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Subject: Softening painting layers

Softening painting layers

From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo<-a>
Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Nina Roth-Wells <backriver1 [at] gwi__net> writes

>Ulrik Runeberg <rune-ulrik [at] gmx__de> writes
>>Who has gained experience in softening deformed painting layers
>>(traditional oil and acrylic painting media)?
>I have had very good experiences using Aquazol and a Leister hot air
>gun. ...

Margaret Watherson did a considerable amount of work on softening
paint films in the 60s and 70s.  She published some of her results
in the Technical Papers of the IIC-American Group published in 1970
and elaborated on them in an article in the IIC Lisbon Congress in
1972 published as Conservation and Restoration of Pictorial Art, ed.
by Norman Brommelle and Perry Smith.   These methods included the
use of organic solvents and water in combination with a hot suction
table and relate generally to the treatment of a painting removed
from its stretcher bars.   Barry Bauman in Illinois has extended her
methods over a considerable number of examples and could be
contacted for details.

For more localized treatments, Lance Mayer and Gay Myers published
results of their interventions using moisture and pressure in the
Preprints of the New Orleans AIC meeting in 1988.   A very clear and
useful description of the use of the Mitka apparatus was presented
by Eric Gordon, Karen French, Peter Nelsen and Catherine Rogers in
the Paintings Specialty section at the 1997 AIC meeting in San Diego
and printed in the Postprints.   I reported on my use of a hot tool
system and a hair dryer and BEVA D-8 for lifting and curling paint
at the IIC meeting in Bilbao last year and published in the

I prefer BEVA for this situation as it can be activated at will and
drying is not a consideration.  Also, BEVA is a stable and tested
product with adhesive qualities which are known.  BEVA that appears
on the surface in unwanted areas can be reduced by the use of
solvents.  I certainly find Aquazol to be a useful addition to our
kit of supplies, but one must keep in mind its limitations the most
important of which is its poor adhesion and its ability to become
tacky in high humidity.  I wrote on this in an earlier post on the
DistList some years ago.  Julie Arslanoglu published a study of
Aquazol in the WAAC Newsletter in January 2004.  Her results seem to
give it some greater degree of stability than that I found in the
literature, so we might find some confidence in its use in

Niccolo Caldararo, Ph.D.
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:5
                  Distributed: Saturday, July 9, 2005
                        Message Id: cdl-19-5-005
Received on Tuesday, 28 June, 2005

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