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Care of Plastics. In Art & Design collections derek.pullen@tate.org.uk 07974985849. Scope. Artists’ plastics Care principles - a stable environment Identification – prioritise problem plastics Signs and Causes of Deterioration Preparation, handling, storage and display Labelling

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Care of plastics

Care of Plastics

In Art & Design collections

derek.pullen@tate.org.uk 07974985849


Scope
Scope

Artists’ plastics

Care principles - a stable environment

Identification – prioritise problem plastics

Signs and Causes of Deterioration

Preparation, handling, storage and display

Labelling

Cleaning

Other options


Artists plastics
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints

  • Acrylics, PVA – poly vinyl acetate


Artists plastics1
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – Glass Reinforced Plastic

Philip King

Tra-La-La  19632743 x 762 x 762 mm


Artists plastics2
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

Arman

Venus of the shaving brushes c.1968


Artists plastics3
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

Ron Mueck Ghost  1998Fibreglass, silicone, polyurethane foam, acrylic fibre and fabric2019 x 648 x 991 mm


Artists plastics4

Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

  • PMMA - Acrylic


Artists plastics5
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

  • PMMA - Acrylic

  • Mixed media, found objects & readymades


Bruce lacey the womaniser 1966 mixed media 1500 x 1650 x 730 mm
Bruce Lacey The Womaniser  1966Mixed media 1500 x 1650 x 730 mm


Artists plastics6
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

  • PMMA - Acrylic

  • Mixed media, found objects & readymades

  • Cellulosics –cellulose nitrate and acetate

Naum Gabo, Column 1920 h.144mm


Artists plastics7
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

  • PMMA - Acrylic

  • Mixed media, found objects & readymades

  • Cellulosics –cellulose nitrate and acetate

  • Photographic, new media, videos, tapes and disks

Scrap heap services


Artists plastics8
Artists’Plastics

  • Paints -acrylic, polyvinyl acetate

  • GRP – glass reinforced plastic

  • Polyester resin

  • Silicone resins

  • PMMA - Acrylic

  • Mixed media, found objects & readymades

  • Cellulosics –cellulose nitrate and acetate

  • Photographic, new media, videos, tapes and disks

  • Polymer clay

Thomas Schutte from United Enemies  1993 h.350mm


Carol blackburn polymer clay bowls 2007 each 45 x 75mm diam
Carol BlackburnPolymer clay bowls 2007each 45 x 75mm diam


Care principles
Care principles

Prevention

Damage is irreversible.

Create a dark, cool, clean, dry

and stable environment


Care principles1
Care principles

Prevention

Damage is irreversible, create a stable environment

Purpose – what are we trying to achieve?

Mission policy, display, reference, hands on, accommodate artist’s intent?


Care principles2
Care principles

Prevention

Damage is irreversible, create a stable environment

Purpose – what are we trying to achieve?

Mission policy, display, reference, hands on, accommodate artist’s intent?

Continuity - establish good practice

Maximise access, minimise handling


Care principles3
Care principles

Prevention – damage is irreversible

Purpose – what are we trying to achieve?

Mission policy, display, reference, hands on, accommodate artist’s intent?

Continuity - establish good practice

Maximise access, minimise handling

Identify, document, record and monitorSurvey, Photography, avoid hot lights. Annual check of ‘at risk’ works


Care principles4
Care principles

Prevention – damage is irreversible

Purpose – what are we trying to achieve?

Mission policy, display, reference, hands on, accommodate artist’s intent?

Continuity - establish good practice

Maximise access, minimise handling

Identify, document, record and monitor

Survey, Photography, avoid hot lights. Annual check of ‘at risk’ works

Any plan is better than none


Prioritise the problem plastics
Prioritise the problem plastics

Identify:

Cellulose acetate

Cellulose nitrate (celluloid)

Plasticised PVC

Polyurethane polyester foams

Isolate

Ventilate

Monitor


Signs of deterioration
Signs of Deterioration

Odour – acidic, camphor (CN)

Change: colour -yellowing, bleaching shape –distortion, sagging, sweating – oily spots bloom – white powder cracks, splits (CAc) and crazing(CN)

Corrosion of metal parts

Discolouration of packing materials

Increased brittleness, crumbling of foam

Onset is unpredictable and rapid

Occurs at stress points and handled areas

Unstable environments cause stress



Causes of deterioration
Causes of deterioration condition in 2007

Inherent vice –material, manufacture, history, shape, stress


Causes of deterioration1
Causes of deterioration condition in 2007

Inherent vice –material, manufacture, history, shape, stress

Unstable environment -excess light, temperature swings, changes in relative humidity, pollutants


Causes of deterioration2
Causes of deterioration condition in 2007

Inherent vice –material, manufacture, history, shape, stress

Unstable environment -excess light, temperature swings, changes in relative humidity, pollutants

Mechanical damage – handling, transport & housekeeping. Wear gloves


Causes of deterioration3
Causes of deterioration condition in 2007

Inherent vice –material, manufacture, history, shape, stress

Unstable environment -excess light, temperature swings, changes in relative humidity, pollutants

Mechanical damage – handling, transport & housekeeping. Wear gloves

Cleaning and misconceived repairs


Light damage
Light damage condition in 2007

Cumulative and irreversible

Affects both the plastic and pigments

Control light in storage and on display

UV component in light is most damaging

Use UV filters on windows and lights


Storage
Storage condition in 2007

Stable conditions at all times

Clean & dry

Cool & dark

Minimise handling

labels


Storage1
Storage condition in 2007

Use: ‘archival’ quality material

Avoid contact with wood, metals, dust and other ‘objects’

Acid free paper

Silicone release paper

Polyester wadding

Polypropylene containers

Plastazote (closed cell polyethylene foams)


Storage problem plastics
Storage – Problem Plastics condition in 2007

Isolate and separate ‘at risk’ from ‘deteriorating’ objects

Use:

Acid free paper

Silicone release paper

Polyester wadding

Ventilated polypropylene containers

Scavengers for acidic gases

Charcoal cloth and zeolites

Artsorb board



Storage problem plastics1
Storage – Problem Plastics cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Check vulnerable ‘at risk’ items at least once a year, preferably more often.

Use smell and dampened indicator strip to confirm acidic off-gassing.


Construction in Space ‘Two Cones’ (c.1968) cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Photo taken 1978


Construction in space two cones c 1968
Construction in Space ‘Two Cones’ (c.1968) cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin


Display problem plastics
Display –Problem Plastics cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Low light - less than 100 lux

  • Ventilated plinth covers

  • Allow at least 72 hours for plinth paint to dry before covering


Labelling
Labelling cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Avoid solvent based inks, paints and isolating layers.

Avoid adhesive tapes

Avoid rubber bands

Use tie on labels with cotton tape

Use soft pencil (inside objects)


Cleaning
Cleaning cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

To remove dust and contaminants

Cleaning causes damage – both mechanical and chemical

Decide on a balance between appearance and risk of damage

Avoid solvents, eg alcohols, acetone, cellulose thinners, cleaning fluids

Use soft dry lint free cloths, eg microfibre

For stubborn marks only, use water to dampen cloth and dry immediately


Other plastic formats
Other plastic formats cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Fabrics – costumes and accessories - provide supports, isolate PVC’s

Photograhic – archival quality storage materials

New media: videos, tapes, disks – a management policy is essential for maintenance and migration.


Uk conservation supplies
UK conservation supplies cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Conservation by Design www.conservation-by-design.co.uk

Preservation equipment www.preservationequipment.com

To find a conservator- www.conservationregister.com

Book- ‘Plastics, collecting and conserving’ Quye & Williamson

Article -Scott Williams – Care of Plastics; Malignant Plastics – 8 pages –google it or…

http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/waac/wn/wn24/wn24-1/wn24-102.html


Care summary
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record


Care summary1
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record

  • Keep in clean, cool, dry stable conditions


Care summary2
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record

  • Keep in clean, cool, dry stable conditions

  • Avoid light


Care summary3
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record

  • Keep in clean, cool, dry stable conditions

  • Avoid light

  • Isolate CN, CAc, PVC’s,


Care summary4
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record

  • Keep in clean, cool, dry stable conditions

  • Avoid light

  • Isolate CN, CAc, PVC’s,

  • Monitor


Care summary5
Care Summary cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

  • Know what you’ve got – survey & record

  • Keep in clean, cool, dry stable conditions

  • Avoid light

  • Isolate CN, CAc, PVC’s,

  • Monitor

  • Keep on collecting and researching


Jim Lambie Tate Britain 2001 cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin


3D Documentation of Plastic cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Sculptures by Naum Gabo

in Tate’s Collection

A Project Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Gabo Construction on a Line (1937-8) cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Undated photo c.1940’s

Tateversion


Original cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Replica


Original cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Replica


Original cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Replica


Construction on a line cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

(c. 1935 – 7 )

Naum Gabo.


Richard Artschwager Table and Chair  1963-4 cloth in ventilated polypropylene binMelamine laminate and woodobject: 755 x 1320 x 952 mm object: 1143 x 438 x 533 mm


The two sculptures chosen for cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

our pilot study

Construction in Space ‘Crystal’

(c. 1937)

Spiral Theme (c. 1941)


Spiral theme 1941 photo taken in 2007
Spiral Theme 1941: Photo taken in 2007 cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin


Laser scanning ‘Construction in Space “Crystal” cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin


cloth in ventilated polypropylene binConstruction in Space “Crystal”

(Model coloured to show different component parts)

Data from Plowman Craven


Photogrammetry cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin

Lines drawn from different camera

position to targets on the object

A2

A1

A3

Taking measurements in 3D space

from photogrammetric images


Use of the touch probe cloth in ventilated polypropylene bin


Construction in space crystal showing warping of form
Construction in Space “Crystal”: cloth in ventilated polypropylene binShowing warping of form


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