Background research

The first day of our second week was spent conducting background research on art conservation, storage, and handling. The sources we used today were books obtained from Rice’s Fondren Library.

Ting read Conserving Paintings: Basic Technical Information for Contemporary Artists, which covers processes ranging from how paintings are produced to how they are stored. This book also contained a photo and explanation of the device closest to what we intend to produce: a handling frame.

Emily read about the history of frames and their relationship to the artworks they surround in The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame. She learned about many of the woods that have been used to create frames from the Italian Renaissance to the present, as well as the different types of joint employed to assemble frames.

After looking over the information we found last week about materials, Quique’s main goal was to research the structural integrity of paintings. Given the absence of any useful information on the subject, he has determined that the best way to go about this research is to examine wood itself, for which there is data.

In the book Conservation and Exhibits, Hannah researched factors we must take into account regarding past and potential damage to paintings, which one of our main concerns in designing frames. She found a series of disaster scenarios resulting from negligence and human error, as well as the parameters of condition reports (damage, insecurity, and deformation), which should be on file for each piece and help us evaluate its individual needs.

We are all looking forward to going behind the scenes at the MFAH tomorrow!

Learning how to tie shoes

Today, we started out with an exercise to practice our communication skills. We split into partners, and sat with our backs to each other. We took turns being the leader and the follower. The follower held an untied shoe in his/her hands, and the leader would give details directions as to how to tie the shoe. The follower was not allowed to do any action that the leader did not tell him/her to do. From this exercise, we realized how difficult an everyday action can be when you try to put it into just words. A common mistake was the leader assuming the follower would perform certain actions without being told, such as pulling the shoelaces taut. We also noticed how the followers learned from the leaders mistakes, and added in the details when it was their turn to be the leaders. This exercise reminded us of how important little details can be and how we can always learn from each other.

The rest of the day was just spent in doing background research on our project. First, we discussed all the topics we needed to learn about, ranging from current technologies and materials (both in art and storage) to history of art conservation. Then we divided up the work and flipped through both books and websites, occasionally checking up on each other and discussing what we’ve found. Our conclusion: there is currently nothing that does what we want to achieve, but we can look at travel frames/cases and art storage to gain an idea of the sort of design we want to combine both aspects of preventive conservation. All in all, it was a rewarding day.