5 Conservation Tools We Can't Live Without

Paul Messier LLC has been in business for over 25 years. Like any other profession, conservators compile a dedicated tool set that assist them in the care and preservation of numerous works of art. Below is the Paul Messier conservator's and studio photographer's top 5 tools found in their toolkit.

AIC PhD Target

manufactured by Robin Myers Imaging

Before the conservation treatment begins, the studio photographer must document the condition of the object. These AIC Photo Documentation Targets comply with the recommended practices for photographic documentation described in the AIC Guideline for Practice. They are extremely useful in any photo documentation studio, making white balancing, standardizing exposures and lighting a cinch.

Metal Spatula

similar instrument available at Talas

The conservators spatula is used for just about everything, from lifting layers, consolidating flaking gelatin, and dabbing in spots of adhesive. Each spatula is shaped by it's user through meticulous sanding of the metal blade. You can imagine why it is such a significant part of the conservators toolbox with it's versatility and personal attention!

Composite Filling Instrument

similar instrument available at Talas

This tool comes straight from Karina's kit, "Every Russian conservator's most utilized hand tool is this small stainless steel dentistry spatula. Usually referred to as Lapka (“tiny paw”), it can be used in many ways: to smooth out fills and mends, pick up tiny amounts of fill, apply adhesive, or get into any delicate and damaged area: its 90 degree little “paw” can do it all.

Air Blower

similar instrument available at Gaylord Archival

We have air blowers at the studio in all different shapes and sizes (including one that looks like a small rocket). Whether it's removing dust from the surface of a photograph, or the painstaking work of resealing a daguerreotype, these little air puffers come in serious handy.

Small Weights

similar weights available at Talas

We have a variety of small and not-so-small weights (35 pounder, anyone?) in the studio but these are our favorites. They were hand made by conservators Laura Shell and Christina Finlayson out of soft cloth and fine lead shot. We like them because they are soft and conform to irregular surfaces.


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