Hints and Tips

Other resins
It is not essential that you use EasySections resin with EasySections. Other conservators have used resins such as Technovit 2000 and Bioplast with equally good results.

Shelf-life
After about six months, EasySection resin can become stringy. This is then difficult to work with as it gives a very short working time. An aged resin will not affect the curing processes of the resin. Any bubbles which may appear will work their way to the surface of the cube. A four year old bottle of resin has just been used successfully although it did appear very “gooey”. If necessary, use a few drops of acetone to thin the resin. Please note however, the acetone may well affect any layers in the sample which are susceptible to this solvent.

Sample protection
Vulnerable samples can be coated with Parylene to protect them from the action of solvents. This will protect all layers within the sample and has been researched by Dr Leslie Carlyle et al in a paper entitled “Traditional Painting Varnishes Project: Preliminary Report on Natural and Artificial Aging and a Note on the Preparation of Cross Sections”, Varnish Material – Aesthetics – History, International Colloquium, Braunschweig, 15-17 June 1998.

The relevant section is reproduced here with kind permission of Leslie Carlyle.

“The Preparation of Cross-Sections:
Cross-Sections of varnish and oil paint were taken from the varnished boards after they had aged naturally for three years. Because the samples were still relatively young, the embedding medium (Bueher Castolite Resin) dissolved the varnishes (including temporary varnishes made with egg white and isinglass). The problem was solved with the application of Parylene C, Poly (p-xylylene) 11,12which when introduced in a vapour form under vacuum, deposited a 2 m thick insoluble polymer film over the entire cross-section. They polymer film protected the samples from dissolution in the embedding medium.

Cross-Sections were studied using ultraviolet light microscopy. Of particular interest was that the mastic samples all exhibited a separation within a single layer of varnish. It was unclear whether two phases within the varnish had separated or whether the varnish had interacted with the paint layer below forming an apparent “separate” phase within the film. The two-phase appearance occurred in all of the mastic films and was independent of the solvent used in the varnish. The dammar varnishes did not exhibit this phenomenon.”

Parylene can be obtained from Specialty Coating Systems (SCS – formerly NovaTran) in Wisconsin, USA. Or a European contact: SCS Europe/Northampton, England – Tony Weston, +44-1604-715-600

Notes:

11. Humphrey, B., “The Application of Parylene Conformal Coating Technology to Archival and Artifact Conservation”, Studies in Conservation, Vol 29, 1984

12. Beach,W.F; Lee,C; Bassett,D.R; Austin,T.M.; Olson,R, “Xylylene Polymers’, inEncyclopedia of Polymer Science and Engineering, Vol.17, second edition, 1989, p.104

A full copy of the article can be emailed upon request. Please contact us.