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Subject: Furniture damaged by fire

Furniture damaged by fire

From: Alastair Fox <<-at->
Date: Monday, December 14, 2009
Christopher Gray <methistory [at] aol__com> writes

>Recently I cross-posted the Canadian posting about "a fire-damaged,
>Victorian sewing table where consolidation of localized charring was
>a main concern." (Conservation DistList Instance: 23:19 Sunday,
>November 29, 2009) Cons DistList subscribers will probably not
>recall it as anything too remarkable, but the extent of the measures
>taken to keep the item intact struck me as verging on idolatry,
>although I have no  way of knowing whether or not the table belonged
>to Queen Victoria or whatever.  (This is not to say that I did not
>find admirable and interesting the science behind the post itself.)

It was disappointing to read Mr Gray's letter about the treatment of
a burnt sewing table.  While it does not seem useful to respond to
many of the points in his post, I felt some clarifications were

The mandate of the Canadian Conservation Institute is to support the
heritage community in preserving Canada's heritage collections; our
activities include training emerging conservators and carrying out
treatment development to preserve (not reproduce) Canadian Heritage.

The sewing table damaged by the fire was used to develop new
treatment for fire damaged furniture--a subject on which there seems
to be very little current information--and as a training piece for a
highly skilled intern. Other criteria for selecting this piece
included the provenance (it is from the collection of the original
owners and a core artifact for a historic house museum), and the
quality of the walnut burl marquetry table.

The results from testing of consolidants and resins at CCI are used
by conservators and preservation specialists around the world who
are concerned about the properties and the performance of these
products. This work saves time and money, especially benefitting
other organizations that would not have the resources internally to
research the best ways to preserve their artifacts. Understanding
the long term effects of products used in treatments ensures that
costly (and sometimes irreversible) mistakes are avoided.

Alastair Fox
Conservator of Furniture and Decorative Arts
Canadian Conservation Institute
1030 Innes Road
Ottawa Canada K1A 0M5
613-998-3721 ext. 286

                  Conservation DistList Instance 23:21
                 Distributed: Monday, December 14, 2009
                       Message Id: cdl-23-21-004
Received on Monday, 14 December, 2009

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