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Thursday, May 31 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Paintings) Evolon: Its Use from a Scientific and Practical Conservation Perspective

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In recent years, Evolon®CR, made of a highly absorbent polyester/ polyamide microfilament fabric, has started to be used by many conservators for the removal of varnish layers on paintings. Its potential for controlled solvent application and dramatic reduction of mechanical action is particularly appealing. Moreover, it is especially suited for large-scale paintings. Several case studies about the use of Evolon®CR have been published, but up until now as far as we know, no in-depth scientific study into the behavior of Evolon®CR with solvents for conservation applications has been carried out. In this presentation preliminary results of testing of Evolon®CR will be presented. Moreover, a novel procedure for loading Evolon®CR with solvent for varnish removal will be demonstrated and an illustration given of how physical and visual documentation of varnish removal from the used sheets provide much data for further research on the removed materials using MA-XRF or GCMS.
In order to understand how Evolon®CR holds up in solvents, solvent extractions were analysed with Py-GC/MS. No extractables could be determined, however, micro and possible nano-scale-fibers (polyamide (nylon-6) and polyester) were found. From preliminary results of diffusion tests using a mock-up it appears that a fully saturated 'Evolon tissue'  first releases  solvent into the painting after which it reabsorbs it, together with available extractable components in the varnish/ paint (free fatty acids). The rate and depth of diffusion is dependent on the solvent used. This result was shown to be similar??identical to varnish removal using cotton swabs, but has the benefit that no mechanical action is involved.
After extensive testing, conservators at Restauratieatelier Amsterdam, developed a simple, but highly effective system of loading the Evolon®CR with specific amounts of solvent. This ensures that only the amount of solvent needed to swell and remove the varnish layer(s) is administered to the painting and that every part of the painting receives exactly the same amount of solvent. After timed trials with small strips of Evolon®CR using varying solvents on various parts of a painting, the most effective solvent at the least concentration for the least amount of time can be determined. The varnish removal can proceed with larger sheets.
During varnish removal, the location of the sheets on a painting can be documented. After evaporation of the solvent, the sheets of Evolon®CR can be scanned at high resolution and stitched to form a mosaic of Evolon®CR corresponding to the painting. Remarkably, areas of thicker varnish, retouching and fine details, such as the crack pattern of the paint can be observed in the used sheets. In order to get a better understanding the used sheets were scanned with a Bruker macro-XRF scanner. These results, along with those of other tests will be presented.
It can be concluded, that although further research is warranted, the application of solvent using the above method and Evolon®CR  makes varnish removal more efficient and controlled in comparison with varnish removal with swabs. Moreover, the used sheets of Evolon®CR provide an invaluable record of the removed varnish and retouching.

avatar for Susan Smelt

Susan Smelt

Junior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Susan Smelt is a junior paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Amsterdam with an MA and Professional Doctorate in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings. During the two-year postinitial phase she worked at the Stichting Restauratie... Read More →

avatar for Robert Erdmann

Robert Erdmann

Senior Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
With the latest techniques in the field of computer vision, machine learning, image processing, materials science and visualization theory Erdmann works to preserve, understand and make accessible visual artistic heritage. He is currently a Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum. Also... Read More →
avatar for Henk van Keulen

Henk van Keulen

Specialist Conservation and Restoration, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
avatar for Katrien Keune

Katrien Keune

research scientist/associate professor, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam
Katrien Keune is research scientist at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands. She also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and contributes to the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS) at a scientific... Read More →
avatar for Kathrin Kirsch

Kathrin Kirsch

Conservator of paintings and modern artworks, Restauratieatelier Amsterdam
Kathrin completed her degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne in 2000, specializing in the restoration of paintings and sculpture. During her 5-year program, she completed a six-month internship at SKRA in 1997 (Stichting Kollektief Restauratieatelier Amsterdam) in... Read More →
avatar for Petria Noble

Petria Noble

Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
As Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum since 2014, Petria has expanded the department, laying more emphasis on research into the materials and techniques of artists' as well as those of conservation. Originally from Australia, Petria Noble carried out her post-graduate... Read More →
avatar for Andreas Siejek

Andreas Siejek

Painting Conservator, Restauratieatelier Amsterdam
Andreas Siejek is net als zijn collega Kathrin Kirsch afgestudeerd aan de University of Applied Sciences in Keulen als Diplom-restaurator voor schilderijen en geploychromeerde sculptuur. Andreas heeft jarenlange ervaring als zelfstandig restaurator. Hij werkte voor onder meer het... Read More →
avatar for Saskia Smulders

Saskia Smulders

Conservation Scientist, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Saskia Smulders - de Jong is a conservation scientist at the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands). After 7 years working as a biochemical and pathological laboratory analyst, Saskia Smulders - de Jong completed a Master's degree in Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Gwen Tauber

Gwen Tauber

Senior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Gwen Tauber has been a painting conservator in the Rijks Museum since 1990 and is primarily concerned with the treatment of paintings, their examination and treatment documentation. She works in the midst of an interdisciplinary team comprised of conservators, scientists and curators... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm MDT
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Paintings