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Past Triennial Conferences - Abstracts 

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1996, 11th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Edinburgh (1-6 September 1996)

WG B10. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects, vol.II, pp.735-766
Coordinator: Pieter B. Hallebeek (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam)
Assistant co: Marion Kite (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) 

Gloves (pp.735-741)
Abstract: This paper is in two parts and is concerned with gloves. The first part will discuss the principles relating to their care, storage and display and the principles of a treatment strategy. The second part is concerned particularly with gloves of the 17th century and how a better understanding of them in their historic context and an understanding of the society of the day gives a greater understanding to them as objects. A full conservation case history of a rare and important pair of 17th century ribbon trimmed gloves is included in this part.

R. Larsen, C. Chahine, J. Wouters, C. Calnan (742-750)
Vegetable tanned leather: evaluation of the protective effect of aluminium alkoxide treatment (pp.742-750)
Abstract: In 1989 aluminium alkoxide compounds were recommended as a stabilising agents for deteriorated vegetable tanned leathers. Tests have shown that these compounds increase the physical stability, the shrinkage temperature and the pH of the leathers. An increase in knowledge about the mechanisms of breakdown, as well as an informative analytical programme and new methods of artificial aging, have made it possible to test the protective effect of the aluminium alkoxide compounds. New leathers and leathers treated with aluminium alkoxide in 1985 (tanned with mimosa and sumac), artificially aged and unaged, have been analysed. The results of the analysis show that the tested aluminium alkoxides do increase the thermophysical stability and raise the pH. However some of the results show that the treated leathers will deteriorated with time to the same level as the untreated. More tests and analysis are needed to give more qualified and conclusive judgement on the long term protective effect of the aluminium alkoxide treatment. 

M. Nimmo, M. Paris, L. Rissotto, F. Bonetti, P. Cappa
Tensioning gilded and painted leather (pp.751-758)
Abstract: Experiments were performed in order to learn more about the mechanical behaviour of antique gilded and painted leather and to identify the best conditions for it tensioning. The resistance of leather-adhesive-fabric bonds was also evaluated for the application of a strip lining to attach the artefact to the tensioning system. Based on the results obtained, an experimental, innovative tensioning structure was developed and applied to an 18th century altar frontal of gilded and painted leather, used as a reference model. The structure’s elastic tensioning system permits the artefacts to expand and contract both horizontally and vertically, while remaining flat.

D. De Reyer, S. Pilbout, N. Dennebouy, M. Monnerot
L’AND ancien. Outil de diagnostic dans le domaine des biens culturels (pp.759-766)
Abstract: Les objets conservés au sein des collections du patrimoine culturel sont constitués par un infinité de matériaux dont un grand nombre sont d’origine biologique. Les récentes avancées technologique de la biologie moléculaire offrent the nouvelles perspectives pour appréhender l’étude des matériaux biologiques du passé transformés par l’homme. La technique d’amplification de l’ADN par la réaction de polymérisation en chaine (PCR), est un outil moléculaire qui permet d’aborder la reconnaissance des espèces animales par un approche d’ordre génétique à partir de très faible quantités de matériel. Le travail présente: la la mise en place d’un outil moléculaire qui permet d’identifier de manier spécifique le mouton, le bœuf, la chèvre et le porc (la gène de l’acide ribonucléique (ARN) de la grand sous-unité du ribosome L-rRNA de l’ADN mithocondrial est utilisé comme gène marqueur; l’application de cet outil pour identifier l’espèce animale de matériaux biologique transformés par l’homme: la baudruche, la parchemin et les cuir. L’application de la technique sur du matériel biologique traité par l’homme soulève des problèmes technique qui sont du meme ordre que ceux rencontrés sur l’ADN ancien.


1990, 9th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Dresden (26-31 August 1990)

WG 18. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects, vol.II, pp.611-631.
Coordinator: Todor Stambolov (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam). 

M.C. Berardi, M. Nimmo, M. Paris
The seventeenth century flock-leather wall hangings of the Chigi chapel in Ariccia: a case study (pp. 611-615)
Abstract: The wall hanging and its state of conservation are described: still in the place for which it was conceived, the hanging is complete and in reasonable condition. Given the lack of information on flock leather, references were collected on the history and technique of this unusual type of artefact, of which only rare examples remain. Archival documents were also found, which permitted the dating of the installation of the hanging. The results of the first investigations on the constituent materials are given.  

M. Kite
A 1740’s horse hair hat, a busby c1827, and a fur-lined cape c1936 (pp. 616-621)
Abstract: This paper describes the conservation of three related objects which were made to come within the discipline of ‘textile conservation’ for treatment. This is essentially a practical paper and the intention is to describe some ‘skin’-related objects which may not come within the scope of leather conservators generally: to discuss the problems these posed and to describe in detail how these problems were solved using technique and treatments which were drawn from several conservation disciplines. 

H.A.B van Soest
Sulphurous substances in the tanning of leather with vegetable tannins (pp. 622-625)
Abstract: There is a striking difference between the traditional way of leather tanning and the modern leather tanning, in that the modern tanners use chemicals like sodium sulphate, sodyum sulphydrate and sulphuric acid. Before 1990 these chemicals were not used in tanneries. The influence of these chemicals on the deterioration of vegetable tanned leather made before and after 1900, is explained with respect to a goatskin article tanned in about 1800 in Sudan, and since 1825 included in the collection of the National Ethnographic Museum in Leiden.

G.S. Young
Microscopical hydrothermal stability measurements of skins and semi-tanned leather (pp.626-631)
Abstract: Shrinkage temperature (Ts) measurements of collagen hydrothermal stability provid information on the deterioration of skin and semi-tanned leather, on temporary and irreversible effects of conservation treatments and on the effects of storage and display environments. Microscopical methods for measuring the Ts require only minute samples of collagen fibres. This permits the use of such methods for characterizing and monitoring museum artefacts. Basic equipment requirements include a controllable heating element and the means with which to examine fibres al 5 to 100 times magnification as they are heated. A polarizing microscope with hot stage is recommended to achieve high precision in the measurements. Preliminary results support a broad usage of the technique. Shrinkage temperature values for archaeological and ethnographic artefacts occur over a greater than 30°C range below normal values, indicating that varying amounts of deterioration are distinguishable. A lowered Ts for fibres in the presence of some conservation materials that swell collagen reversibly indicates molecular and fibrillar destabilization which could raise the potential for deterioration.


1987, 8th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Sidney (6-11 September 1987)

WG 18. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects, vol.II, pp.937-946.
Coordinator: Todor Stambolov (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam)
Triennial Overview (p.397)

C.Chahine, L.-B. Vilmont
Nettoyage des cuirs archeologiques gorges d’eau (pp.939-944)
Abstract: Quand on est en présence de cuir archéologique, il s’agit le plus souvent de cuir gorgé d’eau, ayant séjourné sous terre et recouvert de nombreuses souillures. Le nettoyage a pour but d’éliminer les résidus de terre, les particules métalliques (fer principalement) et les concrétions calcaires. Si les premiers ne résistent pas à un lavage avec une solution détergente, les impuretés mètallique et calcaires nécessitent l’intervention de traitements chimiques. Un étude portant sur l’efficacité e l’innocuitéde différentes substances proposées pour le nettoyage des cuirs archéologiques a été entreprise afin de déterminer les methodes les plus appropriées.Nous avons ainsi retenu un surfactif non ionique et un ampholyte pour le nettoyage superficiel et le citrate d’ammonium pour la complexation du fer.

S. Sanders
Effects of CO2 fumigation on pH (pp.945-946)
Abstract: Agricultural scientists have been exploring containment in CO2 as a potentially safe method of fumigation; but there have been no published tests up to now on the effects of CO2 on museum objects. This experiment tests the risk of pH changes in organic materials. Containment in CO2 for three days had no effect on the pH of the four materials tested.


1984, 7th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Copenhagen (10-14 September 1984)

WG 18. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects
Coordinator: Todor Stambolov (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam)
An overview on activities (84.18.1)

Mass reconservation of archaeological leather: a case study (84/18/2-5)
Abstract: The contamination due to extensive fungal growth of an excess of 10,000 items of previously-conserved archaeological leather initiated a research project to investigate, evaluate, and compare methods of re-conservation. Previous conservation mediums were based on British Museum Leather Dressing or lanolin. Solvent extraction of the old mediums with petroleum spirit 60° to 80°C, white spirit, and Genklene (stabilised 1,1,1-trichloroethane) were examined. Impregnation of Genklene-extracted leather with polyethyleneglycol (PEG) 400, glycerol, sorbitol, and PEG/glycerol combinations in ethanol were investigated. The quantity of finds requiring treatment imposed restrictions on the method of treatment selected as well as its execution. The affected leather was mechanically cleaned, extracted with Genklene, and impregnated with 10%/10% PEG/glycerol v/v/v in ethanol. The treatment was carried out on a large scale with consistent and acceptable results which continue to be monitored on a periodic basis.

T. Raphael, E. Mc Crady
Leather Dressing: a misguided tradition? (84/18/6-8)
Abstract: It is evident that the dressing of leather objects of all kinds is a popular and well -established tradition, yet there is a fair amount of experimental and practical evidence that it has little or no effect on leather’s rate of deterioration (except for outdoors where water protection is necessary). It can be argued that the routine dressing of leather is hard to justify in terms of conservation principle because 1) it has little or no preventive effect when applied in the customary indiscriminate manner, and 2)there are so many potentially dangerous side effects. As a whole, leather conservation has not kept pace with the advances made in other conservation areas. Conservators working on leather objects must develop procedures which can be justified in conservation terms and treatments that are based both on relevant research and experience.

W. Schmitzer
Restoration of Chinese and Indonesian shadow puppets (84/18/9-13)
Abstract: Warn off parchment parts of which the puppets are replaced by patches of new parchment, but of the same thickness as the original. Parcment used for the rrestoration of Chinese puppets, is dyed on either side with dyestuff because these puppets are and should remain transparent. The binding medium for these dyes is an alcoholic liquid of egg white, ox gall and sugar. Damaged Indonesian puppets, which are, as a rule, coated with tempera paint and therefore impervious, are restore by fixing the cracked paint layer with diluted egg white followed by burnishing with a hot spatula. On the other hand crumbling paint is sprayed with diluted starch size and pressed flat.

M. Segal, M. MacDonald
Current research into the conservation of frozen skins from the Artic (84/18/14-15)
Abstract: Recent archaeological work in the Canadian Arctic resulted in the excavation of skin artefacts and created the need for a conservation process to treat skins that are frozen, distorted and contaminated with natural fats and minerals. A research group consisting of conservators and scientists was formed at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) to develop appropriate methods of studying the skins and of cleaning and stabilizing them. This paper gives an overview of how the problem is being approached, what is presently being done, and what we hope to achieve. The intention is not primarily to report results, but rather to report the approach, procedures, some preliminary results, to make others aware of what is being done; and to solicit comment and input.

K. Starling
The freeze-drying of leather pretreated with glycerol (84/18/16-18)
Abstract: In recent years a large quantity of leather has been excavated at a number of sites in London. In 1983 alone over 1000 objects were treated by the Conservation Department of the Museum of London. This has provided ample opportunity to develop methods for the treatment of leather in bulk without compromising standards. This paper describes the procedures now employed. In addition the opportunity has been taken to review some aspects of freeze-drying treatments carried out 3-4 years ago and previously published (1) and to report on further investigations into the effects of glycerol as a plasticising agent.

H.A.B van Soest, P. Hallebeek
Chemical solutions of problems encountered in the conservation of old leather (84/18/19-21) 
Abstract: The traditional practice to procure old leather with buffers for the purpose of protecting it against further attack issuing from acidic sources is critically examined and wherever necessary revised. History-cases are discussed and used as a means to illustrate the author’s point, that buffering is, at best, a conservation measure of relatively short duration.

S. G. Sturman
Sorbitol treatment of leather and skin: a preliminary report (84/18/22-25)Abstract: To prepare dried and crushed Eskimo artefacts for exhibition, treatments were tested that would permit softening and reshaping while maintaining an aesthetic appearance. Due to dependence of leather stability on moisture content, humectants were choice systems for testing. Sorbitol and glycerol have been characterized in conditions of high relative humidity. From experimental data, sorbitol was shown to have greater moisture regulating properties than glycerol. Two case studies are also described. 

E. Valk-Falk
Conservation of archaeological leather (on the basis of archaeological data obtained in Tartu and in Tallin in 1981-1982 (84/18/26-28)
Abstract: The leather articles found during archaeological excavations in Tartu and in Tallinn in 1981-1982 are of great historical importance. They add considerable information to our knowledge in the handicraft of the 11th-14th centuries in Estonia, and as well in the character of trade relations with other towns of the Hanseatic League. Conservation of archaeological leather article finds includes their simultaneous measuring, photographing and making the technical drawings. The articles should also be examined from the point of view of history of art, i.e. their production methods, ornamenting and material should be determined. Complex researches in the leather article finds help to date the finds and to avoid mistakes in conservation (deformation etc.). For conserving leather article finds the method by B. Muhlethaler, i.e. conservation by the means of polyethylenglycol has been applied. The results of the work are the following ones: conservation of leather details, attribution of articles and suggestions for reconstruction.

J. Wouter
A comparative investigation of methods for the consolidation of wet archaeological leather. Application of a PEG-impregnation to a shoe from the 13th century (84/18/29-32)
Abstract: Different methods for the impregnation of wet archaeological leather were compared. These methods, already described by different authors, were compared with new-ones, involving impregnation with water-soluble silicon monomers mixed with a plasticizer, followed by in-situ polymerization. The best results were clearly obtained trough impregnation with PEG 400 and with a mixture of Polyviol and glycerine. We preferred the former for its lower hygroscopicity. This o a shoe from the 13th methodology was applied to a shoe from the 13th century. The shoe was impregnated for 7 weeks in 50% PEG 400, freeze-dried for 24th and conditioned at 55% relative humidity and 21°C for several weeks: the water-uptake was 18% of its weight after lyophilization. The leather was supple and its colour turned from black, before treatment, to deep brown. Impregnation with silicon monomers might be fruitful for the treatment of very deteriorated leather; a plasticizer must be added to introduce enough suppleness into the three-dimensional silicon polymer. 


1981, 6th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Ottawa 

WG 19. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects
Coordinator: Todor Stambolov (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam).

 E. Valk-Falk
The principles of restoration of unique bindings (81/19/1).

K.F. Nikitina
Conservation of archaeological leather in the State Hermitage Museum (81/19/2)
Abstract: The paper is based on the experience of leather conservation in the Laboratory for restoration of archaeological findings made of organic materials. Some methods of the evaluation of the preservation conditions of dry and wet archaeological leather, the classification of the leather according to the degree of its deterioration as well as the technique of conservation and restoration of leather objects are given.

L.I. Veronina, O.N. Nazarova, U.P. Petushkova, N.L. Rebrikova
Damage of parchment and leather caused by microbes (81/19/3)
Abstract: Owing to a number of their peculiar properties (the presences of combination of various organic and mineral substances, high hygroscopicity), leather and parchment are damaged by microorganisms easily enough. Damage of these materials, caused by microbes often takes place also under the conditions of their storage in museums. In spite of this the problem dealing with microorganisms growing on leather and parchment has been scantily explored. The aim of this paper is the study of microorganism damaging leather and parchment, the investigation of influence exerted on their growth by the environment, and finding methods of disinfecting the damaged parchment.

P. Hallebeek and H.A.B van Soest
Conservation of caskets and furniture covered with leather (81/19/4)
Abstract: Moisture and oil contents in vegetable tanned leather are discussed. The determination of this balance and the correction of a disturbed balance are explained. Cleaning formulations and proper dressings for leather are proposed. 


1978, 5th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting, Zagreb

WG 19. Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects
Coordinator: Todor Stambolov (Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam).

Z. Szalay
Conservation of leather objects in Hungary (78/19/1)

P. Hallebeek and H.A.B van Soest
Gilded leather (78/19/2)
Abstract: Concise history of the gilded leather industry. Spreading of the use of gilded leather as a wall-hanging from North Africa via Spain to the Northern and Southern Netherlands. Restoration and conservation of gilded leather, a chapter in which the restoration methodology, the restoration materials and the working methods, as applied by us, are discussed. Impregnation of gilded leather by means of epoxy resin. Applied scientifical research in connection with gilded leather.

K.F. Nikitina
Conservation and restoration of fur clothes from the burial place Oglakhty (the Khakass autonomous region), the turn of the first century A.D. (78/19/3)
Abstract: Methods of conservation and restoration of partly deteriorated ancient fur clothes found in dry birch bark burial place Oglakhty are described. The work was carried out in the following order: glueing of the fur, lining of the torn and crumbling edges of the skin tissue, consolidation and fattening of the derm and filling up the losses. Water dispersion of vinyl acetate and 2-ethyl hexil acrylate copolymer was used for impregnation, glueing and relining.

D.R.W. Tilbrook
Removal of iron contaminants from wet leather using complexing agents in dipolar aprotic solvents (78/19/4)
Abstract: Samples of waterlogged leather from the Batavia were analysed by X-Ray diffraction and electron microprobe and shown to contain iron, sulphur and oxygen as the major contaminating elements in the form of γ -FeO(OH) and FeS (possibly as pyrrhotite). Hydrolysis experiments under controlled conditions showed that break-down of such leather depends on the environments while under water and particularly on the stability of that environment. Attempts to remove all the iron as the thiocyanate complex in dipolar aprotic solvent systems were only partially successful because of dimensional changes produced by the treatment, however, a combined treatment could be possible where all the iron is removed and stability maintained by elimination of rehumidification steps and making use of dipolar aprotic solvent systems throughout.

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