Conservation Station

Sometimes a conservator receives a task that doesn’t require any adhesives or cleaning. This past week I found myself with a task that simply used my hands and mind. I received two heaps of Egyptian beads on strings that were such a tangled mess no one knew what they were. My job was to untangle them and make sure that they not end up in the same situation again.

One of the first things I noticed was that the thread and string that the beads were on was not an original textile. It appeared that when the beads were found they were strung on whatever threading was nearby. This meant I was working with Victorian string that was more sturdy than an Egyptian textile would have been. I slowly set about attempting to determine where the ends were so that I had a starting point and was intrigued to find…

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Unraveling the Past


What big teeth you have…

More Than A Dodo

Not many summer placements involve being face to face with a grey wolf. The latest intern getting her hands dirty in the Life Collections Conservation Lab is Kathryn Schronk, from the BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums at Cardiff University. Here she tells us a little bit about herself and what she’s been working on during her time at the Museum…

Desiring a bit of a respite from broken pottery and rusty metal, I came to the Museum of Natural History to gain some experience with different objects and materials: namely taxidermy. I mean, why not? The possibility of getting up close and personal with wild animals was tempting, and I wouldn’t get a limb gnawed off or an eye poked out either, as might be the case with live creatures. A win-win situation!

Kathryn airbrushing synthetic hair in the Conservation Lab

Natural history specimens were always off in…

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Iron gall ink in the Edward Thomas manuscripts and its conservation at Glamorgan Archives

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

The following post is courtesy of Pamela Murray, an MSc Conservation Practice Student at Cardiff University and conservation volunteer at Glamorgan Archives. She has been working on the Edward Thomas Conservation project as a student conservator thanks to the generous support of the National Manuscript Conservation Trust

Iron gall ink was a common writing ink throughout Europe, dating back to the 1st century AD and used all the way til the 19th century. Iron gall ink is made from tannins that have been extracted from galls (generally oak tree galls), iron sulphates, gum and water. There are different recipes and methods found throughout history, some even include using wine.

Iron Gall Ink recipe ET blog This is a recipe from the Dutch website dedicated to Iron Gall Ink:

So what’s the problem with this historic ink? The degradation process can be detrimental to the paper or work of art.

Excess iron…

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