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View Full Version : Surfaces - Archival? Acid Free? Neutral pH? ARGH!


Roan
02-16-2001, 09:46 AM
Just want to share and get feedback from everyone on some wonderful information I've been dredging up for the Roan Studio web site section on "Surfaces: Myths and Truths":
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Archival? Acid Free? Neutral pH? What exactly does it all mean? What they are all referring to is paper permanance. How many years the paper will last before it begins to deteriorate -- how well it resists tears, fading and general aging over time.

The national standard for permanance requires papers to have a pH of 7.5 to 8.5, contain at least 2% calcium carbonate, and contain no groundwood or unbleached fiber. Paper meeting this standard can be expected to last more than 100 years. Papers that fall into this category are usually referred to as "archival" and are made from 100% cotton or high alpha cellulose.

Papers with a pH level of 5.5 or higher can be expected to last up to 50 years. These are papers that are listed as simply "acid free" or "neutral pH".

Don't be fooled! If the paper is listed as "60% cotton, 40% cellulose fiber" it is most likely not of archival quality. Cellulose is the main constituent of plant cell walls and all plants contain tissue that will produce it. Cotton (91%) is the purest forum of cellulose. Other sources are hemp (77%), soft and hardwoods (57% to 65%) and kozo (66% to 77%). If the paper manufacturer simply states "x% cellulose fiber" then it stands to reason that it is not pure cellulose and is not archival.

High alpha cellulose fiber, on the other hand, is wood pulp that has been further processed and is considered to have the same longevity as cotton.

So, why is this important? To you, 50 years may seem like a long time. To your clients -- the people you are selling your paintings to -- it may not. They may be buying a family heirloom which they expect to last forever. Perhaps this is unrealistic, but it is extremely important that you make all clients aware how long they can expect their painting to last.

50 years or 100+ years?
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The above is just rough draft of part of the first web page in this section. Looking for suggestions/comments.

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

[This message has been edited by Roan (edited February 16, 2001).]

nancymae
02-16-2001, 10:57 AM
Roan,
Love your website and all the work you have done to make pastels a little less mysterious. I do appreciate all your hard work.

The problem I am having with the above article is the references to the contents of the various papers. Could you give product examples??? That would really help. I recently was looking at a Dick Blick catalog and I saw the various types of pastel papers/boards available. They do not give that type of information in the ads, so I'm left not really knowing what I am buying. Is this something (acid content) that I should get from the manufacturer???..or the catalog rep on the phone??? I guess I am confused.

Thanks for all your help!!!

Nancy

Roan
02-16-2001, 11:45 AM
Ah, good question and thankfully one I've covered :P

Visit my site, find "Surfaces" on the navigation menu. Click, then click on "Pastel Papers" and you'll get a table with all the papers I have listed to date -- including their content. I had to dredge to get some of that information :P

Please note that those are just papers, not all surfaces. I've yet to delve into that area.

If it just says "archival" or "acid free" or "pH neutral" then I haven't been able to track down information -- yet. I see only Amalfi is listed as just "archival". I'm having problems finding the exact paper because vendors keep giving it ambigious names.

Do beware of listings that contain ambigious comments. For example: Sabretooth surfaces. I've seen it listed on several vendor sites as "cotton rag board". What exactly they mean by "board" is a little bit of a mystery to me at the moment. Are they referring to the thickness of the surface or do they mean that it's cotton rag stuck to bristol board? This is something I need to research and it often means a visit to the manufacturer's web site or a phone call.

One more comment, if I may, and I don't mean to confuse:

I've done all this work on archival surfaces because it's often a topic of contention with pastelists. I DO pose the question though: IS it really that important? I've seen paintings by the wonderful artist Rosalba Carriera that are over 270 years old that were painted on just "paper". What KIND of paper? No one ever lists that anywhere. It really makes me wonder. Were papers more commonly 100% cotton back then because they didn't have modern day processes that allow us to substitute inferior content? Or are they painted on non-archival paper? Is this why the Old Masters' oils are deteriorating (because of the surfaces used and the impurities of their oils) much faster than the Masters' of pastels? This in itself is a topic that I hope to address later in my article, if I can find the information to answer the questions.

Hope this helps and I hope I didn't confuse you!

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

[This message has been edited by Roan (edited February 16, 2001).]

nancymae
02-16-2001, 02:44 PM
Thanks sooo much Roan....your website is great and I think you are a WONDERFUL pastel artist!!! Where do you get the time!!!!

Your site and comments have helped me greatly!! I am enjoying my new love of pastels!!!

Nancy

LDianeJohnson
02-16-2001, 06:20 PM
Great thread Roan.Very insightful and helpful.

Roan
02-17-2001, 12:05 AM
If you are looking for archival papers, I thought I would post a quick list of all papers that I've found that are 100% cotton or high alpha cellulose. If I've missed any, please let me know. There are tons of papers and I've only listed the ones that are "easy" to get:

Moulin de Larroque Bergerac -- 100% cotton, neutral pH.
Moulin de Larroque Special Soft -- 100% cotton, neutral pH.
Moulin de Pombie Mouchetes Couleurs -- 100% cotton, neutral pH.
Arches Cover -- 100% cotton, neutral pH.
Fabriano Ingres -- cotton and high alpha cellulose, neutral pH
Hähnemuhle Bugra Butten -- 100% high alpha cellulose
Hähnemuhle Ingres -- High alpha cellulose pulp. Neutral pH.

I don't have all of these papers sourced on the web as yet, but if you really want to try some of them, your best bet is to order from New York Central Art. They carry all of these and are very reasonably priced:

The URL to NYC Art is: http://www.nycentralart.com

They do not have online sales, but you can order their catalogs directly from their web site. Their catalog also has paper content listed for pretty much every surface they sell. It's a real gold mine of information. It's a great reference worth having.

Hope this helps until I can get all the resources done.

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

[This message has been edited by Roan (edited February 16, 2001).]

Roan
02-17-2001, 04:13 AM
Nancymae:

Wow. Thank you very much for your comments. MUCH appreciated!

Diane:

Thanks! Do you happen to have any idea where I can source web info on pastels and pastel papers used in the 17th century or so? http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Or do you think I should just research paper history? I'm really intrigued by the theory I have that cotton (and possibly parchment) was pretty much the only material that good papers were made from back then. Perhaps they sourced it from the American colonies?

I also wonder how they made their pastels. Did they use chalk or pigments and binders? I wanna know. It would explain the longevity of these paintings. It would also kinda throw some dubious light on archival being "100 years or more".

Oh, and other than prehistoric cave drawings, any "Master" pastelists that existed before Ms. Carriera? I'm doing a section entitled "It Didn't Start With Degas!" I love his stuff, but I think too much emphasis has been placed on him.

Sorry for all the questions, but knowing where to start is half the battle and you never know who might have an "Advance to Go" card in here :P

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

Roan
02-17-2001, 04:22 AM
Oh, doh. I must have been half asleep at the switch when I wrote "There are tons of papers and I've only listed the ones that are 'easy' to get" in the last post on papers I made. I need to clarify what I mean about 'easy to get'. I chose those particular papers because I have seen some of them for sale at places like Dick Blick, Dakota and many of the other vendors I have listed on my site.

So, if you want to do your own sourcing and price checks, try your favorite vendor first. If you can't find the paper you want to try, you can either check my master vendor list on my web site or go straight to the Surfaces -- Pastel Papers section. That's really your best bet. Most of them carry at least one or two of these "better" papers.

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

[This message has been edited by Roan (edited February 17, 2001).]

joemajury
02-18-2001, 04:19 PM
Roan,
I have been looking at thes sites lately, you MIGHT find them interesting - you might not.

They are to do with the history of paper, and include some references to paper in the 17th Century.
http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture/washi/world/05_e.htm

http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/map7.htm

Joe

[This message has been edited by joemajury (edited February 18, 2001).]

Roan
02-18-2001, 11:35 PM
Coolios, Joe! I'll go take a boo a little later. Thanks muchly and I'll let you know if they have the info I want or no :P

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

dmartellart
02-26-2001, 01:26 AM
Roan, a friend loaned me a book by Genevieve Monnier called <u>Pastels from the 16th to the 20th Century</u> The ISBN# is 2-605-00297-7. It begins with da Vinci, and goes on with Bernardino Luini 1481-1532, Jean Clouet 1485-1541, Pierre Biard 1559-1609, Daniel Dumonstier 1574-1646, Jacopo Bassano 1517-1592, Federico Barocci 1528-1612, Sebastiano Mazzoni 1615-1685, Charles LeBrun 1619-1690,Joseph Vivien 1657-1734, Antoine Coypel 1661-1722, Francois Boucher 1703-1770, Francois Lemoine 1688-1737, and finally Rosalba Carriera. At least those were the onew with pictures, LOL!

Roan
02-26-2001, 06:41 AM
Oh, thank you, Donna! That's a great "Advance to Go!" card :P

Hugs!

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

Roan
02-26-2001, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by Sandi:
Canson mi-tientes is supposedly acid free, archival, or whatever.. except for the black papers. Black papers of any brand is questionable. Are you researching for 1000 yr archivalness, 500 yr, 100 yr or 20 yr? They're all archival only to a certain age arent' they?


Canson is acid free, yes, but because it is not all cotton or high alpha cellulose (it contains cellulose fiber, not the same thing), it's not archival. Museum standard for archival is 100+ years, and Canson has a life expectancy of about 50 years.

Love how Degas used cardboard. lol

Exactly! This is the type of thing that I'm researching next. I mean, does it REALLY matter? Are his deteriorating faster than other mediums? What about other pastelists? No idea.

All on my list to research!



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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

Sandi
02-27-2001, 12:01 AM
Canson mi-tientes is supposedly acid free, archival, or whatever.. except for the black papers. Black papers of any brand is questionable.
Are you researching for 1000 yr archivalness, 500 yr, 100 yr or 20 yr? They're all archival only to a certain age arent' they?
Interesting thread.
Love how Degas used cardboard. lol

Sandi
02-27-2001, 06:44 PM
Canson is acid free, yes, but because it is not all cotton or high alpha cellulose (it contains cellulose fiber, not the same thing), it's not archival. Museum standard for archival is 100+ years, and Canson has a life expectancy of about 50 years.

oops, first read through I thought you said 20 yrs.

I hear you. I just thought Canson had more than 1 type of paper and various archivalnesses too.

Roan
06-22-2001, 06:21 AM
Originally posted by dmartellart
Roan, a friend loaned me a book by Genevieve Monnier called <u>Pastels from the 16th to the 20th Century</u> The ISBN# is 2-605-00297-7. It begins with da Vinci, and goes on with Bernardino Luini 1481-1532, Jean Clouet 1485-1541, Pierre Biard 1559-1609, Daniel Dumonstier 1574-1646, Jacopo Bassano 1517-1592, Federico Barocci 1528-1612, Sebastiano Mazzoni 1615-1685, Charles LeBrun 1619-1690,Joseph Vivien 1657-1734, Antoine Coypel 1661-1722, Francois Boucher 1703-1770, Francois Lemoine 1688-1737, and finally Rosalba Carriera. At least those were the onew with pictures, LOL!

Donna, just an fyi:

I did buy this book you recommended and it is WONDERFUL! Cost me a pretty penny from a rare book ZShop on Amazon, but well worth it. Soon as I get some time to dedicate to this area of my web site (HAH!) I'm going to sit down and make some notes.

Thanks!