J.CAC VOLUME 47 (2023)

Evaluating the Suitability of Two Sacrificial Anti-Graffiti Polysaccharide Coatings for Use on Outdoor Contemporary Murals

Laurence Gagné

This research investigates, through laboratory testing, the suitability of PSS 20 and APP S, two sacrificial polysaccharide-based anti-graffiti coatings, for the protection of outdoor contemporary murals. The properties of these coatings, as described by their manufacturers, are promising for conservation applications: easily reversible, clear, non-toxic, biodegradable and compatible with most surfaces, including painted ones. Primed and painted clay bricks and cement board surrogates were prepared and coated with PSS 20 and APP S. Some surrogates were left unaged while others were aged artificially for 9 and 29 hours. All surrogates were subsequently marked with spray paint or permanent felt marker. The efficacy of graffiti removal using pressure washing on aged and unaged coated surrogates as well as the impact on the painted substrates were evaluated using colorimetry and microscopy techniques. Both coatings showed promising results on the unaged and 9-hour aged surrogates in terms of ease of removal of graffiti and minimal alteration of the substrates’ colour. When artificially aged for 29 hours, the coatings were significantly less effective in protecting against graffiti. The coatings are easily reversible with warm water and moderate pressure with no or very little damage to the surface (depending on the texture) provided they are dampened with water and allowed to swell beforehand. Since this research was undertaken, PSS 20 has been used successfully in our private practice for the protection of outdoor sculpture and public art made of stone, metal and varnished wood. This experience has confirmed that a polysaccharide-based anti-graffiti coating can provide appropriate protection for heritage surfaces under threat of graffiti vandalism.

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J.CAC VOLUME 47 (2023)

Tear Repair of an Angelique Merasty Birch Bark Biting

Melissa Allen, Emy Kim, Megan Creamer

Birch bark biting has been a traditional practice amongst various North American Indigenous communities for generations. It involves delicately compressing marks with one’s teeth into thin, single-ply birch bark resulting in a symmetrical image. A birch bark biting by Cree artist Angelique Merasty (1924–1996) was brought to the artifact conservation laboratory at Queen’s University in 2021 due to a tear splitting the right third of the image. With no extant conservation literature on the structural repair of birch bark bitings, a treatment plan was created, informed by historical research on Merasty’s practice, general conservation studies of birch bark, imaging methods, microscopic analysis, and testing on fresh and aged birch bark samples. Drawing from techniques developed for tear repair in paintings, paper and textiles, tests of adhesives, carriers and application methods were performed to determine treatment options. Results were evaluated based on strength, workability, aesthetic impact, flexibility, potential risk and retreatability. The tear repair method chosen used hair silk threads coated in Lascaux 498 HV and applied with a heat set technique. These threads provided the necessary tensile strength to limit further tearing and loss, and minimal visibility to allow for potential display of both sides.

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J.CAC VOLUME 47 (2023)

Technical Note on Creating Silica Gel Cassettes In-house

Erika Range, Leslie Hutchinson

This technical note presents an illustrated, step-by-step process for making refillable silica gel cassettes from acrylic sheet offcuts and Reemay non-woven fabric. This technique was developed by conservators at Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation as a cost-effective and green alternative to buying commercially made cassettes. These reusable cassettes provide a more robust and efficient alternative to sewn sachets. Deploying the cassettes on edge maximizes surface area and air flow, and allows for an increased rate of response of the silica gel during changes in relative humidity. Ingenium conservators created standardized sizes for ease of deployment and have found these sturdier cassettes beneficial for travelling exhibitions.

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J.CAC VOLUME 47 (2023)

Book Reviews

Managing Collections Environments: Technical Notes and Guidance / Conservation of Books

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J.CAC VOLUME 46 (2021–22)

Extracting Isinglass from Fresh Air Bladders of Sustainable Canadian-sourced Wild Atlantic Sturgeon

Jennifer E. Cheney

The choice of sturgeon isinglass in conservation treatments may become more feasible if more economical and environmentally sustainable sources of the glue, of comparable quality to the traditional European sources, become available. This paper describes the processing of raw air bladders from New Brunswick wild Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus, into dried collagen, and the collagen into isinglass films, along with the resulting percentage yields at three extraction temperatures. Glue from this source has been used by the author since 2010 in a limited number of conservation treatments, including unstable paint consolidation and, in combination with wheat starch paste, for Heiber’s thread-by-thread tear repair method. If ongoing and future investigations continue to show that the isinglass from this and other species of sturgeon, obtained from more local, regulated fisheries, is of comparable quality to that from traditional sources, they may become the preferred sources for this valuable conservation material.

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J.CAC VOLUME 46 (2021–22)

Metamorphosis: Moving, Rehousing and Transforming Access to the Indigenous Studies Collection at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum

Victoria Kablys, Emilie Demers, Alicia Ghadban-Friesen

In 2019, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum undertook a storage reorganization project using the RE-ORG Method for its Indigenous Studies Collection. This collection was suboptimally housed in a storage room outfitted with inadequate and overcrowded storage furniture. Access was impeded by the physical storage configuration, object storage methods and gaps in collections management. A RE-ORG evaluation of the space, its storage furniture and small equipment, and the collection, its documentation system and administrative framework informed the planning and implementation of a storage reorganization, a comprehensive collection inventory and condition assessment, and overall resource management. Improvements were made to the physical storage configuration by replacing a large portion of the static open shelving with mobile shelving and by installing gridwalls and new cabinets, in addition to reusing some existing furniture. Storage mounts were designed and fabricated to improve collection preservation and ease of access, and in some cases, to aid in the temporary relocation process. This paper discusses the planning and implementation of this storage reorganization project, and details how collection preservation issues were addressed to facilitate both immediate and long-term access and use.

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J.CAC VOLUME 46 (2021–22)

Materials and Techniques of Louis Dulongpré: Six Religious Paintings from 1805 to 1823

Kate Helwig, Sophie Roberge, Debra Daly Hartin, Jennifer Poulin

Results of a technical study of six oil-on-canvas religious paintings by Louis Dulongpré are presented, supplementing previously published research on Dulongpré’s portraits. The earliest painting in the study is a signed and dated work from 1805, while the latest paintings studied are from c. 1823. Visual examination was followed by sampling and analysis using a multi-instrumental approach. Primary methods were scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and polarized light microscopy (PLM). In some cases, X-ray diffraction (XRD), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and/or pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were also undertaken. The technical data from these religious paintings, together with those from the previous study of Dulongpré’s portraits, can contribute to attribution research and inform future conservation treatments.

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J.CAC VOLUME 46 (2021–22)

Book Reviews

Conservation Concerns in Fashion Collections: Caring for Problematic Twentieth-Century Textiles, Apparel, and Accessories / Properties of Plastics – A Guide for Conservators / Contemporary Issues in Book and Paper Conservation

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J.CAC VOLUME 45 (2020)

Materials and Techniques of Louis Dulongpré: Selected Oil Portraits from 1800 to 1826

Kate Helwig, Debra Daly Hartin, Jennifer Poulin, Stephanie Barnes, Carl Bigras

Results of a technical study of twelve oil-on-canvas portraits by Louis Dulongpré are presented. Close visual examination was followed by technical photography and X-radiography. The composition and stratigraphy of the paint and ground layers were determined through the analysis of microscopic samples. Sample analysis was undertaken using a multi-instrumental approach. Primary methods were scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy, and polarized light microscopy (PLM). In some cases, X-ray diffraction (XRD), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and/or pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were also undertaken. The earliest work in the study is a signed and dated portrait of Isaac Todd from 1800, while the latest paintings studied are portraits of Joseph Papineau, Jean Dessaulles and Antoine Girouard, dating from circa 1825–1826. Overall trends in painting materials and techniques are discussed as well as some notable changes in materials over the chronological period covered by the study group. Connections among some of the paintings in the study group were made by combining information from visual examination with results from scientific analysis.

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J.CAC VOLUME 45 (2020)

Disinfection of Photographic Materials with Ethanol Vapours: Preliminary Evaluation of the Effects on Chromogenic Prints

Chloé Lucas, Greg Hill, Nancy E. Binnie

The biodeterioration of photographic collections by mould is a recurring problem. In 2017, Lucas et al. demonstrated that exposing photographs to 70:30 (v/v) ethanol-water vapours for two hours kills five of the most common fungal species found in photographic collections. The goal of this project was to evaluate any side effects of this treatment on chromogenic prints. Sixty non-mouldy historic photographs, grouped by decade from the 1940s through to the 2000s, were exposed in small chambers to the ethanol-water vapour treatment. Treatment effects were evaluated by a combination of spectrophotometric measurements and visual observations of colour, surface sheen and planarity. The measurements indicated colour change on a majority of the treated samples. The magnitude of colour change varied with sample date of production. Samples from the 1980s and 2000s exhibited the highest percentage of significant alteration by treatment (89%), with significant colorimetric change and, in most cases, colour changes visible to the eye (67%). Samples from earlier decades were less affected by the treatment both in the percentage of affected samples and in the magnitude of the colour change.

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J.CAC VOLUME 45 (2020)

A Survey of the Use of Cambridge White by Canadian Artists

Marie-Claude Corbeil, Eric J. Henderson, Susan Walker

Previous research at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) has demonstrated that Tom Thomson and artists from the Group of Seven made extensive use of a white pigment that consists of a mixture of lead sulfate (PbSO4) and zinc white (ZnO) combined in specific proportions: Cambridge Colours’ New Flake White or Cambridge white. Evidence of the use of Cambridge white by Canadian artist Kathleen Munn and archival research raised the question of its possible use by other Canadian artists. Therefore, a survey of the use of the pigment was undertaken on site at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) that focussed on paintings executed during the period from 1894, when Madderton & Co. first produced the paint, to 1943, the year the company was dissolved. The paintings surveyed were analyzed using two non-destructive techniques, namely, hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy in external reflection mode with a portable instrument. This article presents the results of the survey as well as a compilation of results obtained for other Canadian paintings dated to the period of interest which had been analyzed previously at the CCI. Through the evaluation of results obtained for 88 paintings by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven and 128 painting by other Canadian artists, it is clear that Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven remain the main users of Cambridge white identified so far. Although a relatively small number of other Canadian artists were surveyed in this study, results indicate that Cambridge white was used mainly in the Toronto area, where the paint was sold, and that most artists who used it were close to the Group of Seven.

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