Science. Communication. Community.
Not enough emphasis can be put on the fact that there is no universal print stripper — Rubin M. Operowsky, speaking at the 1954 Convention of the American Electroplaters’ Society
Jiamei Tian’s recent paint spraying spree in DC raised many questions. Who is she? What was she thinking? And, if you’re like me, how exactly does one unpaint an important object?
Like many somewhat-esoteric conundrums, defense and aerospace researchers seem to be the main people investigating paint removal. And what struck me, as I perused several recent studies online, is how many exotic ways there are to separate paint from its perch. Here, for instance, is a potpourri of approaches I plucked from a 2011 University of Dayton chemical engineering thesis by Ebenezer Nyarko:
So what have conservators been using to save DC’s landmarks? According to Chemical & Engineering News, the National Cathedral’s conservators are keeping mum about their chemical choices. And it appears the National Park Service is no more forthcoming. But the Smithsonian – that science-loving institution – didn’t shy from C&EN’s questions. After testing out toluene and denatured alcohol, Carol Grissom, Senior Objects Conservator at the museum, went with good old paint thinner.