For this project, a black and white carbon photograph dated 1924 was conserved.
The photograph was mounted on a secondary support made from card, which had heavy mould presence. The photograph’s gelatin emulsion layer had areas that had also been damaged by mould, and were flaking away from the paper substrate. It was thought this damage could have been caused by exposure to moisture, as the lower edge of the photograph had green discolouration and coincided with the areas of flaking media and the mould presence on the secondary support verso. The secondary support also had strong planar distortion which could have been caused by moisture.
It was decided the secondary support had to be removed in order to remove the presence of mould. The marbled paper was to be retained however, and the object later reattached to this, as it formed part of the history of the presentation of the object. The photograph was first removed from the secondary backing and then backing removal of the mouldy card was carried out within a fume cupboard.
Above: Part of the way through backing removal of the mouldy secondary support.
The marbled paper was then immersion washed in a warm bath in order to remove the remnants of paper left from the backing removal as well as soften and remove the adhesive residues. During the washing the two textile ribbons along the top edge of the paper became loose, which was not a problem as they were easily re-adhered later on using wheat starch paste.
The photograph was then dry surface cleaned, and then aqueously surface cleaned with cotton swabs. Consolidation of the flaking emulsion was then carried out using a warm gelatin solution.
The marbled paper was lined with Japanese paper in order to provide extra support to weak and missing areas. After the lining had dried, the marble paper was float mounted to a new card secondary support, using small Japanese tabs. Adhesive residues on the verso of the photograph were removed using a Carboxy Methylcellulose poultice, and the object was then humidified and flattened before being float mounted onto the marbled paper. The float mounting allows for the object to be easily removed from the supports in the future if necessary.
Above: The photograph being float mounted to the marbled paper and new secondary support.