44th Annual Meeting, Book and Paper, May 17th, “TEK-Wiping Out the Competition: The Ideal Reusable Absorbent Material,” by Kaslyne O’Connor

This amazing material is made up of 55% cellulose and 45% polyester. It is formed by the process of hydroentangling, so it is a non-woven material. It does not contain any binders and its pH is naturally at about 6. It resists solvents and does not leave behind any residues. It has amazing wet strength, unlike blotters, and is dimensionally stable, so it won’t stretch when wet either.
Tek-Wipe is absorbent, reusable, sustainable, and economical. It costs significantly less than blotters. It is available for purchase in either sheets or rolls and in both a lightweight and heavyweight form.
It can be used for many things such as in disaster salvage kits as an absorbent material, for Gore-tex humidification in place of blotters, for capillary washing, with the suction table in place of filter paper, and in phytate treatments for books written in iron gall ink because it is so thin it won’t put stress on the binding. Tek-Wipe can also be used as a support for transporting wet objects and can be used for dry cleaning glass plate negatives.
Kaslyne’s first case study example was the treatment of a print that had been coated in varnish. The Tek-Wipe was soaked in ethanol and placed on the face of the print along with a sheet of Mylar and even weight for 15 minutes. This was repeated twice to make sure all of the varnish was removed from the paper. From the images that were shown in the presentation it appeared that the varnish was solubilized by the ethanol and absorbed by the Tek-Wipe and thus removed from the print.
The second case study was about a hand colored Audubon engraving that had been trimmed and mounted to a pulp board. They determined that the adhesive was strong and mechanical removal was too time consuming so they used a combination of humidification and mechanical removal using Tek-Wipe. For this treatment, sheets of Tek-Wipe were soaked in water and laid out flat. The print was placed back down on the Tek-Wipe and a sheet of acrylic was placed on top with weight added to ensure even contact. Once the pulp board was humidified it was taken out of the stack and the board was removed mechanically with ease. After the board was removed the print could be washed and light bleached.
Since Tek-Wipe is very absorbent and good for washing and varnish removal it gets stained. Don’t worry though, it is washable! It can be washed by hand or in the washing machine and you can reuse it! Kaslyne did warn not to scrub it because it can break the fiber bonds and cause fibrillation. Tek-wipe can be dried on a rack, but it will dry in the shape of its support so Kaslyne recommended flattening it on a table with a brayer with no weight or restraint needed.