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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Flashing CementApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2016-11-30 05:51:35 ... Most recent comment 2016-11-30 09:12:00
    Industrial and Non-Traditional Products
    I recently watched a video, on New York Academy of Art Facebook Page. Vicent Desiderio is using flashing cement in his work. I guess the reasoning being it is made to withstand harsh weather conditions, heat and cold. This must have some pit falls, even though he produces remarkably evocative beautiful work. Can this be considered a safe material to work with? Thanks, Steven Lewis

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerCan you be a bit more specific as to how this material is being used in the artwork?
    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2016-11-30 09:16:54
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerHi Steve. We have to think of the technique described in the video as experimental. We certainly have a long recorded history of artist searching for effects or working properties outside of the accepted practice. da Vinci, and Turner come to mind. It is not our job as conservators to tell artists what they can or cannot use. Our aim with this forum to let artists know of materials and techniques that are generally accepted to be more stable. We hope that artists who are looking to create a specific effect will ask us what materials will achieve the intended effect AND be stable over time. We also hope that artists working with materials that are known or are expected to have preservation issues, would record exactly what they used on the back (or bottom, etc) so that future conservators can use this information in their treatment protocol. Unfortunately, not all artwork will have the benefit of being worked on by a conservator if it develops problems in the future. Additionally, artwork that does not carry a high resale value may not be stored in the best of conditions making it more likely that it will deteriorate over time. Vincent is a highly esteemed painter who executes really beautiful paintings. The materials and techniques described in the video may create future conservation issues, especially if they are stored in less than optimal environments. The prestige and value of Mr. Desiderio's painting mean that they are far more likely to be carefully cared for, and if conservation problem develop, be treated by a trained conservator, than the works by the majority of artists working today.
    Baade, Brian
    2016-11-30 14:51:43
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerI just looked at the video on FB. Yes indeed his works are beautiful...but from a conservation perspective there are many issues at play. He lists the following as his materials: Flashmaster Flashing Cement, Shellac, Japan Drier, Modeling Paste (it is difficult to know what this product actually consists of), Turpenoid (even though he says that he wishes he brought turpentine...which makes much more sense as Turpenoid would do little to dissolve these products), and Rustoleum. The latter is a brand name used for many, many products so it is unclear which product he is using in this instance. The main concerns here are the flashing cement, the drier and even the use of shellac (using too much of the latter can cause cracking and embrittlement). HOWEVER there is no oil medium listed as it seems he is mixing the flashing cement directly into the modeling paste (could be alkyd, could be acrylic) so who knows how the additions of drier and shellac would function over a long-term flashing cement contains petroleum-based products mixing into an acrylic modeling paste would be difficult to achieve and also not recommended....but from the video it seems as it is blending fairly well with the cement so it may not be acrylic after all. Also if you are using flashing cement straight out of the can USE PROTECTION as this product can off-gas fairly noxious fumes for over a 24 hour period even after application. This brings me to the pigment used in this case....which is essentially pure bitumen. If you research this pigment you will read about the problematic properties associated with this dark-brown colorant. It basically never driers and will continue to "move" and migrate throughout paint layers over time. Again if this pigment is suspended in a shellac-acrylic mixture who knows what will happen as that has not really been studied. And I suspect the Rustoleum product here is to be used as a final topcoat (or perhaps the shellac) is as well. We would not really recommend either as final varnishes. But again while the combination of all these problematic, incompatible materials seems like a preservation disaster his works are quite lovely....if I could speak with him directly I would simply ask that he record what he is using and how is using these materials on the back of his work so that conservators might now how best to care for his pieces in the future. I recommend reading #13 on our "Myths, FAQs, and Common Misconceptions" document under the Resources section for our stance on industrial products used for fine art purposes. Until more research and testing can be done it is probably safer to steer clear from some of these products intended for outdoor (and even indoor) use.
    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2016-11-30 21:05:24

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
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  • University of Delaware
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