We take a closer look at freelancing in conservation: being a scalpel for hire! We cover topics such as clever tool hacks, the pros and cons of going solo, and how the types of clients affect the work you do. We share our own experiences and chat about how you can brush up on your business skills. Also tune in for interviews with two other freelance conservators: Nigel Larkin and Sally Woodcock.
00:00:30 Conservation perfumes – can it be?!
00:05:55 What would a scent called ‘The Conservator’ smell like?
00:06:35 Jenny’s been to a wax conference
00:09:45 Kloe and the Manchester suffragette banner
00:11:45 Our experiences of freelancing
00:20:30 Are specialists more likely to be freelancers?
00:23:34 Conservation companies: employees vs. one-man-bands
00:25:40 Sub-contracting and working together
00:26:30 Workload and pace of commercial jobs
00:29:10 Freelancer, consultant, or independent conservator?
00:31:16 Benefits of working with other freelancers
00:33:25 Tool hacks!
00:36:15 Do freelancers feel isolated?
00:38:20 How do people get started as freelancers?
00:39:00 What are the perks? And the big challenges?
00:47:14 Health and safety, insurance, and accounting
00:50:20 Pricing your work and charging for your time
00:53:20 How do you keep up with your CPD and training? Can you brush up on your business skills?
00:56:00 Advice from freelancers
01:00:57 Interview with Nigel Larkin (natural history and geology conservator)
01:12:32 Interview with Sally Woodcock (paintings conservator)
01:29:30 Comments, questions, and corrections: controlled drugs in collections and asbestos training
01:34:20 Patreon shoutout!
We’re talking education and learning with guest host Jane Henderson from Cardiff University. We discuss what universities might look for in an applicant, the challenges of teaching conservation, and what makes a good internship. How did the four of us find conservation and what did we do before all this? What do employers expect from graduates? Kloe also reviews ‘Conservation of Featherwork from Central and South America.’
00:01:10 How can you become a conservator?
00:02:01 The previous lives and backgrounds of conservators
00:05:42 How we found conservation
00:15:06 Career days at school somehow never include conservators…
00:18:19 How important is science and chemistry when you apply to a degree programme? What else is important when you’re applying?
00:25:12 How do we assess graduates?
00:26:56 The importance of internships and placements for learning
00:34:08 What do we wish we could teach but can’t?
00:36:34 What do hosts and employers want from graduates?
00:39:57 Whose responsibility is education?
00:42:13 What role does conservation research have? Are PhD’s useful?
00:47:03 Craft skills: are they priorities or not? Can they be taught?
00:52:46 Don’t be afraid of mistakes – learn from them!
00:57:22 Introducing ’Dear Jane’
00:57:40 Review: Conservation of Featherwork from Central and South America
01:02:30 Comments, questions, corrections: a note on demographics in the US
Today we tackle the hot topic of hazards: what’s lurking in our collections and how do we talk about risks? We also talk chemicals, health and safety attitudes, and when not to drop an object. Tune in for an interview with Lauren McGhee and Ellie Rowley-Conwy about firearms conservation, and Kerith Koss Schrager about health and safety attitudes in conservators.
00:00:28 Welcome to season two!
00:01:11 News in brief
00:03:12 What kind of hazards do we face as conservators?
00:04:22 Radioactivity and Jenny’s desire for a Geiger counter
00:10:06 How do we communicate risks?
00:12:23 Asbestos, mercury, and arsenic
00:14:01 It’s OK to say no – when do we ask for help?
00:18:08 Biohazards and our old friend Mould
00:20:14 Firearms and explosives
00:21:22 Interview with Lauren McGhee and Ellie Rowley-Conwy
00:35:00 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
00:36:45 Drugs, disposals, and documentation
00:41:33 Chemicals and COSHH
00:43:38 Interview with Kerith Koss Schrager
01:03:40 Our health and safety attitudes
01:13:39 Questions, comments, and corrections: Arduino shout-out
01:14:41 Patreon shout-out!
We have a chat about salvage: floods, fires, accidents, and pest infestations. All the fun stuff! Christina talks to Sophie Rowe about practical salvage training, Jenny gets worked up about emergency planning, and Kloe really wants to try some salvage in practice. Also tune in for an in-depth interview with Natalie Mitchell about the salvage work involved after the Glasgow School of Art fire.
00:00:24 News in brief
00:01:25 Our experiences of salvage and little disasters
00:05:15 Is salvage only after floods and fires? How about accidents at work?
00:08:58 Massive pest infestations can also be disasters
00:10:06 Grenfell Tower and the topic of fires
00:11:24 Training options: table top exercises and emergency planning
00:13:05 Training options: practical salvage with Historic England
00:13:45 Interview with Sophie Rowe about practical training
00:23:38 Coordinating with Emergency Services during planning
00:26:09 Building plans in emergency plans and why Jenny has opinions on them
00:28:57 Interview with Natalie Mitchell about the Glasgow School of Art fire and subsequent salvage
00:50:20 Review: Refashioning and Redress – Conserving and Displaying Dress (book)
00:54:47 Questions, comments, and corrections: the demographics of different types of conservators, and comparing notes on Elspeth Jordan’s social media survey
01:04:40 End of the season?!
01:06:27 Patreon shout out!
In this episode we talk about how the Raspberry Pi can be used in museums – and by conservators in particular! Jenny and Christina share their experiences and favourite examples from museums, plus a couple of ideas for listeners to explore. We talk to Mark Kearney about using a Pi for time-lapses in the V&A conservation department, plus we have a chat with Alex Bate and George Oates about the Museum in a Box project. Pi, anyone?
00:00:29 News in brief (mostly giggles)
00:04:59 Eating in the galleries… and what kind of pie this isn’t!
00:06:04 What is the Raspberry Pi and what is it for?
00:12:24 Why should museums care about the Pi?
00:13:46 Christina’s touchscreen project
00:19:31 Example: Museum of London, retro video games, and the Pi
00:23:12 Example: Macclesfield Silk Museum and Pi punch cards
00:24:47 Idea: Bluetooth beacons, audio tours, and a Pi
00:26:38 Idea: Environmental monitoring with a Pi
00:30:11 Interview with Mark Kearny from UCL
00:45:27 Could we do Pi training or workshops for museum professionals?
00:48:47 Interview with Alex Bate from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and George Oates from Museum in a Box
01:20:27 Comments, questions, and corrections
C is for: Connecting and Communicating (on Social Media)
How do conservators use social media? We discuss what conservation professionals share (and don’t share), if we post different things on Facebook vs. Twitter, and what conservators would like to see more of. Christina also talks to conservators Fiona McLees and Alex Walker from the Bodleian Library about their social media savvyness!
00:00:27 What exactly is social media, anyway?
00:01:14 How Kloe, Christina and Jenny use various platforms – and who our audiences are! 00:15:09 Survey results: favoured platforms and account types
00:16:58 What people choose to post about and quite a lot of opinions
00:24:09 How do conservators use the different platforms?
00:30:37 What do we share?
00:32:04 What DON’T we share?
00:40:08 What we love to see and your favourite accounts/groups
00:42:35 What we don’t like quite as much
00:47:31 Do we have professional discussions on social media?
00:51:01 Age and gender of our survey respondents
00:52:19 Generally about social media in museums
00:52:57 Interview with Fiona McLees and Alex Walker from the Bodleian Library
01:16:56 Questions, comments, and corrections
01:17:04 Patreon shout-out!
Buckle up! In this episode we have a chat about ‘extreme’ conservation and what that can mean – dangling off buildings, potholing for preservation, or working in extreme conditions. We talk to Cathy Tully, nomadic conservator-in-a-suitcase, and Sophie Rowe, a conservator who recently worked on in Antarctica.
00:00:33 News time!
00:02:40 Abseiling, underground conservation, and other unusual skills
00:05:31 Our extreme experiences (or lack thereof)
00:07:31 Interview with Cathy Tully
00:23:41 The joy of getting specialist supplies in different countries and the value of planning
00:24:22 What would you bring to a desert (island)?
00:25:00 Interpersonal skills and extreme freelancing
00:26:15 Working in politically unstable regions
00:27:41 Interview with Sophie Rowe
00:53:45 It’s serious when you involve the military in some fashion
00:55:11 When technology fails the pencil prevails!
00:57:31 Conservators in space next?
00:58:30 Visitor numbers are impressive on the South Pole!
00:59:06 Health and safety
01:02:19 Comments, questions, corrections
01:02:26 Patreon shout-out!
Today we’re talking about how we portray ourselves and how conservators are perceived: in both the media and in fiction. Kloe and Jenny have another natter about the app Articheck, and Christina reviews the book ‘The Public Face of Conservation.’
00:35 News time!
05:13 Popular culture, language use, and how we communicate
14:18 When people think stuff is fake…
16:50 Examples of articles about conservators, not their work
20:03 Profile raising, unexpected skills amongst conservators, and the Peter Principle
23:54 Is the white coat endearing or threatening?
25:20 Conservators in photographs and PR images
28:00 ‘Conservation’ and ‘conservator’ are not great search words
30:45 Fictional conservators
38:21 Why are there not more horror stories/films set in dark museum stores?!
40:25 Book review: The Public Face of Conservation
52:50 Questions, comments, corrections
53:48 Articheck review revisited
58:25 Patreon shout-out!
We tackle life as an emerging conservation professional (ECP): Jenny and Kloe talk to guest host Marie Jordan about their collective experiences as new conservators and share a few of our listeners’ stories. We talk about the struggles of both British and American ECPs and the importance of making a fuss. Christina interviews Jonathan Ashley-Smith about conservation training, craft skills (the other c word!), and why it’s important to play nice as an ECP.
00:00:25 News in brief
00:04:22 We’re on Patreon!
00:04:47 Marie, Kloe, and Jenny talk about being emerging professionals
00:06:03 What is an emerging conservation professional, anyway?
00:08:57 Who has had the worst job rejection?
00:13:15 Silent employers are the worst
00:15:40 Listener stories: travelling far and wide, the phenomenon of Skype interviews, short contracts, and working away from spouses
00:28:18 Resume gaps, volunteering, and how to deal with unemployment
00:39:10 Working away from partners and families
00:40:52 Listener stories: worst distance-to-contract-length ratio
00:41:41 Impossibly expensive cities to work in: London and San Fransisco
00:46:30 The need for empathy from employers
00:47:50 Status quo, diversity, and why you should be angry
00:53:21 Listener stories: inexperience, commuting times, and job security
00:56:17 Vital skills you need to get hired
00:58:52 Comments, suggestions, questions, corrections
00:59:20 Interview with Jonathan Ashley-Smith
01:17:33 Research and the possibly disillusioned graduate
01:19:32 Craft skills and extracurricular CV material
01:23:55 Resources for ECPs
We have a chat about gloves: their uses, problems, and varieties. Also is there such a thing as clean hands? Tune in for an interview with Dr Cordelia Rogerson and Dr Paul Garside from the British Library who tell us about their glove policies.
00:23 Gloves, gloves, gloves – and when people refuse to wear them
03:56 The health and safety aspect
05:46 Lifting the glove rule (ish)
07:21 The White Cotton Glove Problem
15:27 Not wearing gloves
16:15 Cross-contamination worries
22:49 Disposable gloves and recycling
26:09 Chemical resistance in nitrile gloves
28:30 Hand cleanliness – or lack thereof
33:02 Subconscious bias?
35:34 Interview with Dr Cordelia Rogerson and Dr Paul Garside about glove policies
47:47 Review: Jenny and Kloe talk about their favourite nitrile gloves
52:22 Comments, corrections and questions