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Wednesday, May 31 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Photographic Materials) A Pilot Project to treat photogravures on Gampi paper from Edward Curtis' 'The North American Indian'

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In 1907 Edward S. Curtis, with seed money from financier and collector J. Pierpont Morgan and support from President Theodore Roosevelt, began a herculean undertaking to publish "The North American Indian".  A tribute to the ‘vanishing race' this monumental project had as its goal the documentation of all major surviving Native American groups living in North America.  Each deluxe set included twenty bound volumes of Curtis' extensive text, illustrated with about seventy-five copper plate photogravures made from his photographs. In addition, each volume included twenty folios of larger gravures, only a small percentage of which were printed on Japanese gampi paper, the subject of this study. While most volumes of Curtis' monumental project are in various institutional hands, a photograph conservation studio received a rare set from a private collector in 2014 that would benefit from treatment to remove stains and distortions. The set comprised 722 copper plate photogravures printed in brown ink, each presented in a Van Gelder Zonen paper window mat, and tipped onto a one-ply backing embossed with the stamp Cranbrook Institute of Science. A pilot project began with an initial sample group of ten representative gravures, window mats and backings, selected with the goal of establishing a reproducible treatment protocol for the entire set of 722 prints, cost estimates for materials and labor, and a time schedule for conservation treatment and re-housing. This paper describes the challenge of finding a treatment that allowed for the washing and drying of these extremely thin and reactive gampi papers while retaining their characteristic smooth and lustrous texture. Past research on the treatment of gampi papers was reviewed and incorporated into the trials. Washing techniques tested included float washing, immersion washing, and light bleaching in variously-adjusted, deionized water solutions. Drying techniques tested included: friction drying between a variety of tissues and papers; drying between various materials such as ragboard, polyester (Mylar), cotton blotters, felts, and two types of fabric membranes - a polytetrafluorethylene film (Gore-tex), and a polyester/nonwoven material (Sympatex); and stretch drying the gampi tissue between lining papers, adhered at edges, to a smooth countertop. The trials produced a range of results - some very good, but none that completely achieved the desired drying results, i.e. returning the surface texture to its original appearance.  During testing, the authors consulted with several colleagues for suggestions on expanding and refining methodologies. The collaboration led to a satisfactory treatment method, a variation on a hard-soft drying package, which is described in this paper. Sustainability of materials was also considered in a final recommendation.

avatar for Rachel Danzing, [PA]

Rachel Danzing, [PA]

Conservator of Art on Paper, Rachel Danzing Art Conservation, LLC
Rachel Danzing is a paper conservator in private practice in New York City. After she received her MA in art history and diploma in conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 1992, Rachel worked in the conservation laboratory at the Brooklyn Museum for over... Read More →

avatar for Ann Baldwin

Ann Baldwin

Conservator of works of art on paper, Art Conservation Services of Greenwich
Ann Baldwin is a paper conservator in private practice in Greenwich, CT. She received an MA in art history and diploma in conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in 1998, studying with Margaret Holben Ellis. Ann trained with Antoinette Owen and Rachel Danzing... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 9:30am - 10:00am CDT
Michigan 1A-B Concourse Level, East Tower