Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 141 March 2018
Katie Wood

From 18th to 20th December 2017 I attended a workshop in Barcelona on loss compensation and retouching. The workshop was aimed at paper conservators working in private practice and was mostly hands on. Most of the techniques employed used cellulose powder, over the three days we were introduced to current literature, preparation methods, a number of different methods using cellulose powder for infilling.

Walking to the venue through the streets of Barcelona

The course was run by Rita Udina who has a private practice in Barcelona, and Amparo Escolano who has a private studio in Palm Beach, Florida. Rita and Amparo shared research they presented at a recent RECH conference (Udina & Escolano 2017) on the stability of micro-cellulose in paper conservation. Their findings were that it was stable even when toasted, as long as the cellulose is rinsed.

Rita demonstrates to the workshop attendees

They then introduced us to some different ways to use micro-cellulose for infilling (Pollack 2016 & 2014). The first method involved spraying the micro-cellulose onto Japanese paper to modify its texture, opacity and colour. We used a fine grain micro-cellulose called Solkafloc (22 microns) and mixed it with Methocel 4AM and some Ethanol. After spraying numerous layers of the solution onto Japanese paper via an airbrush, it had the appearance of a western paper, thus making it more useful for infilling artworks on western papers.

 Katie Wood sprays micro-cellulose onto Japanese paper

While we were preparing these samples we also used the same mixture to spray onto sheets of Mylar. Once thick enough we could peel them off the Mylar and use these thin sheets to lessen the appearance of stains and foxing.  Having a granular appearance, they can also be used to fill media loss in aquatints.

Another useful technique used moulding putty to recreate surface textures for infills. The putty can be placed onto a piece of paper (not recommended on artworks, so find something with a similar texture). Push down softly so that the texture is imprinted onto the surface of the putty. This can then be used as a mould. Create your filling material using Methocel and Solkafloc. Modifiers can also be added, such as china clay for opacity and glass flakes for matting.

The course was a great opportunity to learn and practice these new techniques, exchange ideas with other conservators and of course taste the delicious Catalonian cuisine

Thanks to my employer, International Conservation Services for the financial support to attend this course.


Pollack, 2016, Spray application of cellulose powder to minimize areas of discoloration on works of paper and canvas.

Pollack, 2014, Spray cellulose powder to minimize local discoloration on paper, The Book and Paper Group Annual, 33, pp. 106-107.

Udina and Escolano, 2017, The Suitability of Powdered micro-crystalline Cellulose for its Use in Paper Conservation, RECH 4.