Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Conservation treatment

Conservation treatment

From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Monday, April 17, 2000
Two queries caught my eye, as taken together they seem to embody an
attitude that is becoming more common: that ideas about how to treat
something come only from the treatment of the exact same kind of
object. I do not mean to demonize those making the inquiries, as
their questions are perfectly reasonable, but I think that this
fixed idea makes the solutions to the problems more difficult to
come up with than is necessary.

Karen Wilson remarked that from the literature it seems that "very
little can be done to treat faience."  I believe that we have to
remind ourselves that, as important as literature searches are, an
exceedingly small percentage of conservation expertise is
represented in the literature ( which is, of course, why a query to
the list is such a good idea!).  In any case, the combination of
stickiness and efflorescence makes me suspicious that glass disease
is involved, and that dealing with the acute problem followed by
strict RH control should help. Analytical results that indicate that
the surface slime and/or crystals contain residues from air
pollution may be the result of air pollution dissolving in the
liquid on the surface. Or, the sticky stuff may be a residue from an
inadvisable earlier treatment and should be removed.  To whatever
degree air pollution is involved, a steady RH should control
efflorescence, and if the object is subjected to really bad air,
then there are straightforward ways to deal with that too.  My point
is that the problems of this piece, as nasty as they might be, are
not peculiar to faience.

Likewise, that very nasty-sounding bust covered with metal foil
(Peter Sixbey's query).  It would be interesting to find out if this
technique was widespread, but the problem, it seems to me, boils
down to two alternatives, trying to stabilize the object by removing
soluble salts or by other less drastic means.  If poulticing from
the inside is not possible, then the best plan would seem to be
localized removal of salts and reattaching the foil with, probably,
a synthetic resin, and again, stabilizing the RH.  Again, this
sounds like a nasty treatment, but the solutions will come from
general conservation expertise, not from particular knowledge of
this kind of object.

I think we have become a little over-burdened by the idea that we
should know all about the technology of objects we treat.  This is a
good thing, of course, when it works out, but not always relevant
to, or necessary for, carrying out a treatment.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:52
                  Distributed: Friday, April 21, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-52-002
Received on Monday, 17 April, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]