Chapter Twelve

Toning things down…

Now that the print is repaired, the losses on the edges will be filled so that they become less obvious to the viewer.
Three techniques for toning infill papers were tried:
1. Paper Goo: This is an extract of aged paper. Torn up vintage paper is soaked in water and heated to reduce the water and concentrate the solution:

Paper extract being extracted


Dried paper extract

The compound is then brought to a neutral pH with the addition of calcium hydroxide as it is reconstituted:

Paper extract being reconstituted with calcium hydroxide

The solution is used to soak strips of pure cellulose machine made paper:

Pure cellulose paper dyed with paper extract

It worked, but the tone was too yellow when compared to the front of the print:

Original item compared to pure cellulose paper dyed with paper extract

So, I tried again…

2. The same machine made paper was soaked in a solution of water colour paints to try and produce a better tone:

Watercolour toned paper

However, while this was being done, a stash of toned paper which had been produced for a similar treatment was rediscovered…

3. Inkjet colour matching:
A previous treatment in the Canberra lab on a ferrogallic print produced a number of sheets of acid free paper printed with colour matched inkjet ink. A digital image had been taken of the print, colour matched to the original and sections of solid colour printed out:

Inkjet ink on archival paper

One of these colours matched this ferrogallic print almost perfectly:

Original item compared to inkjet print out

So, I got lucky! This paper will be used to fill in the losses on each short edge of the print.

Chapter Eleven

Repairs – Part 2

With the tears stabilised with BEVA sutures, they are now in place and can be repaired along their entire length.

Laying down long repair patches

One centimetre wide strips of remoistenable lining paper were torn from the sheet. Tearing the paper provides an edge of feathery fibres which creates more surface area for the adhesive to stick to and we end up with a better grip. The strips are gently wet out, allowed to air dry slightly, positioned over the tear, then burnished into place. They are then placed under weight and allowed to dry without movement. This work is carried out on the light table so that the line of the tear can be followed exactly.
With the combination of sutures and thin tissue strips, the tears are now strong and not at risk of getting worse during handling.

Repair patches in place

At the same time, the largest losses will be in-filled with tissue. This will provide a support for colour toned patches to make the losses less apparent from the front.
Firstly, the object is covered with Mylar as a protective barrier layer. The repair tissue is placed over the loss and the tissue perforated with a pointed probe around the edge of the loss.

Perforating the repair tissue through Mylar

Then, the perforated line is wet out with deionized water to facilitate tearing the patch out. It is pasted or wet out around the overlap and carefully positioned over the loss. The patch is then weighted down until dry and set into place:

Wet tearing over perforations

The same system can be used to infill losses and repair many small edge tears at the same time:

Fill tissue used as edge repair strip

Once all of the tears on each end are repaired from the back, the item will be flipped over and the losses infilled with toned paper from the front. But that’s for next time….

Chapter Ten

Repairs – Stage One

With a better understanding of how to repair this badly discoloured item after all the testing detailed in Chapter 9, the work could begin:

BEVA 371 film was applied to strips of Bib Tengujo Japanese tissue. This is a very fine, hand-crafted tissue made from Paper Mulberry (or Kozo) fibres. It is used in conservation when translucent repairs are required.

BEVA film applied to tissue

These strips were cut into individual sutures around 3mm wide and 13mm long:

Individual suture

The sutures were individually attached to the back of the print, working from the front. Silicone release film (a plastic sheet that has a non-stick surface) was inserted between the two layers of torn paper so that when the sutures were tacked in place, there was no risk of accidentally adhering them to the work surface.

Silicone release Mylar in place

Sutures in place

Once all the sutures were inplace, the tears were aligned and the sutures tacked down to hold the tear in place:

All sutures holding tears in alignment

Each individual suture was sealed into place with a heated spatula:

Adhering individual sutures

This ensured the sutures were as translucent as possible to avoid obscuring any information:

Sutures before completed adhesion

Sutures after complete adhesion

The area of old masking tape repairs has gone from this:

Before masking tape removal

Before masking tape removal

To this:

After masking tape removal

After masking tape removal

And now this:

Tears sutured into place

There is still one more step to go: next, all the tears will be repaired along their entire length for strength and durability.