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Subject: AATA


From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Friday, March 22, 1996
Again, dearest colleagues, exCUSE me;  I guess I hit a nerve.  Let
me explain my complaint of a couple days ago.  The issue raised by
the two examples I gave--removing aged emulsion adhesive from a
book-binding and removing black mold stains from a water color--are
not stupid questions because they are easy to answer; they are
stupid questions because they are difficult to answer. Let me take
one at a time.  Removal of stains from a water color is a major
conservation treatment which should only be undertaken by a
well-trained paper conservator.  It probably involves wet treatment,
possibly with some kind of bleaching agent, a risky business for
both the water color and, possibly, for the worker.  The answer to
the question would require wide experience with the problem, more
information about the water color in question (its age, technique,
the type and condition of the paper, likely pigments, etc.) and also
the results of testing.  A proposed treatment would describe not
only the materials to be used but also the exact
technique--immersion, float-washing, suction table, localized
application, etc., along with protection for possibly soluble or
bleach-sensitive areas, etc., etc.  In short, if you have to ask the
question, you shouldn't be doing the treatment.  A much more
specific  question related to a particular aspect of a possible
treatment would be quite a different matter.

The second example is somewhat different.  Aged emulsions can be
softened by a variety of solvents;  the results are slightly
different, but none in my experience allow the emulsion to be
removed easily, as the stuff tends to stay gooey.  The effects of
whatever solvent was chosen to soften the stuff and whatever
physical technique was chosen to actually remove it would depend on
the sensitivities of inks, dyes, the materials of the bindings,
etc., and removing the stuff without leaving icky stains would
require a knowledge of phenomena like tide lines and an ability to
manipulate solvents in ways that would not create more of a mess
than you are trying to get rid of, possibly, for example, using
solvent gels to increase viscosity.  In addition, the possibility of
using commercial solvent products entails unknown toxicities of
materials in rooms which are probably not set up with appropriate
ventilation for their use, another reason why this procedure would
be better done by a conservator.

Another issue that all users of information from this network (or
any other) is that any answer to any query could just as well be
wrong as right, and this is another reason why on-line queries have
to be combined with other information sources. The answerer may not
have enough relevant data on the nature of the question to provide
an answer that is appropriate to the object or to the situation in
which it is to be dealt with.  Questions could be better answered if
they were more completely stated.  Why, for example, does the
emulsion adhesive need to be removed from the book;  is the book a
valuable object in itself or simply a source of text;  is the book
in a static collection or in a circulating collection?  All these
bits of information would help to make the answer to the question a
more meaningful one, and would help the questioner evaluate the
usefulness of the answer.

For those of you who are not conservators but are responsible for
collections care, there is now a wide range of books available.
AATA includes books like this, but admittedly, mixed in with a lot
of technical stuff.  AIC, on the other hand, has several brochures
with lists of information sources. Call AIC (202) 452-9545 or write
(1717 K St., Suite 301, Washington, DC, 20006) for a postcard with a
list of publications to order.  The AIC Newsletter also has lists of
courses for conservators and non-conservators alike, many on
collections care issues.

In addition, I would recommend that anyone responsible to
conservation-related issues find a conservator who specializes in
your area and make friends;  if there is someone close enough to
stop by once in a while a look at things, all the better.  Even
better, find someone to do a conservation assessment and get some
serious advice.

My apologies to anyone who was offended by the tone of my previous
communication;  I still say, however, read a book.

Barbara Appelbaum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:66
                  Distributed: Monday, March 25, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-9-66-006
Received on Friday, 22 March, 1996

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