The Conservation Center 
Conserving Art Coast to Coast
   November 2015 Newsletter
This month, our newsletter features three diverse stories. We had the pleasure of working with a client to preserve a cherished and deteriorating mantilla used by the family for generations.  The second, the CEO shares some thoughts on a recent presentation at the ARCS conference on disaster preparedness and response. While waxing and furniture maintenance might seem tedious, our furniture conservators have highlighted the importance of the "sacrificial" wax layer in keeping your pieces looking pristine.  Finally, we will explore the interesting history behind a very strange pigment, Mummy Brown. 
A Stitch in Time
When extraordinarily fragile pieces are treated by The Center, often the conservators recommend handling the pieces as little as possible to preserve their longevity.  So when Gloria Diaz brought in a delicate lace mantilla and expressed that she would like it to be functional for future ceremonies, we knew we had our work cut out for us.   At the time Gloria brought in her mantilla, it had been used by three generations in twenty-four weddings, ten baptisms, on "Taking of the Veil," and one First Communion.  Since the lace garment had been both well-loved and well-used, it exhibited inevitable signs of wear.  As Gloria noted, "I realized that the mantilla was near the end of its life if we did not do something to improve its condition. " 

A Note from Heather Becker, CEO
On November 13 th , I gave a presentation on disaster preparedness at the Association of Registrars and Collection Specialists (ARCS) conference in New Orleans.  The audience included nearly 700 museum registrars, collection managers, conservators, consultants, appraisers, and art shippers. 

Building on the Center's decade long experiences in coping with disparate events such as the LaSalle Bank fire  in 2004,  Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Floods in  Iowa in 2008, the  Floods in Nashville in 2010 ,  Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the ice storms of 2014  for example -- I spoke of the critical importance of creating a preparedness plan for internal protocols and fundamentals.  We have learned adaptability, established protocols, teamwork, and problem solving skills are pivotal to the outcome.  

Wax On, Wax Off
Are your furniture and wooden artifacts lacking the glow that they used to have?  The culprit is most likely an aged, worn, or damaged wax layer.  Wax coatings are applied on top of a finished piece of wood to act as a protective coating.  Without this layer, foreign particulates, such as dirt or soot, could accumulate and settle into the finish.  Old finishes are delicate and desirable and repeated cleaning of the original surface can damage the patina.  Particles and dust will inevitably settle on the surface of a piece and then become embedded in the sacrificial wax coat.  The wax coat can then be easily removed without damaging the original finish. 

Pigment of the Month: Mummy Brown
This month marks the beginning of The Conservation Center's new "Pigment of the Month" series. Our report on Mummy Brown is the first of several articles that will detail the origins, history, and eventual discontinuation of pigments that are no longer in use. Mummy Brown is aptly named because it is made out of actual mummies!

The Conservation Center looks forward to the opportunity to assist private individuals or institutions with fine art and heirloom preservation. We welcome any projects, large or small.


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