Conservation: Conservation is a term used in art restoration and conservation, and custom picture framing. Conservation is these instances is another word for preservation. The concept behind conservation is to do no harm, to maintain the original condition of artworks by utilizing materials that are non-corrosive and are reversible. Quality materials and reversibility are key.
Paper artworks are most commonly damaged by poor framing practices. These artworks should be framed with products that are 100% cotton. There are many options available on the market for mat boards that state they are acid free. Mat boards that are not cotton are derived from wood pulps. Wood pulps contain lignin which is highly acidic. When exposed to heat and light, the acid content of these boards migrates into the artwork causing staining and brittleness. While some of these boards, such as alpha cellulose have been purified, for valuable artworks I would suggest cotton matting and backing boards only. These will be prominently marked on the back of the sample with the symbol for cotton. While cotton boards cost more, they will save you hundreds of dollars later in conservation efforts. Make sure to also use a glass or plexi-glass with a UV filter. There are products on the market today that filter 99% of the UV damaging light.
Long Wave Ultra Violet Light Inspection: All artworks will be examined prior to treatment under UV Light. Under ultra violet light previous restorations, alterations, hidden damage and forged signatures will be visible.
Cleaning: Cleaning is the method used to remove environmental pollutants and soils from painted surfaces. These soils can be comprised of soluble, solvent soluble and non- soluble soils. While some surface soils can be removed using water based cleaners, these types of cleaners have damaged many valuable paintings. Water cleanings shrink the support and can promote fungus growth. When the support is damaged, over time cracking, and other distortions may follow.
Skinning: Skinning is a term used to describe a painting that has been over cleaned. The result is the removal of some of the paint and in the worst cases, all of the original paint in certain areas. A heavy hand with improper solvents can destroy the painting. The colors of great susceptibility are dark reds, dark greens, and dark browns.
Varnishing: Varnishing is the top layer that seals the artwork. It is the thin resin over the top of the panting that typically has a gloss finish. Much like glass over paper artworks, varnish keeps soils away from the paint. Contemporary varnishes can also protect from fading caused by UV light exposure. While some artists prefer the softer look of an un-varnished painting, the works of art are then more susceptible. Cleaning an unvarnished painting is more time consuming and there are higher risks for damage.
Patching: Patching is a treatment used when a painting has a tear or puncture. A small patched is placed on the back of the original canvas and then the front is repaired. When multiple tears or punctures are present or large in size, lining is the preferred treatment method. A single patch or multiple patches can create uneven tension to the surface of the original, becoming visible to the front of the canvas over time.
Lining: Lining is the treatment used when a canvas support is damaged, consolidation is necessary, or the painting has multiple tears, and punctures. Lining is when a new piece of canvas is adhered to the back of the old one. Older processes utilized a wax compound. I use the Gustave Berger method, which is a reversible polyvinyl resin called BEVA 371.
Consolidation: Consolidation is a method to re-adhere loose areas of paint to the canvas. Consolidation is done with a syringe, and injected into areas where the paint is compromised. It is necessary in some cases to also line the entire canvas. The lining compound penetrates into the back of the original canvas to the back of the paint. Through the process of adhesion, the loosened paint is re-adhered.
Filling: Filling is when there are losses to the original paint. The indention left from the paint loss is filled with a special compound to imitate the original surface.
In-painting: In-painting is the term used for touch up to damaged areas of the painting. These damages can be the result of losses, dents, tears, or abrasions. It can also be necessary for a painting that has been skinned. It is important to use retouch paint that is reversible, such as MSA Acrylics that are removable with mineral spirits.