ATOMIC OXYGEN TREATMENT AS A METHOD OF RECOVERING SMOKE-DAMAGED PAINTINGS
SHARON K. RUTLEDGE, BRUCE A. BANKS, MARK FORKAPA, THOMAS STUEBER, EDWARD SECHKAR, & KEVIN MALINOWSKI
4 4. CONCLUSIONS
Atomic oxygen treatment has been shown to effectively remove soot and charred varnish from a full-size oil painting and to be able to partially clean a fire-damaged ink drawing on paper. Masking techniques can be used to treat one area more extensively without leaving visible cleaning lines. Treatment can progress at the discretion of the conservator, from light surface-cleaning to more extensive removal of fire damage. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove some of the paint binder. This step would leave the pigment loosely bound on the surface. The pigment can be rebound by using a fine spray mist of a material of the conservator's choice. When cleaning, it is important to verify that the materials present in the artwork are safe for atomic oxygen cleaning by cleaning a small representative edge or corner prior to treatment of the entire painting. This technique appears to have great potential for removing soot and char from the surface of art damaged during a fire and may allow treatments of previously untreatable works of art. The process is not intended to be a replacement for conventional techniques, but as an additional conservation tool in applications where conventional techniques have not been effective.