What we treat, and how we go about it

We treat a very wide range of objects. They are made from many different materials, and date from Roman, Egyptian or even Neolithic times, to the present day. The objects may be badly damaged, and require extensive treatment, or only need small amounts of treatment to improve their condition. They may be in a good condition, but need to be prepared for display.

The aim of the treatments depends on the object’s condition, and how it is to be used. We discuss the options available with the client so the most suitable outcome can be reached. The aim of the treatment may be to make the item safe to handle, stable for storage, or presentable for display. The treatment may help study and interpretation of the object. The Studio has access to excellent analytical facilities that may be required to identify materials.

The three partners of The Scottish Conservation Studio specialize in the treatment of different types of objects.

  • Tuula Pardoe is our textile conservator. She treats objects that range from small fabric samples, embroidered textiles and lace, to costume and their accessories; and from domestic, furnishing, religious and military textiles to large banners, flags and wall-hangings.
  • Helen Creasy is our paper and photographs conservator. The objects she treats include miniatures, prints, drawings, watercolours, and posters; letters and documents, maps and plans, tracing papers and parchments; and all types photographic prints and negatives.
  • Will Murray is our artefacts conservator. He treats objects of many different materials, including metals, stone, plaster, ceramics, glass, wood, leather, bone, wax and plastics. Object types include archaeological finds, social history, arms and armour, and coins and medals.

We welcome the opportunity to treat objects made of a number of different materials, when we can work together and share our expertise in a treatment.

The Studio is spacious which allows us to treat large objects and sizeable collections. When objects cannot be moved because of their size, or because they are too fragile, we are happy to work on site.

We have full professional insurance. As a matter of good practice we ask clients to arrange, or ensure the continuation of, cover through their own insurers so that they are fully protected against any risks that may affect their property while it is in our care. We are happy to provide copies of our insurance policy where required. The studio is very secure; we can supply details of our security arrangements on request.

Before we treat any object we always assess the object, discuss possible outcomes with the client, and then write a report that contains a condition report, a treatment proposal, and a cost estimate. We may charge for this step if the object is complex or large, or there are many of them and the examination takes more than a few hours. We never start a treatment until we have written approval from a client.

If plans for a treatment have to be changed after it has been started, perhaps as a result of discoveries made during the first part of the treatment, we will always consult with the client to discuss the next steps. At the end of a treatment we write a treatment report which details what was done, what materials were used, and what changes were made to the object. It will also describe the best way to look after the object in the future.

We have photos taken before and after treatment, and sometimes during the treatment too, to document the changes that are being made. A professional photographer comes to the Studio to take many of the photos. Through this service we can easily arrange for specialist photographic products such as black and white or colour prints, large format colour negatives, etc, where required. We are also always able to supply digital images that are of a quality to be used in exhibition catalogues and so on.

Our work is always guided by the code of ethics and professional guidelines of ICON, the Institute of Conservation. ICON is the professional body of most conservators in the UK, and we are each accredited members of it. Our treatments will stabilize the object in the long term, and where possible are reversible. Every object carries signs of its history; we respect its authenticity, and avoid unnecessary interference.

And the results of a treatment? Depending on the object-type, its damage, its use, and the aims of the client, an object may undergo very little visual difference in a treatment. For other objects it might be appropriate, and possible, for them to look ‘good as new’ as the result of a treatment. If you have an object you are concerned about please do get in touch with us to discuss how we might be able to help.

For example of treatments we have done please look at our Case Studies