The Conservation and Art Materials Dictionary (CAMD) is a digitized dictionary that includes descriptions and technical information about historic and contemporary materials used in the production and conservation treatment of artistic and historic works. CAMD brings together the wide range of materials (pigments, minerals, binders, coatings, adhesives, fibers, dyes, solvents, reagents, woods, surfactants, corrosion inhibitors, pollutants, pest control agents, construction and storage materials, etc.) used by different specializations. It also includes methods and terms used in the analysis and characterization of these materials. While initially conceived as a vehicle for art conservators and conservation scientists, this comprehensive set of information on materials will also be useful to students and professionals in other fields such as art history, architecture, art, design, archaeology and education.
All facts provided in the dictionary are obtained from published sources such as books, articles, manufacturer’s literature, material safety data sheets and web pages. Each entry was selected based on its mention in art, conservation or related scientific literature or its presence in one of several conservation labs. However, the inclusion of a material in the dictionary is not a recommendation for its use in conservation or art and does not mean that the material is or has been used successfully. In fact, some historic materials have been used in treatments or objects with adverse results, such as soluble nylon. Additionally, many of the materials listed are dangerous, deleterious and/or highly toxic, such as the 19th century arsenic insecticides.
Like any dictionary, this information is intended as a short definition of the material and its potential uses. References are included to direct the reader to more specific information about a material and its applications. Prior to any use, it is important to read the MSDS sheets and the further information citations.
Since the field of conservation is constantly growing, new materials and techniques are evaluated continually resulting in many additional information and reference sources. Thus, the dictionary is continuing to expand and be updated, as data become available.
Material Name – This is the prime field for the record in that all other fields serve to define and describe the name field. For a material, the key name entry is the most commonly used (and chemically correct) terminology. For example, isopropyl alcohol is a main entry while isopropanol and 2-propanol are synonyms.
The Following Types of materials and related terms are included in the database:
- materials used in the production, conservation or analysis of historic and artistic
objects and sites, including pure materials (cotton, gold, English oak, peroxide, etc.) as well as processed materials (Tyvek®, Dutch metal, eosin, portland cement, Art-Sorb®, etc.)
- compositional groups (acrylic, oil, alcohol, polymer etc.)
- chemical and physical phenomena (relative humidity, crystallization, absorption, etc.)
- functional classes (abrasive, detergent, scavenger, geotextile, etc.)
- analytical tools (hygrometer, Macbeth booth, infrared spectroscopy, etc.)
- material characterization (crizzling, hardness, tear resistance, etc.)
- selected devices (solander box, smoke detector, air filter, etc.)
Trademarks: Care has been taken to use the correct spelling and punctuation with each of the Trademark and brand name items.
Synonym – Alternative, trivial and archaic names are listed as synonyms. Commonly used synonym names are listed separately and cross-referenced to the key name. Many common misspellings, particularly of brand name materials have also been added since this can otherwise result in failed searches. For example, microballoon now appears in the synonym lists for both microsphere and Micro-Balloon®. Because of the new joint search macro, any name or spelling listed in either the material name field or the synonym field will be included in the search results list.
Description – This field provides a brief description of the material. These entries are not encyclopedic but rather provide a brief but comprehensive technical definition. The general format used for an entry is to first identify the general class of material (fiber, polymer, pesticide, etc.) then identify its primary use or biological source. For a natural product, its native geographical region is listed. Information is supplied about the materials production, manufacturer, historical availability, composition and physical characteristics (appearance, physical state, melting point, volatility, odor, density, crystallinity, refractive index, solubility, strength and hardness, etc.). The entry is followed with a listing of the industrial uses of the material, such as self-stick adhesives, fabric coatings, printing inks, etc. Additionally, specific examples of the material’s conservation uses are listed with accompanying citations. Because of the condensed format for these descriptions, references, such as for review articles, book chapters and books, are included to direct the reader to more specific information about a material and its applications. Eventually, some of the references, such as manufacturer’s web pages and cited JAIC articles will have direct hyperlinks to other web sites on the Internet.
Properties – Some important chemical and physical properties for the materials have been extracted from the text and entered in a tabular form for easier reference and comparison. These are:
- Composition – the chemical formula is supplied for pure chemical compounds.
- Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CAS) – This universally used number is included for specific compound identification regardless of its name or synonyms. CAS numbers also aid in the retrieval of information from some computerized databases such as Hazardous Materials Database.
- Melting point, Boiling point, and density – The Merck Index has served as the primary standard for these values with the Condensed Chemical Dictionary as the secondary reference. For solid materials, it has been assumed that specific gravity values are equivalent to density and have, in some cases, been entered as such. All densities have the units of g/cc (grams per cubic centimeter) for solids and g/L (grams per liter) for liquids unless otherwise stated.
- Additional information, such as Mohs hardness, refractive index, moisture regain,
tenacity and elongation, is also entered when available.
- Solubility – separated into Soluble, Slightly soluble and Insoluble for most cases.
However, some materials have lists of chemicals that are unreactive or reactive.
Hazards – Information on safety factors is included such as flammability, explosion risk, carcinogenicity and toxicity. However, this can not be considered an authoritative source on all hazards. The MSDS sheet should be read prior to the use of any product.
Further Information – Because of the condensed format for these descriptions, references are cited for literature sources that provide more extensive information. The citations are limited to one or two references that provide current information about the material, its application and characteristics of use.
Units – A pull-up table has been incorporated to provide the full text for all abbreviations and units. It is readily accessible from any entry page in the database.