Removing Staining From a Mezzotint

A client of mine from Texas recently mailed two damaged mezzotints by Sidney Wilson to my studio.  These two works of art on paper are family heirlooms of hers, and they were damaged when pipes burst in her home during the unprecedented winter storm a few months back.  Water from the burst pipes soaked into the artworks inside their frames, leaving unsightly stains and tidelines in each piece.

My job was to reduce the tidelines and staining as much as possible.  This was indeed a challenging task, in part because the artwork was created using a method called chin colle, which involves printing the image on a very thin, fragile piece of paper and then laminating that piece of paper to a second paper substrate.  

One of the dangers of treating a chin colle piece is that it is possible for the two paper layers to separate during a wet treatment.  I had to devise a method of treatment that would allow washing and stain reduction without introducing too much humidity.  

In the end, I settled on a method involving blotter washing, which is a very passive washing technique compared to immersion.  This method allowed for a controlled application of pH adjusted waters and stain reducing agents, which helped pull the staining & degradation products out of the artwork quite successfully.  

Following are some before & after photos for comparison:

It is always satisfying when a treatment goes particularly well, and I have to admit I am pretty pleased with these results.

If you have a work of art on paper that requires conservation treatment, feel free to submit an inquiry via the contact form on my website:

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