CONSERVATION MATERIALS

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Conservation Colors for the 21st century

Gamblin Conservation Colors are stable, reversible and suitable for use with a wide array of painting styles and techniques. Their innovative low molecular weight resin binder also makes Gamblin Conservation Colors safer to use in the studio, due to their low solvent requirements.

In 1994, Robert Gamblin was invited to join a small team consisting of Rene de la Rie, Mark Leonard, and Jill Whitten who were working on developing a new kind of conservation color from lightfast, permanent materials with enhanced working and aging properties that included: stability, safety of use, and quality of manufacture. The research team observed that making paints by hand-grinding resulted in a somewhat coarse, glossy paint which lacked the smooth paste consistency of commercially prepared paints.

Conservation colors are made from an aldehyde resin, a low molecular weight resin binder that has better optical properties and better handling properties than paints based on polymeric resin. Aldehyde resins are a more appropriate binder than some other low molecular weight resins because they are slightly polar and wet pigments more easily. Accelerated age testing was done at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. on the raw materials and the finished paints. Once the binder was accepted, the team agreed that the new paints should be fairly lean and slightly matte. Viscosity and sheen could be easily altered by adding binder.

Robert Gamblin produced four trial batches of paint to establish correct pigment/binder ratios for smooth brushing and easy reducibility with medium. Conservators in North America and England participated in testing. During the initial test phase the new Gamblin paints were used for retouching on more than one hundred treatments from Trecento Italian to 20th century paintings. Gamblin Conservation Colors have proven useful for all techniques of inpainting including glazing. The paints have good covering power and little change in color when dry.


Primary Qualities of Gamblin Conservation Colors

Stable Resin - Draw downs have been aged 3000 hours in a weatherometer (equal to approximately 62 years of museum light exposure). The samples retained their solubility in mild solvents, showing that the resin is stable upon aging.

Fully saturated color - the high refractive index of the resin leads to colors as saturated as aged oil colors.

Low solvent requirements - Because the aldehyde resin is soluble in solvents of low polarity, you can greatly lower your exposure to strong solvents while retouching paintings. If at any time in the future it is necessary to remove the color it will redissolve in mild solvents, to help protect the original work.

All colors lightfast - only pigments of highest lightfastness are used (including modern substitutes for Alizarin Crimson, Indian Yellow, Sap Green, Van Dyke Brown, and Brown Madder)

Excellent working properties - we have applied our 30+ years of artist paint manufacturing experience to these colors, so that their working properties facilitate your work of retouching rather than make it more difficult.

Convenient size - all colors available in 15 ml, ½ Pan and 175 ml jars.