The sacrifices we make
I have thought long and hard about what would be the best approach to take to repair the tears in The Key. My initial thought was to use a remoistenable lining paper, but there are two problems with repairing it in this manner:
- The yellow discolouration throughout the print is water soluble, which means that if an aqueous adhesive is applied to it, the yellow discolouration may move with moisture and dry with a dark ring around the edge of the area (known as “tide lines”). This is very likely to happen as there are lots of areas on the print where it has already occurred (refer to blog Chapter Five); and,
- There are faint annotations on the back of the print, which means that an overall lining of the print will cover these and make them almost impossible to read, and a partial lining would look cumbersome and mean some areas are supported while other areas are not.
To test various repair techniques and decide on the best one, a sacrificial item was sourced at an op-shop:
This item has extensive yellow discolouration and iron gall ink annotations, and is brittle and easily damaged, just like The Key. I found that the yellow discolouration moves on the trial object just as it does on The Key, so the potential for forming tide lines on The Key can be accurately replicated.
Different repair techniques will be trialled on this object to ensure a technique can be developed which does not cause movement of the yellow discolouration. This will mean that the tears on The Key can be stabilized individually rather than lining the entire back surface, therefore allowing the annotations on the back to remain visible.
The repair techniques to be trialled include:
- Traditional repair with wheat starch paste and hand-made Japanese tissue
- Traditional repair with solvent based adhesive like a modified cellulose and hand-made Japanese tissue
- An aqueous (water-based) remoistenable tissue patch
- A non-aqueous remoistenable tissue patch
- A low temperature heat activated adhesive like BEVA 371 on tissue
- Small “sutures” made from Japanese tissue adhered with wheat starch paste
- Small “sutures” made from Japanese tissue adhered with a non-aqueous modified cellulose adhesive.
All of these techniques will introduce the smallest amount of moisture possible and also cause the least amount of cockling along the interface between the adhered and non-adhered areas. The technique deemed the most successful on the trial object will be put into place on The Key.