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Evaluating Color and Fading of Red-Shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus cafer) Feathers: Technical and Cultural Considerations

Pearlstein, Ellen and Keene, Lionel (2010) Evaluating Color and Fading of Red-Shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus cafer) Feathers: Technical and Cultural Considerations. Studies in Conservation, 55 (2). pp. 81-94. ISSN 0039-3630.

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Fading behavior of undyed feathers has not received much attention in conservation literature and as a result feathers are categorized with other natural materials as being fugitive to display lighting, based on anecdotal evidence. The authors investigated Red-shafted Flicker feathers, which have carotenoid-based colorant systems and significance in North American native regalia, to demonstrate how lighting guidelines could be informed by a multivariate approach that considers material sensitivity, properties of value, and use before entering a museum collection. Ornithological literature reviewed demonstrates that feathers are highly differentiated in their sources of coloration, which include chemistry, structure, diet, age and,gender, all resulting in varying responses to illumination. The authors explore the value placed on color by original fabricators, and how use and attitudes toward color contribute to the collections for which we assume stewardship. Red-shafted Flicker feathers were exposed to equivalent photometric doses in order to compare results from window-fading and microfading to Blue Wool Standards. Results indicate color changes more stable than Blue Wool 1 and 2, with ultraviolet radiation playing a significant role in fading. Microfading is beneficial for measuring color change because the variability within and between feathers is eliminated as the sample site remains unvaried.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© 2010 Earthscan. Received September 2009. This work owes a large debt of gratitude to Jim Druzik, Senior Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute. for supporting this work with lab resources and deep interest. The authors would also like to thank the editor for the article who made countless excellent suggestions. Ellen Pearlstein would like to thank Gifford James. Frank Tuttle, Brian Bibby and especially Frank La Pena for their generous sharing of information about flicker feathers, as well as Kirsten Kvam, Nancy Rosoff, Lisa Bruno, Judith Levinson, Vuka Russakis, Laila Williamson, Angela McGrew, Özge Gençay-Üstün, Jane Williams and Natasha Johnson for access to collections. Thomas Wake generously provided the feathers used in this study, Vincent Beltran calculated the photometric dose for window-fading, and Lucette Landry delivered transmission data for the window used for the fading study.
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Getty Conservation InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100909-110042561
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:19846
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Sep 2010 23:01
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:02

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