Volume 11, Number 1, Jan. 1989, pp.7-10

Technical Exchange

Chris Stavroudis, column editor

Archaeological Conservation Newsletter

A newsletter focusing specifically on issues relating to archaeology and conservation is now being formed. At present it has the somewhat unoriginal name Archaeological Conservation Newsletter, and its aim is to encourage the exchange of information between the conservator and archaeologist. Its goals are to promote archaeological conservation on site, the preservation/protection of archaeological sites, and the post- excavation care of archaeological collections (processing, packing, transportation, and storage).

In the absence of any archaeological conservation organization with these goals, the newsletter exists independently. Affiliation is currently being sought with the Objects Group of AIC and with one or more archaeological organizations. An introductory copy of the newsletter may be obtained by writing to:

c/o Jeff Maish
Antiquities Conservation - JPGM
P.O. Box 2112
Santa Monica, CA 90406


In the course of my work at the Antiquities Department of the J. Paul Getty Museum last year, I adapted the flexibility of Gillette Blue Blades for a specific task. Finding that ordinary scalpels were too unwieldy for cleaning clay incrustations from a Hellenistic terracotta votive figurine, a lightweight, sharp tool was designed from simple materials at hand. After bending a blade lengthwise until it broke into two parts, the edge of the blade was held with hemostats (or small needle-nosed pliers) and bent against a straight surgical blade until the sharp area broke into a rectangular sliver. If the resulting sliver was too irregular, it was trimmed with wire clippers. The resulting sharp edge was one to two millimeters in width. Using 30-minute epoxy, it was mounted onto the end of a wooden applicator stick that was first sharpened to a double bevel. During the past year, I have found this mini-razorblade to be indispensable in several conservation treatments. [Editor's Note: Snapping or snipping razor blades as described can cause small bits to go flying. Please wear eye protection, appropriate protective clothing, and exercise due caution.]

Jo Hill, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Gillette Blades in Bulk

Gillette Double Edge Razor Blades can be purchased in bulk for those really BIG jobs. These blades can be purchased in a metal holder called a magazine containing a whopping 1,562 blades. The magazine and the blades are purchased separately because, when empty, the magazine can be returned and refilled. Currently, the magazine sells for $18.15 and 1,562 blades cost $78.10 (approx. 5 cents each). There is a choice between Gillette Platinum Blades and Gillette Regular Blue Blades. To order, call or write to Mr. Michael Dolan, Gillette Co., Sales Order Processing Department, Gillette Park, Boston, MA 02166, (617) 463-2008. To refill an empty magazine, re-order from: Gillette Co., Andover Manufacturing Plant, 30 Burtt Road, Andover MA 01810. Please note that Gillette will be moving their manufacturing plant to France which will eventually delay or complicate the re-ordering procedure.

Janice Schopfer, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Chelsea Green Blues

A cautionary note on the use of the Chelsea Green color filter for the identification of gemstones, specifically emeralds. Emeralds, when viewed through the Chelsea filter are supposed to appear red. Ours did not. When we questioned John Koivula, Chief Gemmologist at GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) about this, he said that the emeralds may simply not have had enough chromium in them to transmit red light. He did not recommend the use of the Chelsea Green filter for the identification of gemstones.

Madeline Hexter and Jerry Podany
J. Paul Getty Museum

Silicone Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Transfer Tapes

Scott Haskins is now preparing to pull together his notes and experiences from the last ten years and publish a paper on the use of silicone pressure sensitive adhesive transfer tapes. The product was once produced by Dennison and is now being produced by Flexcon. Alterations in the components of the adhesive have changed its performance over the years, but it appears that both supplier and the material are now stable enough to warrant presenting the material for conservation use. In preparation for the paper, artificial aging tests will be performed, again. Therefore, while in the process of writing the paper and waiting for test results, I would like to make available samples of Densil 2078 if there is anyone interested in seeing what this product is like. Along with the sample, I will include a technical sheet and a brief description of some of its uses. Presently, its applications appear to be most useful in paintings, paper, and textile conservation. Please contact:

Scott M. Haskins Conservator
Fine Art Conservation Laboratories
P.O. Box 23557
Santa Barbara, CA 93121
(805) 564-3438

Beva 371 Toxicity

Adam Chemical Co., Inc. has discontinued producing and distributing solvent based Beva 371 adhesive. Citing concerns over the toxicological hazards posed by the solvents used in the liquid product, they are distributing the product only as a dry film, renamed ADAM 371 EVA Film. For further information, contact Dr. Harold I. Zeliger, President, Adam Chemical Co., Inc., 18 Spring Hill Terrace, Spring Valley, NY 10977.

Abietic Acid

Sigma Chemical Company of St. Louis notified us in September 1988 that our mid-1986 purchase of Abietic Acid (marked 85 percent pure) was actually only 10-20 percent pure. They sent us a replacement and recommended the disposal of the prior product, as they were unsure of the impure components.

Mary Hough, Tatyana M. Thompson & Associates, Inc.

Preservation Directory for Archivists

The Society of California Archivists is in the process of compiling a preservation resources directory for the use of its membership. The Society, which was established in 1971 to promote cooperation and exchange of information among individuals interested in the preservation and use of archival materials, has more than 350 active members.

One section of the proposed directory will list professional conservators who specialize in the conservation of paper, books, photographs, sound recordings, and/or motion picture film. If you wish to be included in the directory, please send your name, address, telephone number, and area of specialty/expertise to: Jane Klinger-Freeman, Conservator, National Archives-Pacific Sierra Regional Archives, 1000 Commodore Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066, (415) 876-9009. The deadline for inclusion is March 15, 1989.

Getty Grant Program Announces First Architectural Conservation Grants

The Getty Grant Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust has awarded the first three grants, totaling $300,000, under its new Architectural Conservation Grant category. Each grant provides support in one of three architectural conservation phases. The awards follow the Program's announcement in April to support the conservation of architecturally, historically, and culturally important properties worldwide. An international advisory committee comprised of preservation architects, architectural historians, anthropologists, and others in related fields has worked with John Sanday, Program Officer, to develop the program and select projects for awards.

A $15,000 project identification grant was awarded to the Hacienda de los Luceros in Alcalde, New Mexico. The first Spanish settlement in New Mexico, the 16th century adobe complex was threatened by development. The American Studies Foundation recently acquired the complex and plans to preserve it as a living museum. The grant will enable the Foundation to research and develop a program for the repair and conservation of this important complex. The project will also serve as a catalyst in the development of techniques for the conservation and repair of hundreds of other adobe structures throughout the Southwestern U.S. and other areas of the world.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Freeman House in Los Angeles received a $35,000 project preparation and survey grant. The grant will be used to develop a detailed survey, technical drawings, and cost analysis for the repair and conservation of the Freeman House under the auspices of the University of Southern California. The project will contribute to the development of a conservation philosophy for this building, which has undergone a series of alterations by such eminent architects as Rudolph Schindler and John Lautner.

The Spencer Pierce Little House received a $250,000 implementation grant to provide financial assistance for the repair and conservation of this unique property. The house is owned and managed by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA). The House, built primarily of brick and stone in the early 1700s, survives intact, without major alteration, as the centerpiece of a working farm and represents a distinct phase of architectural development in New England. The Getty Grant Program invites inquiries from nonprofit organizations that own nationally listed properties in countries throughout the world. More details can be obtained by writing to the Getty Grant Program, Architectural Conservation Grants, 401 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1000, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

The J. Paul Getty Trust
Press Release

Software Query

Claire Dean is looking for examples of software (IBM/IBM compatible) being used to catalogue photographic slides used for teaching and programs used for conservation treatment records, condition reports, etc. If anyone has information to pass on please contact her at 4047A Irving Place, Culver City, CA 90230.

Museum Computer Network

The Museum Computer Network exists to foster the application of computer technology in achieving the cultural aims of museums. The Network is a not-for-profit organization that has served museums and museum professionals since 1972. The Museum Computer Network publishes "Spectra" (a quarterly devoted to museum automation) and other materials of interest to its members, holds an annual conference, and offers workshops, seminars and other educational programs. Membership costs are: $25 for individual, $50 for institutional, and $10 for subscribing. For information or a membership application, contact: Museum Computer Network, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, (315) 443-5612.

Conservation Materials Ltd.

Doug Adams has a number of new, old, or differently packaged products in stock. The potassium permanganate coated onto alumina beads discussed in the last Newsletter is called Carusorb and is in stock. Also of interest is orthophenylphenol, a preservative. Available either as a pure powder or supplied in a 10% solution in propylene glycol that can be added to PVA emulsion adhesives (2ml of the solution per quart of emulsion, stir, and you have a 0.05% OPP preserved adhesive.)

Also new, Acryloid B-67 45% in mineral spirits; Stoddard solvent in 2 1/2 gallon high-density polyethylene containers; triethanolamine; and oleic acid. He also is stocking the original Chinaglaze from England, in addition to Torlife ceramic glaze.

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