Practical leather conservation
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About the Course
Photo features Theo Sturge teaching students at the Institut fur Konservierung-Restaurierung, Akademie der bildenden Kunste, Vienna.
Please note this course is suitable only for museum workers or those who have undertaken a conversation degree.
An introductory course to some of the techniques more commonly used in leather conservation. The course will include theory and practical; mornings will be mainly theory and afternoons mainly practical. Case studies will be
included when there is spare time. The course will aim to provide participants with a range of techniques for use on a wide variety of leather artefacts.
Topics to be covered include:
Methods of repair, including the choice of repair material and adhesive, and hints and tips on getting the best results. Repairing materials including leather, and woven and non-woven fabrics will be considered. Adhesives such as the Lascaux acrylics, Evacon-R, Beva 371 and wheat starch paste will be discussed. Their method of application and the control of drying will be examined.
Gap filling with Beva 371, leather, Japanese tissue paper etc.
Surface finishes and dressings.
Humidification to allow reshaping.
Dying leather and toning in areas of damage to match the colour surrounding colour.
Basic testing of leather.
Leather working techniques. This will include skiving with an English knife (once you have learnt to do it you will never use a scalpel again), basic saddle stitching with two needles, and skived joints.
Making a piece of gilt leather (beware, this can be very addictive and take up all your time!).
Some detailed practical features of the course include:
Moulding your gilt leather
(This should really be done after varnishing, but this is a short cut)
Cut the leather to fit the mould. Spray the back of the leather to humidify it - not too much -
damp not wet. Place in mould and press tight with cramps. Leave for about 20 minutes.
Take it out with care, the silver may have stuck to the mould (it should really have longer
than 1 day to dry). Leave to dry.
Varnishing gilt leather
Add a little bitumen paint to the varnish to make it yellow, and paint it
over the silver. Leave to dry. The more bitumen you use the deeper the colour, try it on the
edge of your silver before applying it.
Gap filling with solid Beva
First try the gap in the plain leather. Melt the Beva in with a
heated spatula. Finish with silicone paper laid over the Beva. Then try screwing up the paper
and ironing this on - it will give a less smooth effect. If time, try and impress a pattern with
silicone rubber that has been moulded from a leather surface, this requires a lot of heat to get
it to go through the silicone rubber.
Use the colour triangles and the Sellaset dyes to try and match the colour of a sample of
leather. The dye is expensive, use the syringes to accurately mix small amounts. Try not to
contaminate the colours - wash the syringe between each colour. Try the dye on different
leathers, you may get a different colour.
About Theo Sturge
Theo Sturge is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation (FIIC), an Accredited Member of the Institute of Conservation (ACR). He has over 38 years experience of conservation and restoration in both the public and private sector.
Having trained in conservation at the Institute of Archaeology, London University, he worked in Antiquities Conservation for 16 years at Leicester Museum, then in Conservation and Restoration at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
As Senior Conservator at the Leather Conservation Centre, Theo Sturge evolved specialised methods for work on items as diverse as car seats and painted gilt leather wall hangings and screens. He set up his own business, the Sturge Conservation Studio, in 2000.
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above. The voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
Course fee includes all materials, tea, coffee and lunch. Accommodation is available locally at additional cost.