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Thursday, May 29 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Paintings Session) Unmaking Your Mark: An investigation into the removal of pencil from unprimed cotton canvas

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Pencil marks present a great challenge to removal when applied, purposefully or otherwise, to textiles such as unprimed cotton canvas. This problem is relevant to textile conservation as well as the conservation of contemporary paintings, where unprimed canvas is frequently left exposed, such as in the works of Morris Louis, Robert Goodnough, and Kenneth Noland. Errant, accidental marks and those applied intentionally as acts of vandalism are equally problematic. Pencils are generally comprised of low quality amorphous graphite, an electrically conductive semi-metal allotrope of carbon, pressed together with clay. When used to write, the powdered crystalline flakes of graphite break off; when this occurs on canvas, these powdery flakes become entrapped in the fiber and thread bundles, and are difficult to remove without compromising the structure of the fabric. Methods of safe removal were tested including laser ablation, mechanical removal methods, and reversed microemulsion cleaning agents including siloxane systems. The effectiveness of the method of removal was determined by visual results, the hand of the fabric, and microscopic examination to check for fiber damage and discoloration. Mechanical removal proved ineffective and impractical, and an appropriate microemulsion system could not be found that would not compromise both the aesthetic and the hand of the canvas. Successful results were only obtained with laser ablation at 532 nm; other wavelengths tested (266 nm, 355 nm, and 1064 nm) did not give satisfactory results. Ageing tests on the ablated canvas samples are forthcoming.


Samantha Skelton

Ph.D. Candidate, NACCA, University of Glasgow/TH Köln
Samantha is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Marie-Curie research and training network "New Approaches to the Conservation of Contemporary Art" (NACCA), coordinated by Maastricht University. She graduated in 2014 from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, specializing in paintings conservation. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina in 2011, with an Honors BA in Art History and minors in... Read More →


Bartosz Dajnowski

Manager, G.C. Laser Systems Inc.
Objects conservator Bartosz Dajnowski, MS, is a graduate of the Winterthur University of Delaware Masters Program in Art Conservation.  He has a BA in Art History and Economics from Northwestern University.   Bartosz is Vice Director of the Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio, Inc., and has been specializing in the use of laser ablation to clean works of art for over 10 years.  He has received extensive training... Read More →

Dr. Antoni Sarzyński

Researcher, Laser Applications Lab at the Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology
Dr. inż Antoni Sarzyński completed his studies of technical physics at the Military University of Technology in 1973.  In 1992 he defended his doctoral thesis (numerical modeling of propagation and strengthening laser radiation) at the Faculty of Physics Warsaw University of Technology.  He works at the Institute of Optoelectronics, MUT.  He is author and co-author of dozens of publications in the fields of plasma physics... Read More →

Dr. Jan Marczak

Director, Laser Applications Lab at the Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology
Dr. hab. inż. Jan Marczak (prof. MUT) completed his studies of technical physics at the Military University of Technology in 1973.  He achieved his doctoral habilitation in the field of surface engineering.  He specializes in laser technology and its applications in micro-technology and the conservation of cultural heritage.  He is the director of the Laser Applications Lab at the Institute of Optoelectronics, MUT.  His... Read More →

Richard C. Wolbers

Assistant Professor of Art Conservation, University of Delaware
Masters degree in fine arts from the University of California (San Diego, CA, USA) in 1977. Masters degree in art conservation from the University of Delaware (Newark, DE, USA) in 1984. Associate Professor of Art Conservation in the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). Involved in the preservation and conservation of paintings. Autho's address: Department of Art Conservation, 303 Old College, University of... Read More →

Tatiana Ausema

Conservator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Tatiana graduated from the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in Art Conservation in 2003 specializing in paintings and modern materials. Since then, she has worked at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden as conservator and researcher studying improved approaches to cleaning and protecting that museum’s renowned collection of Color Field paintings. This research has involved collaboration with... Read More →

Thursday May 29, 2014 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Bayview A-B