The Use of Chelating Agents in Paper Conservation

March 27 – 29, 2018
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Instructors: Antoinette Dwan and Chris Stavroudis
Organizer: Susan Roberts-Manganelli


Stains cannot only obscure information on paper materials, but may also be an indication of chemical processes that could eventually cause even further damage. Due to the complex origins of paper discoloration and staining, conservators need numerous materials and procedures to address disfiguring elements on artwork and research materials. Metals in paper, such as contaminants, whether brought in environmentally or intentionally included in the paper pulp, are problematic from a preservation point of view, and can initiate many disfiguring stains. Chelating provides a tool to treat stained paper artifacts in a more targeted fashion than typical bleaching options.


This workshop looks beyond the bleaching treatments often used to address cellulose degradation resulting in visible staining, and focuses on the use of solutions based on citric acid and DPTA (diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid) to reduce discoloration caused by pollution, grime, or paper additives and accidental inclusions. With lectures that cover chelating agents and buffers combined with three days of hands-on treatment exercises, participants will explore methods to reduce discoloration in paper in the form of foxing, mat burn, and other types of staining. Participants will leave the workshop with an understanding of the theories and practices for incorporating chelating agents into treatments as well as practical experience in using chelating agents for common paper conservation problems.


The fee for this course is $750 AIC members; $950 non-AIC members. Limited to 20 participants.

This program is designed for mid-career, practicing conservators. The workshop organizers encourage participation from paper conservators who have little knowledge of chelating agents, but who do have significant experience in the treatment of paper and an understanding of chemistry related to paper conservation.

To participate in this program, individuals must complete a brief application. Applicants will be asked to upload a resume or CV and provide a statement about their readiness to participate in the workshop. Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis until the course is full. The review process is meant to help ensure that participants have appropriate experience for the workshop.

Click here to apply to participate in the workshop

About the Instructors

  • Antoinette Dwan is a conservator of works of art on paper. She holds a M.S. in Art Conservation from the University of of Delaware, as well as a M.A. Art History from UC Davis and a BA in English & Art from UC Berkeley.
  • Chris Stavroudis is a private paintings conservator in Los Angeles. He obtained undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Art History from the University of Arizona and his Master’s degree from the University of Delaware/Winterthur conservation program in 1983. He developed the Modular Cleaning Program and teaches workshops on using the MCP. He is also one of the instructors for the GCI-sponsored Cleaning Acrylic Paint Surfaces (CAPS) workshops.

Scholarship Funding

FAIC/NEH Individual Professional Development Scholarships
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, FAIC offers scholarships up to $1,000 to help defray professional development costs for individual members of AIC who are U.S. residents. Applications for funding are due February 15. Note: Scholarship applicants may not be notified of their award status prior to this workshop.


Donate to FAIC

  Without support, the registration fee for this workshop would be $1,350. FAIC
  relies on your contributions to support these and its many other programs.

Funding for this program comes from  a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding comes from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Endowment for Professional Development, which was created by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is supported by donations from members of the American Institute for Conservation and its friends. Courses are made possible with the assistance of many AIC members, but no AIC membership dues were used to create or present this course.

Contact: Sarah Saetren
Education Coordinator