One of my favorite drawings from Dan’s portfolio is a quick India ink sketch he did titled The Egyptian. I received this drawing as a gift twenty years after Dan died. It arrived at my home via FedEx out of the blue with no immediate explanation. The sequence of events as to how all that came about is covered in the book. This is a treasured piece for me, and it needed and warranted conservation.
The drawing was framed poorly when I received it, but I wasn’t in a position to make any changes to it. It wasn’t until I unframed the art to have it photographed for the book that I realized what poor condition it was in. I contacted a local paper conservator named Susan Duhl to do the repairs. She very kindly agreed to perform the conservation in my studio so I could photograph her at work.
There are certain codes of ethics that apply with conservation–most notably that one does no harm, and whatever repairs are made must be reversible. There were a variety of issues happening to this drawing: creases, tears and a chemical interaction with the old mat-board originally used as a backing. In fact there was a ghost image of the drawing on the now discarded mat showing how the acids in the old board had interacted with the paper and the ink. The drawing is very, very fragile.
While it may look as if Susan is merely taping the drawing together, it’s much more than that. She used a heat-sensitive mending tissue that can be removed in the future if necessary. It’s also a tissue that does not discolor the paper.
The next step is to take the art to a trusted framer. To be continued…
For anyone in the Delaware Valley seeking the services of a professional paper conservator, I highly recommend Susan. She can be contacted at the following: