It’s near end of the quarter and tomorrow the class of 2018 returns to our conservation training labs at the Getty Villa to give their final presentations as graduate students in our program. They will be presenting on their 3rd year internships, as well as discussing the work they did for their MA thesis projects. The day will end with a small reception to celebrate the completion of their conservation degree and graduation.
This year we also have our first alumni reunion organized around the presentation and graduation event. Alumni will not only be in attendance tomorrow , but have organized a reunion day on Saturday that includes lightning round presentations highlighting their current work and/or research.
A list of the class of 2018 3rd year internship placements can be found on this previous post. Here is a list of the M.A. thesis research they will be sharing with us:
Morgan Burgess – Digitizing Conservation: An Approach to Reconstruction and Loss Compensation using Digital 3D Technologies
Marci Burton – A Technical Study of a Pre-Columbian Chilean Child Mummy Bundle from Arica, Chile
Mari Hagemeyer – Exploratory Investigations into the Effectiveness of a Novel Treatment for Denatured Leather and Skin Materials
Hayley Monroe – Conditioning Basketry Elements with Water and Ethanol: An Investigation into the Effects of Existing Conservation Methods
Lindsay Ocal – Materials, Technology and Conservation of Ceramic Vessels from the Site of Amapa in Nayarit, Mexico
Michaela Paulson – The Visible Effects of Adhesives and Pressure on Color in Kingfisher Feathers
Congratulations to the class of 2018! We look forward to celebrating with them, and our alumni, and hearing about all the wonderful work all the current and past UCLA/Getty grads have been doing!
Hayley Monroe shows Julia Parker (Miwok-Kashaya Pomo weaver) the treatment she undertook on a Yosemite Museum basket attributed to Lucy Telles (Mono Lake Paiute – Kucadikadi and Southern Sierra Miwok basket weaver)
We’re just wrapping up the last week of instruction for the spring quarter and as the students are finishing up treatments and other assignments for their classes (as well as studying for exams next week), they’re also getting ready to head out to their summer internship sites.
Here is a list of all the sites and institutions they’ll be working at this summer:
The students will be presenting on their summer internships when they’re back in the fall and we’re looking forward to hearing all about their amazing work! Stay tuned to our social media sites for any posts and/or images from their internships. Hope everyone has a great summer and safe travels!
Skyler Jenkins reconstructs a ceramic vessel during the 2017 season of the Villa Romana di Poggio Gramignano excavations.
Interested in learning what conservators and archaeologists do? Want to learn more about graduate programs in these fields? Want to spend a day visiting labs, learning about cool projects or talking to interesting people? Well don’t miss the annual Open House at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology held on Sat. May 8th, from 1-4pm.
The Open House gives the public the opportunity to have a glimpse into the world of archaeologists and conservators to find out what exactly they do and to learn about the various projects they are currently involved. Lectures, weaving demonstrations and visits to various labs (including our small analytical lab at the Cotsen) are available.
If you’re interested in conservation and want to learn more about our program, stop by room A410 of the Cotsen Institute to talk to UCLA/Getty Program students and faculty. You’ll learn about what conservators do, what graduate conservation training programs are like and the types of projects we work on.
More information about the Open House can be found on the flyer below or by visiting the Cotsen Institute’s event calendar. You can check out some pictures from last year’s Open House in this Facebook album.
During the first quarter of the first year, the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program offers a course on documentation and imaging techniques used for art, archaeology and conservation. In the class, students are introduced to a range of techniques used to document objects and sites and are given a project where they can put what they have learned in the lectures into practice. This year one of the projects focused on documenting the condition of a mural painting located on a building on UCLA’s campus. Three students had the opportunity to examine and document the condition of a section of a mural on the ceiling of the eastern cloister of Royce Hall, one of the four original buildings on the campus. Using various photographic and recording techniques, the students were able to provide a condition assessment of a small section of the murals in this part of the building. In addition to learning how to apply the techniques they learned and become aware of their advantages and limitations, the students were able to provide some information to those responsible for the building on the condition of the mural and issues that may need to be addressed to ensure the preservation of the decorated surfaces.
The presentation below was prepared by the students working on this project and provides a brief summary of the techniques they used for documenting the murals and their results.
In the fall of 2009, the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program offered the course “Introduction to Archaeological Materials Science: Scientific Techniques, Methodologies and Interpretation” (CAEM M210) that focused on basic scientific techniques employed for the examination of archaeological and cultural artifacts to answer questions of anthropological significance and their state of preservation. Among the techniques covered were UV/VIS/NIR spectrophotometry, X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Students were assigned small research projects in which they would apply these techniques, in addition to others discussed in this and other courses, to the investigation of various materials to answer questions about technology and condition.
The four groups of artifacts studied were:
samples of a Byzantine wall painting from St. Neophytos, Cyprus
A series of 5 blue and 5 red pigment samples from the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos, the place of reclusion, in Paphos, Cyprus were analyzed to determine the pigments identity and possible alteration products. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscopy – Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (VPSEM-EDS), Polarized Light Microscope (PLM), and Binocular (stereo) Microscope (BM) were used to analyze the samples and due to the limitations of the techniques, only inconclusive assignments can be made on the pigments’ identity.
From elemental analysis it is suspected that the blue pigment is lapis lazuli and that there are two different red pigments which are cinnabar HgS and red lead (Pb3O4). However, without phase analysis of these samples, a positive identification cannot be made. Alteration of red to black and dark blue to light blue were observed for the samples analyzed. A possible alteration of Cinnabar is to metacinnabar. Documented alteration products of red lead are to plattnerite [β-PbO2] and anglesite [PbSO4]. Fading of lapis lazuli has been attributed to the breakdown of the Al-O-Si in the literature. However, it was not possible to verify if these are the alteration products with the available tools.
Fiber samples from a formative period mummy bundle from Tarapaca 40 in the Atacama desert of Chile were examined in an attempt to identify
them. Standards of human hair and alpaca were used for comparison. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) spectra were collected on the samples and standards. The morphology of the fibers and standards were examined using polarized light microscopy (PLM), scale casts and cross-sections. The spectra from the FT-IR analysis could not be used to differentiation between human and alpaca hair. Based on morphology, three samples were identified as camelid and two were tentatively identified as human.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA houses a collection of Japanese polychrome wooden masks. A pair of these masks, identified as “honomen” (gift or dedication mask), was attributed to the same maker based on their stylistic similarities. The museum records stated that the masks were dated to the 18-19th century and made in the style found in the Kyūshū region of Japan. However, neither the pairing nor provenance of the masks was supported by any textual or technical evidence.
The poster presented here summarizes the preliminary results from a comparative technical investigation on the Fowler masks, as a part of the research to answer the questions regarding the masks’ provenance and their paired attribution. Analytical techniques such as wood characterization, polarized light microscopy (PLM), x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), x ray diffraction (XRD), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) and micro-chemical analysis using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM-EDX) were used to determine the masks’ material composition and methods of manufacture. The analytical results, combined with studies on the masks’ context of use and iconographic origins, provided material evidence that the masks were manufactured in close association with one another, although there was no firm evidence to establish that they were indeed manufactured by the same hand. Furthermore, identifying vitreous pigments on one of the masks pushed the mask’s estimated date of manufacture to 19th-20th century. This finding also added knowledge to a class of pigment not widely used in the Japanese palette until modern times.
Built upon the analytical understanding of the Fowler masks’ material composition and present condition, the research project concluded with a conservation treatment to improve the long-term stability of the polychrome. The most urgent treatment priorities were stabilizing the fragile matte paint surface and locally reinforcing the structural defects on the masks. Due to time constraints, consolidation of the paint was performed only on the red mask. Major structural defects on both masks were reinforced by filling the cavities in the wood with a light-weight and mechanically-reversible fill made of rolled-up Japanese paper, capped with a light-weight putty made from Acryloid B-72 bulked with glass microballoons for a better seal. The fill was then inpainted with Liquitex acrylic emulsion paint to reduce the color contrast between the fill and the wood.
Here are our vessels before firing…you can see the pit warming up there in the background.
Vessels waiting to be fired
After the initial fire heated up, a layer of ceramic sherds was laid down to insulate the pots from the heat. Then our pots, along with all the other greenware (unfired pieces) were placed in the pit. Another layer of large sherds was placed on top of the greenware, and layer of bisqueware (previously fired ceramics) was placed on top of that. Then we added more wood, and fired it up again!
Vessels were placed in pit on a layer of ceramic sherds that act to insulate the pots from the heat
Then more wood was added
After firing for a good few hours, and reaching close to 900 degrees celsius, the pottery was ready to be retrieved.
Firing the pots
Most everything survived! Success!! Now we all know a little bit more about a technique that has been around for many millennia…Thanks to Don Corbett and Marilyn Beaudry-Corbett, Director of the Ceramics Research Group, at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology for organizing all of this!
Removing the pots after firing
Happy students with their fired pots. (L to R) Dawn Lohnas, Cindy Lee Scott, Nicole Ledoux, Tessa de Alarcon, Robin O'Hern, Elizabeth Drolet, Lily Doan (conservation students) Don and Marilyn Corbett (organizers)
The latest issue of the Arctic Studies Center Newsletter, published by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, features an article written by program alum Molly Gleeson (’08) on a project she did during her 3rd year internship at NMNH’s Anthropology Conservation Lab. In the article Molly discusses the treatment of a Yup’ik ground squirrel parka which is part of the exhibit Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska opening at the Anchorage Museum in May 2010. Also make sure to check out the rest of the newsletter for more articles on the work the conservators are doing in preparing about 600 Alaska Native objects for their return to Alaska for exhibition and future study.