There’s nothing quite like posting incorrect information in a web video to get people’s attention. No sooner had I posted the video on conserving the “green monster” than I heard from the usually-so-quiet conservators. I had misunderstood the use of a Japanese seaweed called funori. Time for this non-conservator to do some damage control in the area of information. Here’s how it really happened…
Conservator Shiho Sasaki experimented with a combination of funori and gelatin to create a consolident that could be painted onto the pigment, to hold the pigment in place. She had experimented with a range of materials, generally different types of seaweed with gelatin, and the winning combination turned out to be gelatin with a different kind of seaweed, imported from Germany. That’s what she’s using at the end of the video as she paints the consolident that starts out shiny and dries to matte.
The funori, however, was put to a different use. Shiho cooked it into a very weak glue that held the “band-aids” to the front of the painting (the tiny white strips seen in the video), holding paint pigment in place so that she could patch holes from the back side. This glue is so delicate that at the end of those three critical days of patching, the front-side “band-aids” — actually called “bridges” — just fell away without damaging the pigment.
Damage control is a big part of conservation. Check out how Conservator Mark Fenn replaces broken/lost portions of a piece of furniture, also part of the Emerald Cities show. It’s “kinda like your dentist”!
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