42nd Annual Meeting: BPG Tips Session, May 30, moderated by Emily Rainwater

There were sixteen tips presented by twelve speakers in this session, with a very lively question and comment period at the end.

 Tip 1:  ‘Beading: A Japanese technique used to relax laminated paper’ presented by Betsy Palmer Eldridge. 

When two sheets of paper have been pasted together overall, the result is a sheet that is much thicker and stiffer than the two individuals. Ms. Eldridge described her technique of using a string of beads known as ura-suri to soften, relax, and remove cockling from the laminated paper. She forms the beads into a coil, then makes a repeated circular motion with a flat hand. During the Q&A, Rachel Freeman mentioned that marbles or a Japanese printmaking baren work well too.

 Tip 2:  ‘Quick and Easy Plexi Paste’ presented by Cher Schneider.

Ms. Schneider developed this method for adhering two pieces of Plexiglas together to make mounts. Step 1: Collect Plexi shavings into a glass container. Step 2: Dissolve first in drops of acetone until it gets milky white, then add drops of toluene until it becomes transparent. Do not stir too much. Step 3: Apply to one side of the joint with a glass stir rod, then attach the other piece. Clear excess with a piece of matboard, then with a swab dampened with toluene. Step 4: Cure for 15-20 hours. Step 5: Clean glass tools by popping the dried Plexi paste right off. She does not recommend trying to re-use dried Plexi paste. During the Q&A, John Baty suggested a bake-out to cure the paste.

Tip 3: ‘Alt Training’ by Beth Doyle.

After struggling with the difficulties of providing care and handling training to temporary and permanent staff and students, Beth Doyle of Duke University Libraries figured out that using social media to make short training videos on specific topics is a great way to reach everyone in a timely manner. The instagram videos are 15 seconds and the youtube videos, such as this one, are 2 minutes. If you want to make your own, she recommends using multiple paths to reach the largest audience, exploiting what each platform has to offer, reusing and recycling clips where possible, accepting that what you have is good enough, and keeping it short.

 Tip 4:  ‘Studio-Lab Weight Sources’ by Stephanie Watkins.

Ms. Watkins reviewed the types of weights that conservators use, with suggestions for how to find or make your own. Because they are by nature heavy, she suggests above all that looking locally or making your own is the most cost-effective, and in the spirit of the meeting, ecologically sound. If you do have to have some weights shipped, she recommends USPS flat weight priority. Items that have been used as weights include magnets, sewing weights, scuba, exercise and fishing weights, car tire balancing weights, glass scraps, paperweights, flat irons, shoe anvils, weights manufactured by conservation suppliers, hand-crafted weights, scrap metal, and heavy items from freecycle. Home-made weight fillings include ball bearings, BB shot, coins, stones, sand, glass, beads and beans. Modifications can include polishing, covering, and adding smooth boards, felts, handles, and fabric. Form follows function, so determine the size and shape needed, then look around to see what is available.
I commented on this tip to add that a friend who sometimes has to travel out of the lab to do conservation work on-site brings empty containers and fills them with water for make-shift weights.

Tip 5:  ‘Cling and Release: Silicone Mylar+Japanese Paper+Wheat Starch Paste= A One-Step Hinge for Float Framing’ by Terry Marsh, read by Anisha Gupta.
steps 1-6
This PDF ( TerryMarsh-OneStepHinge ) explains the process.

Tip 6:  ‘Aquazol as a heat-set adhesive’ by Adam Novak.

Mr. Novak presented two quick tips. First, he shared his recipe for heat-set tissue, based on research by Katherine Lechuga, summarized here. He makes a 6% solution of Aquazol 500 in deionized water and brushes it on very thin (2 gram) tengujo paper. After cutting the repair strip, it can be set in place temporarily using the heat of his finger. Then, he places silicone release paper over the repair and sets it with a tacking iron. (When questioned later by Sarah Reidell, he indicated that he did not know the exact temperature used with the tacking iron, but supposed that it is in the range of 150 degrees F.) The repair may look shiny in comparison with surrounding paper. If this is the case, shine can be reduced by brushing on a bit of ethanol.

Tip 7: ‘Using pH strips with filtered water’ by Adam Novak.

The second tip addressed the issue of very different readings with a pH strip and a pH meter when measuring deionized water solutions buffered with calcium hydroxide. This is something that I had noticed in my lab at NYPL, and was glad to hear an explanation. Mr. Novak has discovered that the conductivity is very low in the calcium solutions and that there is not enough ionization to get an accurate reading with the strips. This is only the case with calcium- other buffers have higher conductivity and the strips read more accurately.

Tip 8:  ‘Cellulose Powder’ by Becca Pollak.
(photo of slide taken by Valerie Faivre)
Ms. Pollack described her technique of spraying cellulose powder with an airbrush to minimize local discoloration on paper, cover foxing, or prepare for inpainting. She sprays the powder directly through stencils and adds pigments for toning if necessary. The basic recipe is below as a starting point, but adjustments may need to be made depending on its moisture sensitivity of an object or the desired effect. She also sprays films on Mylar and allows them to dry for future use. In that case, she sprays a layer of plain methylcellulose first to improve cohesion of the sheet. Ms. Pollak is preparing a tip sheet to be posted soon.
Basic recipe:
  • Approximately 20mL 0.5-1% Methocel A4M (Ms. Pollack reports that Elissa O’Loughlin prefers 1-2% of A15C; and Jim Bernstein prefers a mixture of cellulose ethers or gelatin.)
  • 5-10mL isopropanol
  • 1g of micro-cellulose powder

Tip 9: ‘Applying New Techniques On A Traditional Adhesive For Book Conservation’ by  Marjan Anvari.

Traditional, western conservation training in book and paper conservation centers around the use of wheat starch paste. Ms. Anvari is an Iranian conservator working on middle eastern objects and decided to develop a repair adhesive based on a traditional Iranian adhesive that is also flexible and reversible in water. This adhesive, used by artists and artisans and known as ‘green paste,’  is dark yellow in color and leaves a stain, so Ms. Anvari worked to purify it, and came up with an acceptable recipe. She gave out samples at the end of the session. The paste can also be acquired from Raastak Enterprises, which can be contacted for more information.

Tip 10:  ‘Flattening translucent paper’ by Laura Neufeld.

Ms. Neufeld tested four techniques for flattening thin papers: Mylar flattening, the hard-soft sandwich technique, friction flattening, and edge flattening. A gampi-fibered paper was used for testing. The Mylar flattening technique, featured in the article ‘The conservation of three Whistler prints on Japanese paper’ by Catherine Nicholson, required the paper to be fully wet and gave the paper a slight sheen. The hard-soft sandwich technique, featured in the article ‘Architectural Drawings on Transparent Paper’ by Hildegard Homburger, did not require much moisture and removed severe creases. The sandwich calls for polypropylene fleece., but Ms. Neufeld found that this can be substituted with polyethylene fleece or Gore-Tex with the fuzzy side away from the object. Friction flattening, described in the article ‘The Use of Friction Mounting as an Aid to Pressing Works on Paper‘ by Keiko Keyes, can have similar results as using a kari-bari and has been found to work well on both old master and Japanese prints. She found edge flattening to be the most difficult. This slide (Flattening_Slide) shows the results in normal and raking illumination.

Tip 11:  ‘Tek-wipes’ by Gwenanne Edwards.

Tek-wipes, which are used in the computer and custodial industries, were mentioned on the DistList and handed out at last year’s Tip Session, and it seems that the word is out; many people have been discovering uses for them in paper conservation. Ms. Edwards likes to use them for capillary washing, slant washing, suction washing, as a support for lining, for drying and flattening, and in emergency response. She recommends them because they are highly absorbent, strong, reusable, machine-washable, dimensionably-stable, you can vary their saturation, they pull discoloration out well, they are safe with solvents, and they are way cheaper than blotter. They are available from a number of sources under various trade names, such as Texwipe or Technicloth. The overwhelming majority of commenters at the end of the session wanted to talk about Tek-wipes and other blotter replacements. Seth Irwin uses them to pull tidelines from paper using a tacking iron. Betsy Palmer Eldridge suggested that they would work in some of the drying techniques tested by Laura Neufeld (above.) In Australia, they use bamboo felt and interfacing in place of blotters. Bill Minter said that Christine Smith uses bath towels. Anna Friedman uses Sham-wow(warning: this link takes you to the company page with a video commercial).

Tip 12: ‘Rare earth magnets to make solvent chambers’ by  Anne Marigza.
(photo of slide taken by Valerie Faivre)
Ms. Marigza uses rare earth magnets in a solvent chamber. One on either side of the inverted glass or Mylar container will hold the solvent-saturated blotter (or other absorbent material) in place. The magnet can be discarded when it becomes powdery.

Tip 13.  ‘Flattening Rolled Drawings for Digitization’ by Bill Minter.
(photo of slide taken by Valerie Faivre)
Mr. Minter developed a method for flattening architectural drawings by reverse-rolling. He places a cardboard tube at the edge of the table with an attached paper extension hanging down to the floor. He places the leading edge of the drawing in the roller, then rolls it the opposite way and lets it sit for a day. When unrolled, it lays flat enough for digitization.

Tip 14: ‘Velcro for Phase-Boxes’ by Bill Minter.

Do you find your velcro hooks and loops to be too strongly attached to each other that they do not pull apart easily? Mr. Minter has discovered a less aggressive velcro. Instead of being labelled as such, the only way to distinguish is that the box is marked ‘clear.’ It comes in strips, discs, or rectangles.

Tip 15: ‘Dry-Tearing of Paper for Infills’ by Bill Minter.
(photo of samples taken by Valerie Faivre)
Lay some wire mesh on a flat surface and place the infill paper on top. Run the tip of an awl, needle, or other pointed instrument along the line you want to tear. It will create a perforation that can be dry-torn. McMaster-Carr sells wire mesh different gauges and materials. Above are samples of two sizes.

Tip 16: ‘Toning of Paper’ by Bill Minter.

The Preval sprayer works great for small paper-toning projects. Clean well after use. During the Q&A, we learned: They sell replacement valves if the ones you have get clogged. The glass jars can be saved and reused.

3 thoughts on “42nd Annual Meeting: BPG Tips Session, May 30, moderated by Emily Rainwater”

  1. Thank you for posting the tips for those of us not attending. Very much appreciated.

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