‘The Thinker’ Casting Using RTV Silicone Mould

By Kaori Arakaki Casting is one of our projects in the metalwork conservation department and we have been making room temperature vulcanized (RTV) silicone moulds, sand casts and lost wax casts. This post is about a casting side project using RTV silicone. Each casting method is used for different purposes. RTV silicone moulds are usually … Continue reading

A books student shows us the manuscript she’s focusing on for her thesis.


By Roger Williams On the trip’s fourth day (see parts I and II), we stumbled—beaten and broken by long days of walking around Paris—to a West Dean sister school of sorts: L’Institut national du patrimoine: Département des restaurateurs, in Aubervilliers (Translation: the National Institute of Cultural Heritage: Conservation Department). The INP has two main departments, … Continue reading


Tensile Testing of Leather

By Avery Bazemore In our first semester, we are meant to design and carry out an experiment using our materials testing equipment. I immediately thought of a quote from the well-regarded researcher Betty Haines in the well-regarded book The Fibre Structure of Leather that claims that when “the thickness [of a piece of goatskin] had … Continue reading


Book students in Paris – Day 2: Private Practice

By Jess Hyslop On our second day of the Paris Study Tour, we bookies turned our attention from public institutions to private practice. We visited two private studios during the day, where the conservators were very patient in letting us poke around and answering all of our questions. The first studio we visited was ‘Ex … Continue reading

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Raising a Lidded Vessel

By Esmé Tanner If you haven’t already heard the metals department and our noisy silversmithing attempts then here is a quick reminder. Starting with a large copper disk we have been annealing, pickling, caulking, bougeing and planishing to raise a lidded vessel in the style of the Mérode cup, which is currently in collection at … Continue reading

Paris Group Photo 1

Study Tour to Paris: Part I

By Tiffany Eng It is Monday the 16th of March, and the conservation students of West Dean are up bright and early for a very special occasion. It’s the day we leave for the Paris Study Trip! Full of nervous excitement, we receive our packed lunches from the lovely kitchen staff and wait in the college … Continue reading

Figure 4: Reference pictures before treatment—unfolding bundles.

Stretch it Out ! Or, How to Flatten Parchment Bundles

By Cécilia Duminuco This blogpost was written with permission of the Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford. During my postgraduate work placement in the Oxford Conservation Consortium, I worked on various projects and with diverse materials like paper, leather, and parchment. Before going in the Oxford Conservation Consortium, I had only little experience with … Continue reading

A view of the painted dial and automata

Pyke Organ Clock Project: Treating the Dial and Automata

By Jonathon Kelly This is next instalment in a series of posts on the conservation work and historical research on the George Pyke Organ Clock at West Dean College in 2014. The Pyke Clock is now working again and back on permanent display at Temple Newsam House in Leeds, England. This post is the second of … Continue reading

Figure 6: Small suture before it was pasted down on the verso of the manuscript.

Jane Austen Fragment Part 3—Binding, Mount and Box

By Jen Anderson, Snow Fain, and Tiffany Eng After cleaning and removing the handwritten fragment from the Jane Austen manuscript, there were several more things that remained to do, before returning the book to the Jane Austen’s House Museum. Each of the following sections describes a part of the project that was completed by several … Continue reading


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