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Testing the Effectiveness of a Novel Treatment for Denatured Leather and Skin Materials

  • Author(s): Hagemeyer, Mari Elizabeth Guarnieri
  • Advisor(s): Pearlstein, Ellen J
  • et al.
Abstract

Skin and hide materials such as leather and rawhide are prone to deterioration through a process known as denaturation, which involves the disordering of collagen molecules given sufficient free water and heat. Denaturation has no conservation treatment currently recorded in the literature; therefore, an experimental treatment was devised using catechin. This treatment was compared against other treatments currently in use for deteriorated leather. Samples were aged, treated, and examined using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and fiber optic reflective spectroscopy (FORS). Analysis showed that on average, catechin-treated samples had improved properties compared to the control and the other treatments. Furthermore, the catechin treatment was less hazardous to the conservator and caused fewer side effects in the material than the other treatments. Therefore, the experimental treatment is considered a promising candidate for further research and possible future use. However, more study is needed to confirm these preliminary results.

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