Stephanie Porto, Owner and Paper Conservator at Niagara Art Conservation, presented an engaging talk on the conservation of maps depicting the rapid growth of Buffalo, New York from 1805 to 1909, which were exhibited in “You Are Here: Buffalo on the Map.” Stephanie’s talk perfectly balanced the technical treatment aspects with contextual information on the maps themselves.
Stephanie outlined the history and interesting facts of each map requiring conservation treatment. From the 1833 map, which detailed the area one year after Buffalo had been incorporated as a city, to the 1847 map which demonstrated the increase in commerce on the lake, and the 1893 Christian Homestead Association map, which included the salacious representation of 75 houses of ill fame.
Their conservation treatment needed to be completed in a limited timeline, and while six out of eight of the maps required linings due to poor quality paper, Stephanie found that traditional wet paste lining was not going to be possible in most cases. She included some great references that she had consulted on dry lining techniques:
Sheesley, Samantha. 2011. “Practical Applications of Lascaux Acrylic Dispersions in Paper Conservation”. The Book and Paper Group Annual 30: 79-81.
Jamison, Jamye. 2013. “Tip: Lascaux Linings in the Treatment of Park Plans for the Cleveland Public Library”. The Book and Paper Group Annual 32: 82-83.
Stephanie’s lining mock ups initially had an issue with sheen and planarity, but she was able to solve both problems using cellulose powder and a combination of Lascaux 303 HV and 498 HV. She outlined the specs of each adhesive, noting their difference in sealing temperatures (498 HV is higher) and final film elastic description (498 HV is hard and 303 HV is tacky). Stephanie described her preparation of the lining paper, beginning with rolling a 2:1 Lascaux 498 HV and 303 HV mixture onto silicone release Mylar with a brayer, allowing to dry, and ironing the dried adhesive film onto the lining paper, and using a printmaking baren to apply pressure after the film and paper were cooled. The map was placed recto up and the prepared lining paper was aligned underneath, the sandwich was flipped and smoothed by hand, then ironed from the center out. After being cooled, the lined map was pressed between Tycore panels. She then discussed the specific treatments of particular maps requiring linings.
The 1850 map depicting an 1805 Buffalo rendered in ink on watercolor paper required the removal of pressure sensitive tape, suction washing and cleaning, dry lining, and overall stretch-mounting.
The 1888 relief printed map could not withstand a backing removal, and so the treatment went forward with consolidation of delaminated paper with wheat starch paste set with a tacking iron, and a dry lining was applied with the original textile backing still in place.
The 1909 relief printed map was heavily water-damaged and retained evidence of previous conservation intervention. The map was consolidated with methyl cellulose, and was lined overall with the backing still in place with a Beva 371 film, and stretch mounted onto a foam board.
The 1893 color lithograph map required the removal of pressure sensitive tape, a temporary facing of 4% w/v Klucel G in ethanol during the backing removal, and a dry lining.
The 1833 hand colored lithograph was in the poorest condition with many detached fragments and a varnish layer. After the varnish was removed with ethanol, and the same temporary facing was applied, the backing was removed dry and the verso was then sanded to remove the adhesive residue. After lining with the Japanese tissue Okowara, the backing paper itself was hand toned with acrylics to integrate losses.
All the temporary facings were removed and loss compensation was completed by pouncing the Japanese tissue with cellulose powder and dry pigments. Finally, we got to see an excellent use of old chemistry textbooks in the pressing and flattening of the maps!