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

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

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-[PA]

Associate Conservator, Associate Conservator
Samantha is a paintings conservation fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina in 2011, with an Honors BA in Art History and minors in Chemistry and Studio Art. She has previously... Read More →

avatar for Bartosz A. Dajnowski

Bartosz A. Dajnowski

Conservator, G.C. Laser Systems Inc.
Objects conservator Bartosz Dajnowski has an MS from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Masters Program in Art Conservation. He studied art, culture, and conservation at the Jagiellonian University in Poland, Studio Art Centers International in Florence, the Loyola Rome Center... 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... 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... 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... 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... Read More →

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