration was often accomplished by inlaying one color of paste into another. Inlay during the New Kingdom period is often characterized by a small void, or parting line, around the added color. Inlaid faience from this period is found both with and without such a parting line. Because the distinctive parting line has been difficult to reproduce, the line appears to be deliberate. This inlay technique reveals a fundamental understanding of the materials' characteristics before, during and after firing, and knowledge of how to manipulate these characteristics.

The research presented in this paper is an attempt to identify Egyptian faience inlay techniques by characterizing the properties of a set of standard reproductions. The most aesthetically successful reproductions were produced with pre-fired components. A series of experiments was performed to quantify changes in glaze color, glaze gloss, and depth of glaze penetration upon refiring.

Data was gathered from replicated samples and cross-sections using SEM EDS, UV-vis spectrophotometry, colorimetry, and optical microscopy. Visual comparisons were made between cross-sections of replicated inlays and examples of broken ancient Egyptian faience inlays.

Discovering Shangri-la: A Private

Retreat Becomes a Public House-

Museum

Laura Gorman

In 1937, twenty-four year old Doris Duke, "the richest girl in the world," commenced construction of a private retreat, Shangri-La, in the shadow of Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii. Until her death in 1993, she continued to incorporate artworks and even architectural interiors into the collection of Islamic art that is so integral to the house, and includes some very important and hitherto "unknown" pieces.

Miss Duke's relationship to the field of preservation, from the presentation of her father's Fifth Avenue house to the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, and her creation of the Newport Restoration Foundation, to her own efforts to maintain her collections over the years will be explored. In accordance with Miss Duke's will, Shangri-La will be opened to the public for tours beginning in October, 2002, and current strategies to improve conditions in a tropical, ocean-front environment will be discussed.

Some Abstract Notions of Concrete: Celebrity Prints at Mann's Chinese

Dr. Duane Chartier

Concrete technology predates the Roman Empire but it is almost as much an art form now as it was then. We may think that we know all there is to know about concrete but that is very naive. Often the most logical and sensible approach to understanding and treating concrete turns out to be completely wrong.

Mann's Chinese Theater has been celebrating and enhancing the myth of Hollywood celebrities since the first foot and hand prints were cast in 1927. These concrete "monuments" are no less viable cultural statements than many other sculptural works from other cultures and require serious conservation—both preventive and interventive—to preserve them. ConservArt Associates, Inc., was initially asked to do a conservation/engineering survey of the over 200 sets of foot and hand prints from 181 dedication ceremonies (now 183) in order to prepare for a campaign to seismically retrofit the theater itself. The findings from the survey were unexpected in that there was no correlation of damage with age of the concrete. Also, there were important site stratigraphic and materials issues to be addressed in planning for the conservation of the works. This site encompasses many of the fundamental problems of the conservation of monuments but offers the refreshingly unusual perspective of pop culture and the cult of the celebrity that is truly international.

A Database to Manage Conservation Records

Chris Stavroudis

A database can be your best friend or your worst enemy. A well-designed database system with sufficiently complicated innards can be simple to use, useful, and might even save some time in managing information and preparing conservation documentation.

This talk will pick up where a similar talk from a 1998 presentation at the WAAC Annual Meeting at the Timberline Lodge left off. After reviewing the basics of what a database is and why anyone should care what a database is, we will look at some conservation databases and how they are used. First, we will wander through the new and improved database that manages information for the Los Angeles Mural Assessment and Conservation Project. This database is both the tool used in the field to survey murals as well as the management resource that will be provided to the City of Los Angeles so the Department of Cultural Affairs can have information on the murals that help define the visual landscape of LA. I will welcome you into the digital equivalent of my conservation studio. I will present my conservation record management system that does everything except treat artwork. It will be almost a short training session on how to use the database.

Preservation and Conservation of

Illuminated Manuscripts in the Collection of National Library in Prague

Jiri Vnoucek

This talk will introduce the collection of illuminated manuscripts held in the National Library in Prague and the range of preservation and conservation activities there. Special attention will be paid to the conservation survey of the rarest manuscripts that was aided by the Getty Grant Program. Proper storage and handling will be addressed. The new research project on the conservation of paint layers in illuminations and the practical treatment of unique 12th century manuscript bindings will also be discussed.

Paul Klee: Materials and Techniques

Jessica Baldwin

Paul Klee (1879 - 1940) was as much a creative scientist as an artist; his experiments with different media and supports form an inseparable part of the meaning and impact of his works. Klee received a very traditional technical training at the Academy of Arts in Munich from 1898 to 1901. Yet Munich, where Klee returned to live from 1906 to 1920, was also a center for the development of new painting mediums and techniques among the avant-garde. As a result he exploited an astonishing array of both traditional and unorthodox tools and techniques.

My fellowship has focused on the examination of Klee's works on paper held in the Djerassi Collection at SFMOMA. The complexity and variety of his techniques raised many questions about his media and methods and lead to a trip to the Klee Foundation in Bern. This paper will briefly outline Klee's life and his development as an artist. His working methods and materials will then be explored by discussing specific works, with emphasis on his application of media, manipulation of paper supports and their current condition. Klee's craftsmanship did not stop at the image; he mounted and framed a large number of his works and the importance of considering this when making treatment decisions will also be discussed.

Digital Scan Back Photography: Conservation Issues and Applications

Theresa Andrews, Ben Blackwell

Digital scanning cameras are seeing more and more widespread use in museums for image archiving and publishing. The conservation department at the SFMOMA has overseen two high-end digital scanning projects for the publication of major exhibition catalogues, and the museum is now beginning to digitize parts of it's collection using this equipment. Prior to the first scanning project at SFMOMA, research was undertaken into the set-up of the studio and scanning area, art handling and investigation of light levels during the scan in order to protect the art work in SFMOMA's collection as well as the art work lent by numerous other museums. The outcome of this investigation will be briefly presented as well as a description and demonstration of some of the museum applications of the digital scan back, especially those pertaining to conservation.

Preservation and Conservation at Walt Disney Feature Animation

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