CHIPS, the Cultural Heritage Information Preservation Society at the School of Information, University of Texas at Austin, has been hosting an impressive line-up of events for National Preservation Week. (Click the link to see the full schedule.)

Karen Pavelka shows before and after treatment photos of a James Riely Gordon watercolor

Yesterday, I enjoyed attending a treatment demonstration by Karen Pavelka, paper conservator and iSchool lecturer.  Karen showed us a gorgeous James Reily Gordon watercolor which she had recently treated.  She had washed the watercolor (yes! you can wash watercolors!  Or, more accurately, trained professionals can sometimes wash watercolors, under the right circumstances) to reduce staining in the image area.  Karen had also removed fragments of acidic window mat that had been adhered to the front outer edges of the painting.

Karen Pavelka demonstrates the use of an elephant trunk for working with solvents

We also saw a demonstration of some of the tools of the paper conservation trade — an elephant trunk hood for working with solvents, a suction table, and various types of humidity chambers. Karen illustrated the Beilstein Flame Test for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic, which involved holding a copper wire with a tiny sample of plastic on its end in an open flame.  A bright green flame indicates the presence of chlorine, a positive test result for PVC.

Karen Pavelka demonstrates washing on the suction table

Karen’s demonstration provided a fun peek into the conservation lab for iSchool students, and for a few of us conservators who were in attendance as well.

Props to Lorrie Dong, Katie Pierce and the rest of CHIPS for pulling together some great programming!

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