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News Student Blog: Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services

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Surface cleaning the photograph prior to washing and refixing. (Image by Johanna Pinney.)

My third-year internship has been spent working in a busy private practice in Kansas City—Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services, LLC—where I just finished treating a unique portrait photograph of Nancy Heugh under the guidance of my supervisor Tom Edmondson. From the initial examination to the final report, I loved this project. It checked off every box for me in terms of what I wanted to do this year, but for the sake of brevity, here are the top three reasons why I enjoyed it so much.

1. It allowed me to get to know Tom and Nancy more and learn about their journeys into conservation. The photograph I treated depicted Nancy pre-program, posed on the edge of a bowling ball return carousel at Woodland Lanes bowling alley in Woodland, California. The picture was taken for a local newspaper to highlight her as employee of the month. As the project moved forward Tom, Nancy, and I shared our thoughts on pre-program life and all of the people who helped us get to where we are today. I learned that mentoring students has always been a large and cherished part of Tom and Nancy’s journey. Their commitment to teaching has become one of the things that I admire the most about them.  

2. It gave me an opportunity to utilize my printing skills while also learning to perform refixing with a pioneer photograph conservator. Refixing is a chemical treatment that aims to stabilize and aesthetically improve a photographic print by removing a specific type of overall discoloration due to poor processing. In the print of Nancy, the unexposed, light-sensitive salts and other chemicals were not completely removed during processing and the residual chemistry manifested as orange-yellow discoloration. My decision to propose chemical treatment on this photograph was not made lightly. It was supported by an in-depth examination of the print, research on print chemistry and processing, and an open discussion with the owner (Nancy). In addition, Tom shared his refixing experience with me in great detail as well as reference materials from the 1999 Kent Workshop on chemical treatment at the studio of José Orraca, another pioneer of photograph conservation. It was humbling to discover these complex procedures and philosophies established twenty years ago(!) by my elders. One of the documents was a useful reference for decision making because it highlighted the ethical considerations and arguments for/against chemical treatments.

​Left: The photograph before and after treatment. Right: The print immersed in a photo-grade fixing solution. (Images by Amber Kehoe.)

​Detail of the photograph before and after treatment. (Images by Amber Kehoe.)

3. It inspired me to think about the possibility of using before and after images to discern and assess color change in refixing treatments. Tom, Nancy, and I agreed that this treatment was a success. The orange-yellow discoloration was nearly gone, and there was no visible decrease in the image density. Under magnification, the silver image material appeared unchanged. The print was stabilized, but as expected, the image tone changed from warm yellow to cool white. I realized the shift was also amplified by the fact that the image was a halftone composed of small, regularly-spaced, silver dots. All of the white space between the dots was no longer yellow, which made the print appear brighter overall. Looking back, I might have been able to estimate what the print was going to look like by removing the yellow cast in the before treatment images. Going forward, I hope to further develop my Photoshop skills to include digital restoration.

— Amber Kehoe, WUDPAC Class of 2019

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2019 Fellow Amber Kehoe shares the top three reasons why she enjoyed her internship at Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services in Kansas City.

In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2019 Fellow Amber Kehoe shares the top three reasons why she enjoyed her internship at Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services in Kansas City.

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489