Volume 13, Number 3, Sept 1991, pp.22-23

Technical Exchange

Walter Henry, column editor

Analytical Services for Private Conservators

As a result of internal research needs and an interest in furthering scientific support for private conservators, ConservArt Associates is considering offering limited analytical services to private conservators. The services would include media, pigment and fibre analyses (by several methods) at reasonable prices and turnaround times. In order to plan equipment acquisition and personnel development, it is necessary to assess what the perceived need is within the regional conservation community. If anyone is interested in an analytical service run by conservation professionals--for conservation professionals, please consider and respond to the following questions:

  1. Do you require medium, pigment or fiber analyses for conservation projects?
  2. How many analyses per year do you require?
  3. What turn-around time would be optimal (be reasonable; i.e., with respect to existing private analytical services)?
  4. What would you be willing to pay per analysis per sample?
  5. How often do you expect to use directly the results of a particular analysis to choose or to modify a treatment?

If you have an interest, please forward your responses and communicate your needs or questions to the undersigned.

Dr. Duane R. Chartier
ConservArt Associates
826 North Sweetzer Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Fax and Phone: 213/852-9739

Papermaking Supplies

Although primarily a wholesale supplier of cotton linter pulps, Gold's Artworks, Inc. carries an intriguing variety of papermaking tools and materials that may be of some interest to paper conservators. In addition to ready-made (hydrated) pulps, beaters, molds, and felts, they sell a device called The Pulpsprayer (tm), that connects to an air compressor and sprays fiber at a rate up to 1 gallon/ minute. Might be just the thing for those really challenging pulp fills, especially for gigantic lacunae. Cover the furniture, switch the suction table to overdrive and party on, Garth. For a catalog, write

Gold's Artworks, Inc.
2100 North Pine Street
Lumberton, NC 28358



Samples from the collections of the various units of the Museum of New Mexico are being analyzed for siburization residues, which may include arsenic (sodium arsenite). Many museum collections were treated this way from the 1930s-1960s. The museum is interested in hearing from individuals who are familiar with other collections that have been siburized. Please get in touch with Bettina Raphael of the museum's Conservation Section (505/827-6350).

Landis Smith

(Editor's note: Molly Mehaffy of the Museum of New Mexico offered the following further information: Records at the Museum of New Mexico indicate that a company called "Sibur" made a mothproofing solution in the 1930s containing sodium arsenite. The solution was mixed with water and sprayed onto textiles. Another later document identifies "siburizing" as containing zinc sodium fluoride.--E.C.W.)

Vacuum Cleaners

A common first step in many conservation treatments is the removal of surface dust and debris by vacuuming. Recommended vacuum cleaners are usually those that are the canister type with a long flexible hose and a soft circular brush attachment. The suction is reduced by opening an orifice in the hose and the long soft bristles also diffuse the suction.

Convention vacuum cleaners do have drawbacks: often the suction is too strong; as the bag fills up the efficiency decreases; the exhaust can be contaminated with fine particles not trapped by the bag. An alternative to the canister-type vacuum cleaner is the water vacuum. The incoming air is filtered by a container of water, which traps dirt and dust. The efficiency remains high until the water turns to mud. In addition, the exhaust is clean, assuring the operator that the room remains clean. This is an advantage when vacuuming storage and exhibition areas.

The Conservation Center at LACMA recently purchased the Rainbow Vacuum made by Rexair, Inc. The motor was modified by adding a speed controller that can reduce the amount of suction by lowering the voltage to the motor. Lower suction also results in a much quieter machine. In addition, a micro-nozzle is available for vacuuming in small areas. This has made for a most versatile piece of equipment. Rainbow vacuums are sold by regional distributors. Our distributor in the Los Angeles area is Mr. Gilbert Garcia (phone: 818/291-9456). [Editor's note: this phone number was corrected in the following issue to 818/281-9456.] Perhaps unique among these distributors, Mr. Garcia also holds an engineering degree, qualifying him to make the modifications we required.

For vacuuming in small close areas a dental vacuum can be a convenient tool. Jane Bassett at PRCC introduced us to the dental vacuum made by

P.O. Box 3209
Kirkland, WA 98083 206/487-3157.

Similar to the Rainbow, this vacuum also traps the dust and dirt in a receptacle of water. This instrument comes with variable suction. When the device is fitted with an aspirator (a tubular metal attachment), a conservator can vacuum in small crevices or around delicate areas. Attachments and a free catalog are available from

Quality Aspirators
P. O. Box 382120
Duncanville, TX 75116 800/858-2121

Although each vacuum serves a slightly different purpose, we rate Rainbow higher in overall quality and durability. Before using one of these vacuums, one should be alerted to the caution published in the AIC Newsletter, (16):2, March 1991, p.11. The Anthropology Conservation Lab at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, found that after vacuuming a group of ethnographic objects, the water in their vacuum became contaminated with arsenic and mercury and required special disposal as hazardous waste. An alternative vacuuming method, using a HEPA filter that trapped particulate matter as small as O.3 microns in diam. was selected for the project.

Catherine McLean
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Natural Hazards Observer

Natural Hazards Observer is a free bimonthly newsletter ($15 outside the U.S.) published by the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center. Aimed at a broad audience, it is an excellent source of information on disaster planning and response. It is especially useful for the frequent announcements of new publications.

From the Observer: "The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center exists to strengthen communications among researchers and the individuals, organizations, and agencies concerned with mitigating the effects of natural disasters.... The center is funded by the National Science Foundation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin., U.S. Geological Survey, Tenn. Valley Authority, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. EPA, National Inst. of Mental Health, and U.S. Soil Conservation Service." For a free subscription, write to

Natural Hazards Research and Applications Info. Center
Institute of Behavioral Science #6
University of Colorado
Campus Box 482 Boulder, CO 80309-0482


Chemicals in Small Quantities

Chem Service, Inc. offers over 11,000 laboratory chemicals, including analytical and reference standards, in gram-sized quantities. For a free catalog "Chemicals in Small Quantities," write to:

Chem Services, Inc.
West Chester, PA 19381


Chemicals Software

"Intend" is a multi-purpose computer program for people who work with chemicals. First it serves as a chemical database, storing information about vendors, and local storage locations as well as health-safety information, precautions, etc. Billed as a "laboratory bartender", it can be used to perform such calculations as solution concentrations: you tell it what you want to mix and what concentration you want to end up with--it determines a recipe for you. For those whose recipes are more exotic than my own, it will also factor in radioactive decay. GraphPad Software

10855 Sorrento Valley Rd
Suite 204B
San Diego, CA 92121
619/457-3909 (voice) 619/457-8141 (fax)


NSF Science and Technology Information System

For quite a while the National Science Foundation has been making available online a rather awe-inspiring amount of information on a wide range of scientific subjects. A large number of technical reports and other publications have been available to users on the Internet by ftp (anonymous file transfer). NSF has widened this service by offering a free search/retrieval system called the "Science and Technology Information System" (STIS), enabling both Internet and dial-in users to do rapid searches for scientific and technical documents. The retrieved texts can be transferred to your own machine (by ftp, email, or dial-in file transfer). STIS is available 24 hours/day and there are no charges. For more information, write

STIS National Science Found.
Office of Information Systems
1800 G. Street, N.W., Room 401
Washington, DC 20550
202/357-7555 (voice)
202/357-7745 (fax) stis@nsf.gov (email)


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