From Textiles to Lacquer

Published on: Author: sarahfoskett Leave a comment

Dr Jing Han, Professional Fellow, Getty Conservation Institute (GCI).

After completing my doctorate at the CTCTAH last year, specialising in the identification of textile dyestuffs, a couple of months ago I came to the GCI and began to do research on lacquer.

The chemical characterisation of lacquer, especially Asian lacquer, is very challenging as it is hardly soluble in solvents and the composition is extremely complex. During the last 10 years, scientists and conservators from the Getty Conservation Center working on the Characterization of Asian and European Lacquer project have developed a very innovative methodology for the sampling and analysis of the organic components of lacquer as part of their, which achieved increased sensitivity and a wider range of detectable compounds 

As the lacquer research enters the next stage, I am very honoured to join this excellent team and cooperate with fellows in different countries to carry out research on the degradation and cleaning of lacquer. My primary task is to characterise the chemical components of various lacquer samples. The main analytical technique I will use is liquid chromatography coupled with diode array detector and mass spectrometry (LC-DAD-MS). Does it sound familiar? Absolutely. The knowledge, skills and insights I obtained during my doctoral research at the CTCTAH provide a solid foundation for this work.

During the first few weeks I have been learning lacquer analysis and grasping the use of mass spectrometry, a base from which I will be able to explore the unknown. Challenging but exciting!

In addition, I still have textiles in mind for sure, and have already learned about a wonderful dyestuff collection here at the GCI. I will also have more chances to communicate with textile researchers, curators and conservators in the US. the future is full of potentials….

Testing standard lacquer components by LC-DAD-MS © J. Paul Getty Trust. 

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