Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Carmichael Watson Conservation Commences!

The present phase of the Carmichael Watson Project includes the beginnings of much needed conservation work. A number of Alexander Carmichael’s original field notebooks are currently under going conservation and preservation treatment and we are also lucky enough to welcome Mariko Watanabe to the project.


Mariko (a student on the University’s MSc Material Cultures course) has been volunteering in the Centre for Research Collections conservation studio since April. Working under the supervision of the Lothian Health Services Archive Paper Conservator, Mariko is treating a collection of manuscript notes of secular songs collected by Carmichael. The following is Mariko’s first blog update, but others will follow as the work progresses. 

So far, overall condition of the items has been checked, photographed and documented. There is no one item whose condition is exceptionally bad. Fortunately, none of the tears and losses are so big that we lose the transcribed songs and almost all of the text is still fairly legible.

However, dirt has accumulated on the surface of the papers and a number of small tears, creases and pin holes mean that this collection is fragile and may prevent researchers from using these materials comfortably. Metal pins and paper clips used to hold some sheets together have caused holes and rust damage to the surrounding area. In order to improve each item’s stability and ease of handling, we are going to repair these damaged sheets carefully without any loss of text.

After condition checking, surface cleaning began after training and some practice on non-collection items. Surface cleaning is carried out very gently using a soft-bristled brush, a chemical sponge and small slithers of Mars Staedtler eraser.

Once I have done some more cleaning, I will post photographs to show before and after the treatment.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]