Friday, 30 September 2016




To start off this year taking charge of this column, I thought long and hard about the title: Conservation Tips... There are so many out there! So many great institutes around the world write documents specifically for people like us: what type of damage is possible, how to repair/prevent damage on artifacts, proper storage, pest management, etc.

So what did I want to do for my first article to help contribute to this ever-expanding pool of strong conservation materials? I began to feel a heavy weight upon my shoulders... what can I, a student with nothing but a keen interest in conservation and very general experience, give to those who want to learn more?


What I wanted was to create a resource that could be useful to people in a big picture sense, especially those who may not know where to start when it comes to conserving. This could be consultants, archaeologists, museum employees, local heritage professionals, or anyone with an interest in conservation!

So I came up with these babies: The Conservation Cheat Sheets (or more professionally--according to my document titles--Conservation 101 Sheets)! Actually, you can call them anything you want: Weird Looking Charts, Lots 'o' Lines, whatever you feel like. There are two: one for inorganic artifacts and one for organic. Below are their previews.

(c) Kristen McLaughlin

(c) Kristen McLaughlin

INORGANIC CONSERVATION PDF (with working links!)

ORGANIC CONSERVATION PDF (with working links!)

Say you have a basic conservation problem. Maybe you want a starting point to jump off from and Google is overwhelming you. All you have to do is open the handy dandy Conservation Cheat Sheets! You have a leather item that's so brittle it makes you nervous? Follow the lines to get to a useful source link. What about a piece of flaking pottery? No problem, just follow the path! Because that, my friends, is the destination. Each final result is actually a working link that will take you to the institution's webpage about said topic; usually there is even more useful information right on the page.

This means: the best part comes when you download them. You can then click the links at the bottom of your flowchart journey and bam, you have a place to start, a resource already in front of you.

So even though the images above may (generally) help you figure out the basic issue with your item, make sure to download them for clickability! Then you can keep them on your computer forever.

You can be a ninja conservator now! Whoo! Source.

PS: These charts are very general and are meant to be more like starting off points. There was no way I could possibly link to all of the sources I wanted to, nor delve into the more complicated problems and sub-problems that occur in the fascinating world of conservation (not at this point, anyway!). I hope these interactive charts help out at least a few of you as you embark on your conserving adventures!

Here are the sources I used for the PDFs:


Texas A&M Institute: Cleaning of Iron (a variety of methods)

CCI: Tannic Acid Coating for Iron

The Archaeologist's Manual for Conservation (PDF): Iron Chapter

Texas A&M Institute: Cleaning Copper

SHA: Cleaning and Mending Ceramics

AIC: Dealing with Old Ceramic Repairs

Texas A&M Institute: Removal of Salts and Stains

SHA: Mending Glass

CCI: Cleaning Ceramic/Glass


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Holes in Wool

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI): Stitches in Textile Restoration

Smithsonian Institution: Mouldy Textile

CCI: Removing Mould from Leather

Texas A&M Institute: Brittle Leather

Society of Historical Archaeology (SHA): Consolidating Brittle Bone (scroll down to section)

Texas A&M Institute: Flaking/Dirty Bone/Ivory/Antler

CCI: Consolidating Wet Bone

Texas A&M Institute: Waterlogged Leather

Texas A&M Institute: Waterlogged Wood

Make sure to explore them further!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! Working as a consulting archaeologist we don't have a lot of time to do our own research on how to conserve things properly. These charts will be very handy to look up conservation methods quickly!