UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

A graduate conservation training program focusing on the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials

Project News: A comparison of block lifting materials and techniques

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For the course “Science of Conservation Materials and Methods” offered in the Winter quarter of the 1st year, 3 students worked on a project which compared different block lifting materials and techniques. After a review of the literature on block lifting, they evaluated traditional and new approaches for block lifting fragile archaeological objects. For the first stage of the project they decided to test out different consolidants and facing materials for the objects they were going to lift, which were facsimiles of basketry, a corroded copper bracelet and a painted ceramic. After evaluating a group of eight consolidants and several facing materials, they decided on two consolidants (Paraloid B72 and cyclododecane) and two facing materials (Japanese tissue and cheese cloth) to try out during actual block lifts of the facsimiles. For the block wrapping materials, they tested a traditional wrapping material (plaster bandages) and two newer materials (Altraform and Varaform) to determine which was more effective at holding the block of soil together while lifting.

Area at the Getty Villa, behind the Ranch House, where the students did their block lifting experiments.

Area at the Getty Villa, behind the Ranch House, where the students did their block lifting experiments.

Robin O'Hern and Lily Doan excavate around the object to be lifted creating a block, or pedestal, of soil the artifacts sits on.

Robin O'Hern and Lily Doan excavate around the object to be lifted creating a block, or pedestal, of soil the artifacts sits on.

Facing a metal fascimile in preparation for block lifting

Lily Doan faces a metal facsimile in preparation for block lifting.

Nicole Ledoux and Robin O'Hern lift the now wrapped and supported block of soil out of the ground.

Nicole Ledoux and Robin O'Hern lift the now wrapped and supported block of soil out of the ground.

The block of soil has been lifted, flipped over on a board, and ready to be transported back to the lab to be further excavated. (In this photo: Lily Doan and Robin O'Hern)

The block of soil has been lifted, flipped over on a board, and ready to be transported back to the lab. (In this photo: Lily Doan and Robin O'Hern)

Robin O'Hern and Nicole Ledoux excavate one of the block lifted objects back in the lab.

A summary of their project and findings will be presented at the poster session of this year’s ANAGPIC conference, hosted by Queen’s University Art Conservation Dept. (Kingston, Ontario) May 22-24th. Stay tuned after the conference when their poster will be available on this site. You can see more images from this project at the UCLA/Getty Program’s Facebook page.

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One thought on “Project News: A comparison of block lifting materials and techniques

  1. Hi,

    Is there any possibility of adding a link to our blog, please?

    Our blog is conservation related! The project is pretty exciting and uses volunteers from the local community to help conserve primarily archaeological iron objects excavated from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery site in Kent, England.

    It’s been running since the end of September and we would really value any comments about the use of volunteers and the fact that it is displayed so publically. So far all is well and all the volunteers have shown themselves to be really competent – some of the discoveries they have made are excellent.

    Thanks very much πŸ™‚

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