Paper Lab: Training 2001

Technology and Preservation of Paper Based Artifacts (Dianne van der Reyden)
Held March 21-23, 2001
Offered through the George Washington University, this course consisted of a three-afternoon survey of the materials, fabrication, deterioration and preservation of documents and artifacts made of paper.  Case studies, based on research of the Smithsonian's own collections, included manuscripts, drawings, paintings, prints, and photographs on paper, as well as globes, folding screens, papier mache, and much more.  The course was attended by 16 professionals ranging from collection managers, teachers, and librarians, to appraisers, artists and dealers.

Paper Lab Class

Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes and Tape Stains (Mary Studt, Dianne van der Reyden)
Held April 16-20, 2001 Instructors: Elissa O'Loughlin and Linda Stiber Morenus
Pressure-sensitive tapes, often used to repair tears and losses, may cause valuable documents and art work to be irreparably stained, embrittled and cockled.  The aged appearance of such tapes may completely obscure tonal variations and distort the appearance of soluble media.  However, removal of pressure-sensitive tapes can be a complex treatment that may pose risks to the health of both the worker and the object.  This 5-day course included both lecture and hands-on sessions using a range of treatment options for the removal of pressure-sensitive tapes and the reduction of tape stains.  During the practical sessions, a range of aged, mock documents were used to demonstrate and practice various techniques.  Though the course was primarily designed for practicing conservators, an introductory lecture included information relevant to the work of museum and archival staff who are not practicing paper conservators. 

The course included:

  • An introductory lecture about the history and technology of pressure sensitive tapes from 1928 to the present, including descriptions of both rubber-based and acrylic-based adhesives.  This lecture gave an overview of the problems associated with pressure-sensitive tape use.  The lecture was attended by conservators, archivists, collections managers, etc.

  • Identification of tapes, which included lecture sessions with diagnostic charts and practical sessions with a variety of samples.

  • Case histories of tape removal projects.

  • A review of treatment options employing heat, solvents, poultices, suction devices, etc.

  • Practical sessions on the treatment of a selection of naturally and artificially aged samples.

  • Experimental treatments on mock documents and expendable items.

Paper lab course   Paper lab course

Paper lab demonstration   Paper Lab demonstration

Paper lab course

History and Treatment of Works with Iron Gall Ink (Mary Studt, Dianne van der Reyden)
Held September 10-14, 2001
Instructors: Hans Neevel, Birgit Reissland, other speakers

This 3-day course (offered twice in one week for two separate groups of participants) focused on one of the most corrosive media problems found on documents and art works.  The 2-day workshop and 1 interim day of lectures covered, among many things

  •  the production of inks from historic recipes

  •  historic drawing and writing techniques

  •  identification, examination and classification of deterioration

  •  the execution of treatment options, including the use of calcium phytate solution. 

The interim day of lectures featured conservators' research into the history and treatment of works with iron gall ink. 

The course represents the first time iron gall ink has been the primary focus of an international gathering in the United States. For additional information on previous courses with these instructors and the general topic of iron gall ink corrosion, see

Iron Gall course lecture  Iron Gall course lecture

SCMRE's Archives Conservator, Mary Studt, opens the interim day of lectures, attended by 50 professionals from museums, libraries and archives world-wide.

Iron gall ink deterioration discussion and identification  Iron gall ink deterioration discussion and identification

Instructors Birgit Reissland and Hans Neevel discuss iron gall ink deterioration (on Smithsonian drawings by Native Americans) and identification to conservators, forensic scientists, and other affliliates from the US, Canada, Europe, and India.

Iron gall nut display   Ink making exercise

Dr. Neevel displays the iron gall nuts that will be added to the ink solution as monitored by Ms. Reissland.  The ink-making exercise simulates the original technology and demonstrates the inks' corrosive nature.  Understanding of the ink composition aids in the development of new conservation treatments.

How to crack the iron galls   How to crack the iron galls

SI Affiliate Intern Lauren Habenicht learns how to crack the iron galls, in preparation for adding to the ink solution.