THE OHIO CONSERVATION CENTER: Few conservators have had the experience of working with the large, darkened and fragile pencil drawings by the 19th century Swiss itinerant artist Ferdinand A. Brader who traveled and drew through areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. And hence little information on the cautions to take, the best procedures, and also the discoveries about materials and techniques have been available.  This exhibition of many of the drawings by Ferdinand A. Brader provided an opportunity to begin to collect that information.

Seemingly, the only concerted effort at serious materials research until the current Brader exhibition (see “Catalog”), and any report on a treatment, was performed by Stephanie Porto in 2007, then a graduate student in the Art Conservation Department of the State University College of Buffalo, NY. Her unpublished research paper was a significant trove of information, titled: “The Analysis and Treatment of two Birdseye View Drawings by Ferdinand Brader.”

A number of Brader drawings went through various conservation treatments in preparation for this exhibition, treatments performed  by the Ohio paper conservators Gina McKay (McKay Lodge, Inc. of Oberlin) and Amy Crist (Crist Conservation of Cleveland).

During 2013 and through 2014 until near the opening of the exhibition, Senior paper conservator Gina McKay performed  full treatments on ten large scale drawings, some with colored pencil media and one severely torn sheet. More treatments of Brader drawings are scheduled with Gina after the exhibition closes.

The collection and exhibit of so many very darkened papers in one place made it clear to many of their owners that conservation was a necessity for the survival of the depictions of their family farmsteads and other views. And the exhibition curator, Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss made it part of her responsibility to fingerpoint  the needs and means of preservation for the art she organized.

The Canton Museum of Art made McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory an unofficial conservator for the exhibition. Gina met several times at our facilities with exhibition curator Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss to study drawings and discuss conservation and the artist’s materials; McKay Lodge conservators attended clinics and spoke with drawing owners; and advice was given for further informing the public.

Ferdinand a. Brader

Gina McKay meets with exhibition curator Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss (at right) over a Brader drawing at McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, while exhibition researcher and writer Della Clason Sperling examines an edge of the drawing.

Ferdinand a. Brader

A Brader drawing in an alkaline bath supported on a screen for deacidification and solubilization and removal of discolorations in the paper.

3.-Float-Washing-1415

All of the large drawing sheets just fit the stainless steel bath. In the background is a suspended bank of lamps that will be rolled over the drawing and suspended above it. After bathing, much of any residual dark molecules (chromophores) can be destroyed by breaking them down with prolonged exposure to high energy light, typically referred to by conservators as a “light bank treatment” – a treatment that has been proven over the past 34 years by professional practitioners and scientists to have no damaging effects on any components of the paper and most media except the dark chromophores, so long as the paper is in the correct pH bath. The potentially damaging treatments for paper discoloration by chemical bleaching of the past have been replaced by such “light bank” treatments.

Ferdinand a. Brader

Conservation assistant Dee Pipik caught in a moment during many days of work removing transparent tape and its residual adhesive from a “mended” piece of a severely torn Brader drawing.

Ferdinand a. Brader

The torn drawing ready for a humidification procedure to relax the paper so it can go safely, without stressful reaction, into supported float washing.

6.-Gina-Working-with-a-Ferdinand a. Brader

The work of alignment and adhering the fragments back into a whole drawing.

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The work of alignment and adhering the fragments back into a whole drawing.

8.-Lining-1

Paper conservator Gina McKay performing the lining of the mended torn drawing with hand made Japanese long-fiber paper and refined wheat starch paste. The mend are visible as white lines but these are actually extremely thin Japanese tissue paper adhered with refined wheat starch paste.

9.-Lining-2-

Paper conservator Gina McKay performing the lining of the mended torn drawing with hand made Japanese long-fiber paper and refined wheat stach paste. The mend are visible as white lines but these are actually extremely thin Japanese tissue paper adhered with refined wheat starch paste.

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