Binder analysis

Scientific binder analysis can identify the materials used by the artist or maker in the construction of an artwork/artefact. Binder analysis can identify natural and synthetic materials, such as adhesives, resins (ie varnish layers and surface coatings), waxes, and paint binders (oils, acrylics, glues). The identification of certain binders can be used to assist in determining the chemical structure of an artwork and identify any potential deterioration issues in regards to the materials used. Identification of specific materials within the structure of the artwork can also be used to ascertain the authenticity of the work. Similar to pigment analysis, using binder analysis to authenticate an artwork is only possible when the binders identified indicate a specific period or previous research has documented specific materials characteristic to the artist in question.

Currently at Grimwade Conservation Services, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Gas chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) are available for the analysis of binding materials. These techniques require the removal of a minute sample from the artefact.