Common Questions


What is paper conservation?

Paper conservation includes mending physical damage, improving the chemical stability of the artwork, and ensuring that paper can be handled and appreciated safely.  Typical paper conservation treatments include removing tape, reducing stains, yellowness, and acidity, removing artworks from damaging mounts, and repairing holes and tears.  Paper conservators treat items such as watercolours, drawings, prints, maps, diplomas, letters, and other paper objects.  Paintings on wood or canvas should be brought to a painting conservator.


What will you do for my drawing?

Generally, clients come to conservators when they have a specific concern.  We will address your concerns first, but I will also let you know of any potential problems that should be dealt with sooner rather than later.  Examples of potential problems that should be resolved as soon as possible are sticky tape, which will stain over time, flaking paint or ink that will be lost if it is not readhered, and acidic mounts that will cause yellowing and brittleness.  It is always easier to prevent damage rather than repairing it, so I will help you to understand any potential risks.

For examples of paper conservation treatments, see the Treatments page.


How much will this cost?

The cost will depend on the hours needed to complete the treatment, which can vary greatly. Upon initial examination, I can provide a verbal estimate. If you wish to proceed with the suggested treatment, I would undertake a careful examination and testing.

Before any work is done, I will provide a proposal that outlines all treatment, the estimated hours, and the cost. Signing this proposal constitutes a binding contract for both parties.  If price is a concern, we can discuss which parts of the treatment are the most critical, and which could be deferred.


Is my drawing ok?

Not every object needs conservation, but I would need to examine it in person to be sure of this.  Consultations are free, and I would never recommend unnecessary treatment.  Even if your paper does not need professional conservation, there are steps that you can take to prevent future damage or deterioration, and I would be happy to give you advice on this.


Will my drawing need to be unframed?

Generally, yes.  Viewing the edges and back of a sheet of paper can reveal a great deal of information about the condition.  Also, the mounting methods and materials should be examined because this can be a major cause of deterioration.  Simple unframing can be part of a free consultation.  If the mounting needs to be altered, it can be left with me for remounting, or we will package it securely either in the original frame or in a temporary housing for you to bring to your framer.


Why do I need a conservator?

Reversing the damage from "home remedies" that well-meaning caretakers have applied to their art in the past is usually more difficult than repairing the original problem. Conservators have special tools, scientific knowledge, and highly developed hand skills. In addition, an ethical conservator will avoid any treatment that may improve the appearance in the short term, but ultimately destabilize the artwork. Owners have many ways to protect their artwork from future damage, but remedial conservation treatment should only be performed by a qualified professional.               610.543.2826               610.543.2826