More than meets the eye: fun with a nifty gadget

Fine Arts Conservation recently acquired a wonderful new tool for use both in our studio and in the field: a portable digital microscope camera that connects to a laptop’s USB port and takes fairly good quality images. It’s a Dino-Lite Pro model AM413T with 1.3 M (1280 x 1024) resolution, and it’s surprisingly affordable at less than $400, software included. Many other models are available, but it seemed this one with a magnification range of 10x – 220x would be most useful for documentation purposes. We are loving it so much that I just had to share some images we captured of various things in the studio. The first is of the old familiar deteriorated leather panel we’ve been discussing.

an area showing leather deterioration from the painted leather panel we're working on; this is what red rot looks like (untreated) at 200x magnification.

Below are some fibers from another object we treated recently:

probably silk or silk/cotton blend fibers surrounding a leather cord on a hackamore at 50x magnification

same fibers at 150x

Just for fun, I did a comparison of my own hair with that from a horse’s mane. I forgot to note the magnification, so they may not both be exactly the same (horsehair is at 200x).

not wires, but the hair on my head

vs. horsehair

Next are some images of a lacquer object with mother-of-pearl inlay at two different magnifications…

50x

200x - you can see the animal glue used to adhere the m-o-p inlay

…and now a painted paper-based object depicting a pop culture TV hero that little kids looked up to in the 50′s – 60′s (of course you can’t tell that from the image, and you’re probably left wondering just who this superstar might be. Sorry, TBD in a future post).

a cracked area of a painted 6-ply paper board object, 200x

Here are some silver glass beads from a costume my colleague Cara Varnell and our mutual summer intern Allison King are working on…

A string of glass beads, 50x

The microscope has another great function–it can be used to take measurements in various units, including millimeters and micrometers. In the example below, Allison was just playing around with the measurement tool in the Dino Capture 2.0 software, trying to measure the thickness of the glass; because we didn’t record the exact magnification, it may not be entirely accurate (but probably fairly close)…

the edge of a broken glass bead with thickness measurements noted, ~200x


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Filed under Leather conservation, more than meets the eye