Stephanie Jamieson, Project Conservator, Glamorgan Archives
Conservation of Photographs on Glass, Ontario, Toronto
What I hoped to get out of the course:
I applied to attend the Conservation of Photographs on Glass Symposium and Workshop as I hoped it would both benefit me as an individual and my institution through my work on the Glamorgan’s Blood Project. A large part of my role as Project Conservator on the Wellcome Trust funded conservation and cataloguing project, Glamorgan’s Blood, is to survey, conserve and re-house the estimated 4000 glass plate negatives in the National Coal Board collection at the Glamorgan Archives. I have put together a work plan to survey, clean, re-house and digitise these negatives and have isolated the glass plates which require further conservation treatment. In order to put together and implement an informed treatment plan for the damaged glass plate negatives I wanted to attend training that would address these specific issues.
I also hoped to discuss the nature of the glass material in the National Coal Board collection and its specific issues with other conservators who have had similar experiences, therefore sharing ideas and recommendations.
Analysis of the course content:
The training took place over three days and was structured so that the practical element could follow two days of lectures. The content of the first day was more generalised, with lectures from Stephen Koob, Head of Glass Conservation at the Corning Museum, on the Nature, Chemistry and Manufacture of Glass, which provided a comprehensive introduction to the inherent issues of this type of material. This was followed by a lecture on the history of photography on glass given by Katherine Whitman, illustrated with examples of the work of photographic pioneers such as John Herschel and the Lumière brothers. The remaining lectures of the day analysed the different types of photographic processes on glass and examples form the AGO collections, presented by curator Sophie Hackett.
The second day of the course focused on deterioration and conservation techniques, investigating adhesives, cleaning techniques, re-assembly and consolidation methods and storage. The delegates discussed their own collection challenges, sharing experiences and advice.
The third and final day was a chance for the delegates to put into practice the repair techniques learnt the previous day. Each person was given a work space in the AGO conservation studio and the tools for practising the various techniques for reassembling broken glass plates. There was also an area where we were shown how to practice consolidating emulsion on glass plate negatives and tintypes.
We finished the workshop with a group discussion on the benefits of the training and suggestions for improvement.
Evaluation of the benefits to you/your institution (e.g how you disseminated the knowledge):
I have written blog posts for the Glamorgan Archives blog and the Archives Wales blog on the training I attended and its outcomes so far. Both of these blogs reach a diverse audience which is not just conservation focused.
I have written ‘how to’ instructions with illustrations for the Glamorgan Archives conservation studio on the techniques I learnt during the workshop. These will be available for colleagues and placement students to use.
In November 2018 the Icon Photographic Materials Group will be hosting a round table style discussion event where conservators are given the chance to talk about projects, training and research. I have submitted an abstract to the committee to speak about the workshop and share these ideas with the photo conservation community. I will also write an article summarising the glass conservation workshop for the Icon PhMG blog, which will help to further spread the information.
Attending this training has increased my confidence in tackling issues presented by this type of material, allowing me to move forward with my work at the Glamorgan Archives. I have put together a treatment plan for the glass plate negatives requiring consolidation treatment in the National Coal Board collection. I will begin by practising and perfecting the technique on plates we will not be keeping before working on the catalogued items.
I greatly benefited as an individual from attending this training as I have learnt new skills and shared ideas with experienced professionals. This knowledge which will be useful when working with other collections in the future as well as in my current role. The training will greatly benefit my institution as it has improved my ability to care for items in the collection and allowed me to record the information for current colleagues and future members of staff.
I greatly benefited from attending this training, as I have learnt new skills and shared ideas with experienced professionals. The training will greatly benefit my institution as it has improved my ability to care for items in the collection