UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

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

Collaboration between the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program and ACCM Part 2: A Visit to the Villa

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Several weeks after the students visited the museum in Palm Springs, Dawn Wellman and Sean Milanovich came to the Getty Villa to discuss basket-making techniques and the pieces the students were working on. Several other guests, including native basketry expert William Pink, former UCLA/Getty student Molly Gleeson, and independent curator Bryn Potter, also offered their expertise.

The morning began with a talk from Molly regarding her work in Alaska with baskets in museums and with local weavers. Several of the students found this information particularly helpful, as they were working with pieces from the Northwest Coast region. Molly presented a fascinating overview of her work, which included gathering local materials, speaking with local weavers, creating her own twined basket, and treating a variety of pieces at several different institutions. Following the talk, the students and visitors shared lunch, before heading up to the laboratory to discuss the baskets.

Visitors examine some of the pieces to be treated from the ACCM collection

Students talked individually about each of the pieces they were working on, sharing information they had uncovered regarding the technology, condition, and cultural attribution of each of the objects. Dawn Wellman (curator at ACCM), Sean Milanovich (Cultural Specialist, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians), Bryn Potter (Curator and basketry expert), William Pink (Luiseño and native basketry expert), and Molly Gleeson all participated in the discussion, and shared their thoughts with the students regarding each of the pieces. This exchange of information was valuable for all parties involved. The students shared information discovered through technical examination and research, which was then further informed by the knowledge the visitors had to offer.

Current student Nicole Ledoux discusses the basket she will be treating

Following discussion of the pieces from the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, Willie Pink did a variety of presentations for the class, showcasing the use of traditional plant materials from the area.

Here Willie demonstrates how to makes a yucca fiber brush

This was particularly interesting for one of the students, who was working on a pair of fiber sandals that might have been created from processed yucca fiber. Following the presentation, some students also had the chance to create yucca brushes themselves. Again, this provided an important understanding of the processing of elements and the processes involved in constructing objects made of these fiber elements.

Freshly processed yucca fiber (left), held adjacent to a previously-processed, dry yucca fiber brush (right)

After showing the students how dogbane is split, processed, and twined into cordage, Willie showed demonstrated making netting out of dogbane as well.

Dogbane cordage

Current student Robin O’Hern examines unprocessed dogbane

Following Willie’s presentation, students had a chance to use plant materials and try their hand at some of the techniques that Willie had demonstrated. Each of the students was eager to contribute links to the dogbane net!

Lily Doan examines the dogbane net that Willie began

Lily Doan holds the net taught as Tessa de Alarcon adds additional links, using the techniques demonstrated by Willie

Here, Robin splits juncus with her teeth, a technique that can be quite difficult for a first-timer!

Overall, the day provided an incredible opportunity for the students to learn from, and engage in discussions with, all of the visitors, each of whom had much to

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