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Case studies using Pemulen gel

Page history last edited by Nancie Ravenel 14 years ago

At Shelburne Museum, the gel is applied with a small flat brush and then gently agitated.  It is wiped from the surface using cotton wadding or a cotton swab and then cleared with a two-step process.  The first step is to clear the surface using a buffer with the same pH as the gel on cotton swabs and the second step is to clear the surface with deionized water on cotton swabs.


This two step clearing method was introduced due to concerns over an assertion in Noveon product literature that "waterproof emulsions can easily be prepared"

Case study 1

Dentzel carousel giraffe (oil paint on wood)

FC-7.9 Collection of Shelburne Museum

Please refer to the How to make the gel page for information on gel preparation.

Cleaning tests key giraffe.pdf


During her cleaning tests to remove maintenence linseed oil from the painted surface on a Dentzel carousel giraffe, Laura Brill found that the Pemulen emulsion prepared with triethanolamine and benzyl alcohol to be too agressive.  She started experimenting with using the Pemulen gel without the addition of solvent and found that it was effective in ways that the aqueous Carbopol gels had not been.  She felt that the Pemulen gel was working to emulsify the linseed oil off of the painted surface to a greater extent than the Carbopol gel (some of the possible mechanisms are described on p. 56 Cleaning Painted Surfaces).

 Case study 2

Dentzel carousel horse (oil paint on wood)

FC-7.35 Collection of Shelburne Museum


2008052492 Appendixcarouselhorse.pdf

Lauren Bradley's Appendix summarizes her various cleaning tests with Pemulen gels and Pemulen emulsions to remove maintenance linseed oil from various paint colors in a table format.  Lauren experimented with formulating a very gentle version of the gel, using mostly 2% TRIS in deionized water and a small amount of TEA as the base in her formulation.  She also experimented with mixing the Pemulen gel with ethanol.  Despite these tests, most of the cleaning was undertaken with Pemulen gels made either with TEA or a 1:1 mixture of TEA and 2% TRIS in deionized water.

Case study 3

Dentzel carousel horse (oil paint on wood)

FC-7.6, Collection of Shelburne Museum

2545 Dentzel Carousel Horse Louisa Report.pdf

2545 Dentzel Carousel Horse Louisa Appendix2.pdf

Diana Dan Larrabee's Appendix summerizes her various cleaning tests with Pemulen gels and Pemulen emulsions to remove maintenance linseed oil form various paint colors in table format. Diana also added photographs of her cleaning tests to her tables. Diana experimented with using ethanol mixed into a Pemulen gel with a mixture of 2% TRIS and TEA as the base in her formulation. Diana generally found that a Pemulen gel with ethanol added to it was a more aggressive cleaning agent than a Pemulen emulsion formulated with 2% TRIS, TEA, and benzyl alcohol.

A gel of 1% w/v Pemulen TR-2 in deionized water at a pH of 6 was tested to see if it could remove fingerprints from a beeswax-coated acrylic- and acrylic emulsion- painted surface on a work by Bernard Cohen, Painting with Three Spots: One Blue and Two Yellow (1970), Tate Collection T01538.  The gel is described as having been applied with a cotton swab and cleared with deionized water. The gel appeared to remove the grey appearance without altering the surface coating or paint. This painting was the fifth and final case study of the Tate AXA Modern Paints Project (TAAMPP).


The case study is described more fully in TAAMPP_newsletter_6_November2009.pdf, page 2-3.


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