Volume 3, Number 1, Feb. 1981, pp.4-6

Meeting In Review: WAAC Conference, 10 & 11 October 1980

Various authors

The 1980 Annual WAAC Conference was held at the San Diego Museum of Art on Friday and Saturday October 10th and 11th, 1980. The business meeting (see minutes) was the first scheduled event and was followed by a full day of lectures (see abstracts). There was no general theme to the lectures, but an attempt was made to include a broad range of topics at a professional level and to allow for the representation of as many of the different areas of specialization as was possible in the time available.

Lunch consisted of box lunches put together by a local gourmet delicatessen and was eaten outside in the park. Following a wine and cheese reception Friday evening at the Timken Gallery, SDMA's neighboring Balboa Park, the banquet was held at a nearby restaurant in downtown San Diego.

On Saturday, October 11, the first half of the day's scheduled events again took place in the SDMA. The BACC laboratories were open for visits most of the morning. Meanwhile, informal talks, demonstrations and lectures were held in the Board Room until noon. Later in the morning, additional demonstrations were held in the BACC labs as well.

Following lunch, the group was conducted on tours of two sites the San Diego area of interest to conservators. The first was a visit to the laboratories of John Asmus as Maxwell Laboratories. Dr. Asmus gave a lecture/slide show of his most recent work, and demonstrated the use of some of this laser equipment in the cleaning of metals. The second half of the afternoon was taken up by a visit to the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and included a tour of the museum by curator Robert McDonald and a wine and cheese reception in the Director's Office.

Sarah Fisher, President, WAAC
Business Meeting
October 10, 1980

The business meeting of the Western Association of Art Conservators was held on 10 October 1980, at 9:00 a.m. in the Board Room of the San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego. CA. The meeting was called to order by WAAC President David Bull, and the conference attendants were welcomed to the host museum by its Director, Steven Brezzo. Sarah Fisher, WAAC Vice-President, spoke briefly to orient attendants to the conference arrangements.

Old Business:
President Report

The cancellation of the proposed WAAC conference to have been held in Portland, Oregon, on 11-12 October 1979, was discussed. A widespread telephone poll, numerous preliminary commitments, and six months of advance planning failed to draw more than 18 actual registrants. The question was raised whether this failure signified a lack of interest in the membership, a conflict of too many conferences each year arranged by different organizations, or particular geographical difficulties with associated problems of travel costs. Conference attendants were responsive in discussing the type, frequency, and location of future meetings and the possibility of coordination with other groups.

The refusal of the J. Paul Getty Museum, on fiscal grounds, to permit their staff to attend the present meeting was discussed.

California State Senate Bill No. 668 was discussed. WAAC had been unable to influence this legislation before its passage. Maurice Meyers, the lawyer retained for this purpose, has offered to make a contribution to WAAC in lieu of returning his $500 dollar retainer. The question was raised whether in the future WAAC would require a lawyer or a lobbyist to act on its behalf. The WAAC Newsletter was praised and much gratitude was expressed to Victoria Blyth for her efforts in making it a professional publication. Mr. Bull read a letter to the membership from Ms. Blyth outlining the difficulty of producing such work with a very few volunteers, and soliciting local correspondents to serve as reporters in relaying news to the Newsletter Office.


James Bernstein was called upon to report the recent activities of the National Conservation Advisory Council, of which he is a voting member as representative of The Bay Area Art Conservation Guild, as well as Chairman of the NCAC Education and Training Committee. The need for closer NCAC communication with the profession at large was discussed. There may be a NCAC Newsletter initiated, possibly to be distributed through the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Secretary/Treasurer's Report

Gary Wade Alden, WAAC Secretary/Treasurer reviewed the fiscal activities of the organization in the past year. Lawyer Maurice Meyers was issued a $500 dollar retainer, as discussed previously. A dance at the 8th annual meeting of the AIC in San Francisco on 25 May 1980 was co-sponsored by BAACG and WAAC, for which WAAC contributed $150. Costs of the WAAC Newsletter publication, including typesetting and printing costs, labeling and mailing costs, phone bills, etc., have ranged from $220 to $250 dollars for each issue. Smaller costs of general office business are ongoing.

Annual membership dues were raised this year to $15, renewable the 1st of July. Since WAAC income derives from membership fees. there is a swell of money each summer which must last the entire year. One advantage of incorporation as a non-profit corporation would be the possibility of securing outside funding for special projects such as conservation labels or resource booklets.

Declining WAAC membership was discussed. In 1979-80, 94 previous members renewed and 18 new members joined in the course of the year, for a total of 112. In 1980-81m only 57 previous members have renewed by the time of the meeting, with 11 new members for a total of 68.(Note: WAAC Conferences historically bring a rush of renewals. As of 10 December 1980, WAAC membership totals 102.)

After discussion. it was decided to add the membership expiration date at the corner of the mailing label, so that members would be reminded whether they had renewed or not.

Not counting conference monies, the balance of the WAAC account stands at $893.90.

New Business:
Election of New Officers

The results of the mail ballot were announced. Vice-President Sarah Fisher automatically assumed the Presidency for the next year. James Druzik was elected Vice-President, to serve as program chairman for the Autumn 1981 meeting and become President for 1981-82. The three members-at-large to serve on the Executive Committee were Denise Domergue, Leslie Kruth, and Zora Pinney.

New President's Address

Sarah Fisher discussed the future direction of WAAC. Questions of non-profit incorporation and the establishment of separate membership categories were discussed. There was general agreement on the desirability of incorporation.

The change of the organization name, which had been ratified at a previous meeting, was delayed until a committee could be formed to review the situation and coordinate with the efforts of incorporation.

Zora Pinney was commended for her labors in the revision of the WAAC Resource Booklet. Ms. Pinney reported on the status of her efforts to produce a new and useful publication, requested clarification of the desires of the membership, and invited volunteer help. The question of eventual financial assistance was raised.

Two committees were formed: The Resource Booklet Committee headed by Zora Pinney, and the Committee on Non-Profit Incorporation, headed by Sarah Fisher.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

Respectfully submitted by:
Gary Wade Alden
Secretary/Treasurer WAAC

Review of Annual Conference of the Western Association of Art Conservators

San Diego. California
October 10-11, 1980

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 10th

All activities took place in the San Diego Museum of Art, Board Room, unless otherwise specified)

Late registration coffee
Business Meeting
Jim Greaves: The Lining of a Double-Sided Oil Painting
Jim Druzik: Air Pollution and Los Angeles: A Case Study of an Oxidizing Environment
Lunch in Balboa Park (box lunches are available to those who reserved them at rear of the Board Room)

Jim Bernstein, Inge-Lise Eckmann: Compensation Techniques for Contemporary Paintings
John Twilley: The Microchemical Detection of Indian Yellow Pigment in an Indian Miniature
Robin Tichane: Marketing Art Conservation
Stan Derelian: Oriental Rugs
William Adair: The Conservation of Gilded Objects
Billie Milam: Bronzes, Inherent Vices in Foundry Techniques
John Twilley: Compositional Analysis of Pre-Columbian Gold Artifacts
Robin Tichane: Intensive Care: Seventy-Two Photographs from the Analysis and Treatment of One Painting
Reception, wine and cheese. Timken Art Gallery, Balboa Park, next to San Diego Museum of Art
Dinner at Soledad Franco, downtown San Diego

Saturday, October 11th

(Morning workshops/demonstrations)

Open House, BACC laboratories, second floor
Denise Domergue: The Treatment of a Large Sam Francis Painting (Board Room)
George Wight, Jim Greaves: Environmental Chamber Design (Board Room)
Jim Druzik: Discussion on Pollution
William Adair: Gilding Demonstration (Cons. Labs.)
Sarah Fisher: Discussion--Solvent System for Flattening Panels (West Lab. second floor)
John Twilley: Sensitized Gelatin Films for Specific Identification of Chloride Ions in Corroded Metal (East Lab, second floor)
Lunch (Box lunches available)
Tours: John Asmus' labs, UCSD. La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art

Abstracts of Talks Presented

(Prepared by Authors)

Friday, October 10th

Treatment of a Double-Sided Oil Painting by Erich Heckel (from the Robert Gore Rifkind Collection)
J. L. Greaves

The obverse painting is "Picture of a Woman" done in 1913; the reverse, "The Swing" was painted ca. 1910. The obverse is in basically good condition with a few spots of flaking. The reverse has deteriorated extensively from neglect - i.e. it had been largely ignored as a work of art until obtained by the present owner. The relatively routine procedures of cleaning, consolidation and compensation will be reviewed. Emphasis will be on a practical step-by-step explanation of the technique of strip lining using a hotmelt adhesive and the method of stretching in a specially designed split stretcher designed to optimize viewing from both sides.

Air Pollution and Los Angeles:
A Case Study of an Oxidizing Environment
Jim Druzik

Air pollution is defined and classified, and normal environmental conditions are outlined along with abnormal anthropogenic ones. A distinction is made between the older type of pollution characterized by low temperature, high humidity, and large sulfur dioxide, and the newer form first seriously studied in Los Angeles: the oxidizing type of air pollution characterized by high temperatures, large amounts of automobile produced nitrogen oxides, low humidity, and a large inclusion of auto emitted hydrocarbons. This last type being now very common in many metropolitan areas.

The daily development of photochemical smog is described along with the buildup of ozone and a look into the complex relations of the oxides of nitrogen. Sulfur dioxide is reviewed and its subsequent oxidation to sulfur trioxide and then the very fast formation of sulfuric acid in the presence of even trace amounts of water.

Possibilities are explored concerning the effects of these agents upon the accelerated deterioration of paper and textiles, and specific sites along the glucose chain are described for their vulnerability. The general review of the literature is given concerning oxidative damage and theories are offered. Acid rain is looked at and its characterization is briefly described. Temporal distributions are given and dry flux acidity is defined. (This area has been fully developed with the Los Angeles Group of paper conservators and a thirty page report is additionally available for the conference.)

Total oxidants/ozone are briefly looked into with a notion of possible effects on exterior sculpture. Micrometeorology is introduced along with some considerations of specific importance for museums, collectors, historical societies, etc. located near the sea, and the potential amplification of total environmental acidity with the inclusion of sea salt particulate matter.

Finally, the work of the California Institute of Technology, Environmental Quality Laboratory, (EQL), Report to the People is summarized. EPA standards are outlined, and a question/answer period is included.

Compensation Techniques for Contemporary Paintings
Inge-Lise Eckmann, James Bernstein

Modern painting structures demand diverse and exacting compensation techniques. From lean, granular surfaces to heavy, impasto-laden structures, contemporary artists stretch the limits of painting media. Their unusual art works are highly vulnerable to damage. Fingermarks, stains, abrasions, scrapes, gouges, cracks, breaks, discoloration and losses are problems frequently encountered. After consolidation procedures have bean carried out, cosmetic compensation is often required. If the compensation is to be successful, the conservator must fully explore media and techniques to develop solutions appropriate to the works being treated.

The presentation includes a sampling of modern painting structures by artists Feitelson, Raffael, Scholder, Tapies, Reilly, Marden, F. Stella, Hofmann, De Forest, Frankenthaler, Rothko, Albers, Still, and Reinhardt. Conditions requiring compensation are identified: damaged supports; delaminating, friable, blanching, cracking, flaking, abraded, gouged or deformed paint; discolored retouching; and soiling. Compensation techniques are demonstrated for preparation of surfaces, filling and texturing, application of color and surface finishing.

The Microchemical Detection of Indian Yellow Pigment in an Indian Miniature
John Twilley

The tests undertaken to identify the yellow pigment in an Indian miniature painting will be described. Application of non-sampling methods and microchemical tests have kept intrusion to the painting to a minimum. Results from thin layer chromatography and microsublimation show the pigment to be true Indian Yellow.

The Conservation of Gilded Objects
William Adair

Application of gold leaf is an age-old process. Egyptian tombs reveal elaborate gold-leaf work. Examples remain of Phoenician gold work, and in ancient China the use of gold leaf for ornamental creations was also practiced. 0f all metals, gold is the most valuable and can be beaten into leaves so thin as to be invisible on end under an optical microscope.

This presentation will cover the history of gold-leafing, basic methods of application and production and improvement through the centuries, including the most traditional procedures in gilding.

Bronzes: Inherent Vice in Foundry Materials and Environmental Hazards
Billie Milam

Environmental pollution and moisture are harmful to works of art including bronzes. In addition there are potential sources of deterioration that are inherent in the "extremely durable" sculptures themselves. To better understand these detrimental factors the author has visited various foundries to observe present day foundry techniques. This presentation will discuss the composition of modern alloys, patinas, cores, investments, and shells. It will give examples of how certain of these materials and related foundry techniques interacting with the environment contribute to the deterioration of sculpture. The importance of the artist's participation in the transformation from model to finished cast will also be discussed briefly.

Compositional Analysis of Pre-Columbian Gold Artifacts
John Twilley

A new technique for x-ray fluorescence analysis of ternary gold- silver copper alloys was developed in order to allow the study of compositional variations in a group of Columbian tunjos. The results indicate that the allowed variations coincide with stylistic differences among the votive objects which all originated in the Muisca culture. Further tests on surface residue present on one of the objects suggest that it may be material left from one of the sophisticated gilding techniques employed at that time. These results will be discussed in light of the historical account of gilding techniques recorded by the Spanish.

Conservation Photography: 72 Photographs From the Analysis and Treatment of One Painting
Robin Myron Tichane

A vast amount of technical data can be obtained from every individual painting. Technical photography plays a crucial role in examining paintings from multiple viewpoints. One painting is used to demonstrate color and black and white photos of the entire painting in normal light, a close-up detail, a photomacrograph, infra red, ultra violet, monochrome sodium light, black and white photos only of transmitted, raking, specular light, and the reverse of the painting, color and black and white photo-micrographs of canvas fibers, pigment samples, cross-sections, and microchemical test reactions, photos of visible fluorescence, the painting cleaned without compensation of losses, and the finished conserved painting.

Then, 24 different stages in the conservation of this one painting are shown to document the analysis, stabilization, restoration, and long-range protection that are involved in art conservation from beginning to end. Finally comparisons are made between the painting as received and the painting as finished in color and black and white photographs: the entire painting, a close-up derail, a photomacrograph, raking, and specular light.

Saturday, October 11th

Sensitized Gelatin Films for the Specific Identification of Chloride Ions in Corroded Metal
John Twilley

This microchemical technique presents a few advantages to the more common use of an acidified silver nitrate test solution. It is not subject to the interferences caused by benzotriazole, sulfate, and phosphate in the latter case nor to confusion by the evolution of gas bubbled as occurs when carbonate is present along with chloride.

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