Paper Conservators: News and Ideas Exchange 2016

This week’s blog post comes from Conservation Volunteers Mathilde Renauld and Paula Burbicka, who recently attended a paper conservators new and ideas exchange event at the CRC….

Scotland’s Paper Conservators gathered on May 4th 2016 for informal 5-minute presentations and socialising, hosted by the Centre for Research Collections (CRC), University of Edinburgh.

Organiser Helen Creasy (The Scottish Conservation Studio) began by enumerating the outcomes of last year’s news and ideas exchange; this year’s well attended event will also assuredly be impactful. Talks were enthusiastically received, prompting many questions and fruitful discussions.

Paper conservators at the news and ideas exchange

Paper conservators at the news and ideas exchange

Firstly, Isobel Griffin described National Library of Scotland’s (NLS) new system for conservation requests, which prevents backlogs by consistently prioritising objects by age and previous treatment requests.

Mary Garner (NLS) presented “Preparing Collections for Digitisation.” Listing risks and problematic projects she has handled, Mary addressed the treatment choices Digitisation Conservators make.

Shona Fleming (NLS) gave insights on “Working with volunteers.” Promoting the 10-week NLS volunteering scheme, Shona concluded that institutions must retain a balanced approach to volunteering.

Vicki Hanley from National Museums of Scotland (NMS) discussed the conservation of 20 rolls of fabulous French Panoramic Wallpaper, treating damages and previous repairs. Lisa Cumming (NMS) explained their permanent mounting, allowing for flat storage, and introduced an innovative magnetic mounting, which incorporates metal rulers into layered Hexlite, paper, and museum board.

Charlotte Park from National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) recounted using new methods in-situ while installing Michael Fullerton’s ‘Prussian Blue’, of which some works were adhered to gallery walls.

After questions and home-baked cake, the second part initiated with University of Glasgow (UoG) Louise Robertson’s talk “Moving studio – managing stress!” In line with the Library’s redevelopment, Louise excitedly revealed the enhanced studio plans.

Arni Terhemaa and Laura Kulechova, NGS “Finterns”, described “Studying Paper Conservation in Finland.” Finland’s biggest technical institution, Helsinki Metropolia offers the country’s only Conservation course, covering six specialisms, each with a quadrennial intake of ten students.

Kerry Yates, from UoG Archives Services, presented its preservation principles, in a talk inspired by the phrase “archives can be…” Memorably, archives can be surprising when they produce wedding dresses!

Following this, Lynn Teggart (NLS) discussed the conservation of a fragile roller map using a blotter wash technique.

Richard Aitken (Highland Archive) talk “Treatment of a Tiree plan” explained the story behind the conservation process of an 18th century map. He demonstrated step-by-step the techniques used to restore the artefact.

A different outlook on paper conservation was provided by Gloria Conti’s talk who outlined her project at the National Records of Scotland (NRS). Gloria gave a highly personal reflection on her work and showed that conservation can be a socially benefiting field to be in.

After more questions, cake and chat Emily Hick from the CRC outlined her methods and experiments used to reveal the hidden text within the pages of a bound volume using Photoshop and infra-red light.

Becky May presented her MA research based at the UoG. The ongoing project concerns the Arts and Crafts patterns and designs from the Cummersdale Textile Collection.

Following this, Ryan Gibson from NLS talked about the merits of documenting conservation work on film, and making this accessible to the general public to create a wider understanding of paper conservation

Next to speak was freelance conservator, Anna Trist, who concentrated on her treatment of the Moirlanich longhouse wallpaper, a project which focused on the conservation of a National Trust of Scotland property which provides unique evidence of rural Scottish life at the turn of the century.

Helen Creasy also stayed within the theme of wallpaper, giving a short talk about the conservation of the Chinese wallpaper at Abbotsford. This account touched upon the various problems faced by the conservation team.

Last to speak was Anita Quye from UoG, who described the variety of dyeing manuals in her new research project “Dye-Versity: researching 19th century dyeing manuals”.

There are many benefits from the open discussions and ideas exchange promoted by this event, which was noticeable in the continued discussions and overall enthusiasm shown during the meeting. Such co-operation is necessary for the paper conservation field to evolve in all its diversity and complexity.

Mathilde Renauld and Paula Burbicka

Conservation Volunteers at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

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