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Wednesday, May 31 • 2:55pm - 3:20pm
(Unique Objects/Unique Treatment) Reattaching without adhesive? Yes we can! The reactivation of paint on animation cels.

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Research is underway at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Walt Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) to investigate storage and treatment strategies for animation cels. Animation cels are transparent sheets of cellulose nitrate, cellulose diacetate, -triacetate or polyester that are inked on the front - which is the viewing side - and painted on the reverse. A condition survey of animation cels, selected from productions between 1937 and 1989 from the ARL collection, revealed that only a small percentage of cels show evidence of paint cracking, delamination or flaking. This paper will present recent innovations in paint reattachment, based on research findings, which rely on intrinsic hygroscopic properties of the cel paints. As described in lab notebooks, paint recipes and other documents in the Disney Archives, paints made at the Disney Ink & Paint Department between 1936 and 1986 were formulated with gum-based binding media. Surfactants and humectants were added to the paints to improve application to the plastic sheets and impart flexibility to the dried paints. Verification of the archival information was carried out using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) on a selection of cel paints, which also provided useful estimates of pigment-to-binder ratios and precise information about additive compositions. Time-lapse video of an experiment, placing a cel in an environmental chamber and fluctuating between 15 and 75 percent relative humidity (%RH), revealed the responsive behavior of the sheet and paint. Surprisingly, previous delaminated paint reattached in some areas at elevated RH levels. To investigate the causes of these phenomena and assess the relative hardness of paints as a function of RH, selective paints were studied using manually applied indentation on a micro-scale ranging from 30-85%RH. Interestingly, some colors became almost fluid above certain %RH levels, but regained their firmness as the RH was reduced. Analysis of these paints by a nano-indenter instrument is planned for comparing to the results of manual indentation. Time-lapse studies of cels undergoing temperature cycling will also be conducted for comparison. Based on these findings, the conservation approach aims to investigate the reactivation of hygroscopic additives in the paint media, thus minimizing the creation of a moisture barrier. A number of application techniques are explored that utilize humidity, solvents and combinations of both, with limits imposed by the solubility parameters of the paints and plastic sheets. Use of a specially constructed workstation based upon approaches for reverse-glass paintings conservation, where the object is elevated onto a glass plate and a mirror is placed underneath, permits simultaneously viewing and imaging the front and reverse of cels during tests and treatments. The use of humidity and solvents to treat flaking paint by reactivation is a balancing act that poses interesting practical and ethical issues. Can treatments cause permanent distortions in the plastic sheets? When can migration of additives in the paints and sheets occur? To what extent can paint be re-solubilized without changing its original characteristics? Responses to these issues will be discussed.

avatar for Katharina Hoeyng

Katharina Hoeyng

Katharina Höyng
Katharina Hoeyng recently moved to Amsterdam where she works as a freelance conservator. Prior to that Kathariana joined the Getty Conservation Institute from 2015-2018. As part of the Preservation of Plastics project, she researches and evaluates treatment methods for reattaching... Read More →

avatar for Vincent L. Beltran

Vincent L. Beltran

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Vincent Beltran joined GCI Science in 2002. He has been an active participant in a range of research projects including the mechanical characterization of historic materials, the effect of reduced oxygen environments on color change, evaluations of packing case performance during... Read More →
avatar for Carolyn Carta

Carolyn Carta

Research Lab Assistant, Getty Conservation Institute
Carolyn Carta joined the GCI in 2016 as a research lab assistant to lead scientific studies as part of the GCI's collaborative research project with the Disney Animation Research Library. She graduated in 2011 with a BA in art history, studio art, and chemistry from Trinity College... Read More →
avatar for Art Kaplan

Art Kaplan

Research Lab Associate, Getty Conservation Institute
Art Kaplan has spent a decade working on the application of analytical instrumentation to the identification and study of photographic processes and materials. His research focuses on the use of noninvasive and nondestructive techniques in the identification of photographic processes... Read More →
avatar for Joy Mazurek

Joy Mazurek

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Joy Mazurek specializes in the identification and characterization of natural and synthetic organic materials by a number of analytical techniques including gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and ion chromatography. She also works on the classification of biomarkers produced by... Read More →
avatar for Kristen McCormick

Kristen McCormick

Art Exhibitions and Conservation Manager, Walt Disney Animation Research Library
Kristen McCormick has been at the Walt Disney Company for over a decade and a half where she has been responsible for the safe keeping, care and transport of a broad range of artworks from African Art to Animation. In her current role she oversees the conservation care of the Walt... Read More →
avatar for Michael R. Schilling

Michael R. Schilling

Senior Scientist, Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Michael Schilling is head of Materials Characterization research at the Getty Conservation Institute, which focuses on development of analytical methods for studying classes of materials used by artists and conservators. He specializes in gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 2:55pm - 3:20pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower