baptiste smoothes a Japanese painting
stretched out on a worktable in her Beacon Hill
studio. To restore a hand-tinted photograph of
a small child (facing page, below), she will
lift the image from its rotten cardboard backing
and mount it on acid-free mat board.
and reassemble it for the houses’s new owner
to display — this time on the wall instead of
Examining another current project, a
hand-tinted photograph of a child that is tenuously mounted on powdery cardboard, Baptiste compares the delicate item to a potato
chip: liable to crumble at the slightest touch.
She plans to slip the photo off the rotten cardboard and remount it on an acid-free archival
backing — it’s often acidic backings that compromise the life of whatever is mounted on top
— then painstakingly repair tears along the
edges. It takes a certain fearlessness to meddle
with a priceless heirloom, but Baptiste is confident in her ability to fix up just
about anything paper-based.
Even better, she takes pleasure
in doing so.
“I like being around beau-
tiful things, and I like making them look their
best,” says Baptiste of what motivates her to
spend 168 hours restoring a screen or to don
surgical magnifying goggles to meticulously
peel apart layers of fibrous Japanese kozo paper to use as a bandage for a torn map. “It’s
satisfying knowing I’ve done something good
for the piece.”