Paper washing and bleaching, vol 2

The second part of my washing and bleaching post is more about the bleaching part. As mentioned in the previous post, this is rarely done in conservation as it is thought to damage the structure of the paper fibres and will continue to disintegrate the object if not denatured properly. As before we were also measuring the experiments as we went to see the difference in paper weights as they were cleaned.

Sodium Dythonite (EDTA), Hydrogen Peroxide, Calcium Hypochlorite

There were three forms of bleaching we used in this session – Sodium Dythonite, Calcium Hypochlorite and Hydrogen Peroxide.

Spot testing the different bleaches

Sodium Dythonite at pH8
Conservators will us Sodium Dythonite to a certain extent, and will often prefer this solution, however it is often not removed totally and can leave a residue in the object. Similarly to this, conservators will often reuse this solution on the same spot many time over in order to remove a stain, however this repetitive use of the solution can be much more damaging than using a stronger one, such as Calcium Hypochlorite, to begin with and ensuring it is removed in full.

20g of Sodium Dythonite into EDTA (unknown amount)
Adjust the pH with Sodium Hydroxide until pH 8 is reached
This required a large amount of Sodium Hydroxide, possibly as the strength of the latter and the amount of EDTA was unknown.

Calcium Hypochlorite at pH9 (bleach of choice)
This solution often has a bad name, though we have been told it does not diserve such a reputation. It is argued that chlorine may be left in the object after de-naturing it (washing through with water). This is chemically suspicious as chlorine is linked to calcium and the molecules are strong and generally stay together. Once the calcium is removed, the chlorine will have nothing to attach to and should come off as a gas.

200ml of 4% Calcium Hypochlorite into 600ml of water
Intial testing of pH showed it at pH10.5
10% Acetic Acid was added to bring the pH down to 9

Hydrogen Peroxide at pH9
When it is used on objects, it will bleach as it drys due to unstable H2O2 molecules, which will release the spare O as a gas, denaturing itself in the process. However a conference in Vienna argued that this did not always occur and peroxide was left in the paper causing continual damage, it is therefore no longer used.

3ml of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide into 23ml of demonised water
The pH is altered using Ammonia to reach pH9
This should bring the amount up to 30ml

We then used each of these bleaches, mostly the Calcium Hypochlorite, and tested methods of cleaning. Everything was done on the vacuum table, having first humidified the object, and thoroughly washing it throughout. We used small amounts on a brush to target small stains such as foxing, and also spraying specific areas by masking the object with melinex.

Calcium Hypochlorite used on a masked out area
Half and half on the same sheet (using bleach of choice)

In the case of immersion, the whole page was put in a bath of Calcium Hypochlorite and then washed in water and left to dry.

Immersion into a bath of 4% Calcium Hypochlorite
Before immersion
After immersion


Paper washing and bleaching, vol 1

Bleaching is a dirty word in conservation, one whispered secretly. However there is no denying that there is something roguishly fun about sticking an old page from a book into a bath of bleach and watching it go from brown to bright white! I can state that the Rev will also be seeing some bleaching treatment in the next couple of weeks, and might then go on the wall!).

This is what we have been doing in the last week with Alan Buchanan, a visiting lecturer of ours, who is very charismatic and great to listen to. We have been working very scientifically and thoroughly, ensuring variables were recorded before starting out, and a control kept.

Preparing the paper for washing
Prior to our various forms of cleaning, it was necessary to record the primary data of the paper, so that we could see the difference once cleaned. We were using pages from the same book, so although they varied slightly in weight, they were very similar on most parts. Each sheet was weighed five times at intervals of 20 seconds, and a mean average taken from those recordings. One sheet was kept as a control and has remained unwashed.

Weighing the paper
The first four pages, ready for cleaning

Washing the paper
Immersion
A simple and straight forward method of cleaning, and one often with satisfactory results as the water will yellow when significant amounts of dirt are removed. Prior to immersion, the page had to be humidified. Immersing a document immediately into water is too much stress for the paper, it needs to be gently introduced to water so that it will accept it more readily. Once humidified we put the page into the water, at about 30 degrees, and left it for 30 minutes. After this, the page came out and was left on the drying rack to dry. In order to flatten it after that, it would need to be humidified again and pressed. Pressing is not something we are doing in our experiments.

Humidification
Ceder humidification chamber
Immersing the page into 30 degrees water
Drying the page on the rack

Float washing
In my opinion, this was the method of washing with the most obvious results as a distinctive residue of dirt left on the blotter. Again, prior to the was, we humidified the page. There are a few methods of float washing including ones where the object is left at an angle and water permanently run underneath it, but Alan assured us that there is no evidence to support one method working better than the other, and in his experience, this was an effective one. In a bath containing two sheets of blotter, water is introduced until it reaches the same level as the blotter, no more. Then the humidified object, recto up is placed onto the blotter. We also left this for 30 minutes. The benefit of this method is that the recto is kept dry, or at least away from the water and relatively untouched, which would be important with fragile media. If the document itself was fragile, it could also be placed on bondina before going on the blotter, which would protect it.

The second page being float washed
The remaining stained blotter

Blotter Washing
The third method of cleaning was the blotter wash, it is an extremely gentle form of washing, should the object have friable media or is delicate in itself. Primarily the first sheet of blotter is lightly wetted, this is a little more needed than for humidification, but not much. At this point both the dry and wet blotter should be weighed. On a clean surface, the dry blotter is placed down, then a sheet of roofing felt (goretex is the more expensive version of the same thing) then the object, recto up, the second sheet of roofing felt, and finally the wet blotter. This should then be covered with a piece of plastic and weighed down to keep the moisture contained. This is then left for an hour or more, as it is a gentle technique and needs time to work. If the object is very delicate, bondina can be used either side of the object. The method works by gravity pulling the water from the wet blotter through to the second, as well as the capillary matting from the roofing felt – this allows vapours through, but not droplets of water. As the second blotter is dry, it will be naturally pulled through to this blotter, via the object, cleaning it in the process. The reason for the object being recto up is so that any matter drawn through the object would show on the verso. Once the hour is up, the blotters are weighed again and there should be a considerable difference in weight.

Wetting the blotter
The cleaning method in action

Washing on the vacuum table
This is not as delicate as the blotter wash, but more so than the other methods. The object must first be humidified before washing to prevent it form being stretched on the vacuum table. The object should be placed on top of a cotton sheet on top of the machine as this will draw the water through quicker and will protect the object. It will also protect the machine from any dirt removed. Once on the table, it can be sprayed gradually all over with water until cleaning is complete.

Setting up the table for washing
The object on the vacuum table
Washing the object with a water spray

Localised and differential washing
We were particularly looking at localised washing with additives such as IMS (Industrial Mentholated Spirits) and Synperonic A7 (detergent that reduces surface tension and cleans).

The solutions were made at 100ml quantities as follows:
50ml IMS and 50ml Water
100ml Water and a drop of Synperonic

These were used in conjunction with the vacuum table. The object had to be humidified prior to being washed on the table. The area needing attention was masked out using melinex and the object placed on top of a cotton sheet. Using a very fine brush, the IMS or Symperonic was added directly to areas such as foxing spots, hopefully reducing them, though it was not massively successful. The object should be placed recto up so that anything that is drawn out through the suction, comes out on the verso.

Washing localised areas

More Stamp Paper

As promised some time back, I have now made some more stamp paper, the last one was a sort of practice run, this is what I had been planning. I have made them a lot bigger, A2 in fact, and YES they took a REEEAAALLY long time to make!

Pinks, Purples & Reds
Oranges, Yellows & Browns

The plan is to scan them in high quality and then get them properly printed on a nice archival paper. That way I can use them as book covers, end papers and all sorts of wonderful things! I also won’t have to cut these ones up! I might even put these on my wall as they look quite nice in real life – even if I do say so myself!

Greens and Blues

I have some more in the pipeline, those will be subject specific, a you seem to get so many of the same thing in these bigs bulk packs of stamps, so I am thinking ones with, animals, birds, transport, flowers and maybe a small one with insects!

A Collection of Poetry for My Mother

This little book I made earlier in the summer for my mother’s birthday. The sections are a collection of Poetry booklets that came free with the Guardian and Observer newspaper over Christmas last year. This is something the broadsheets often do over the Christmas period and are a great thing to collect if you spot them early enough.

I sewed the sections together with tape and linen thread and then bound it as a quarter bound flat back book. The book is aptly covered with papers that I made with my mother on a day of artistic inspiration when trying to build up my paper manipulation collection! The case is the first one I’ve made since my classes at the City Lit, and I’m fairly pleased with it – it’s certainly not perfect and I need practice, but I’m sure it could be worse for a second attempt! Amazingly, I also found the perfect ribbon to match.

I’m glad to say that my mum was extremely pleased with it, but is still a bit scared to sit down and read it!

Bookbinding Update | Week 31

Tuesday seemed to mark the completion of all sorts of things – my unit one stuff, which was lots of art work and paper manipulation, the handing in of all my work to date to be assessed (phew!) and a presentation that I was doing with two other people in the class. So as you can imagine, it was a huge relief to have it all completed! I have now handed in all my work so far, and don’t have too much left to do, except finish my project 2 (Journey to the Centre of the Earth) and make a box for it.
As well as all of the above, we also started work on our Coptic Bindings, which we are filling with the manipulated paper we have made for  unit 1 – you can see some of these in the images attached and the start of the binding – an extraordinarily complex way of sewing, that involves a needle for every hole! – 4 in this case!!!

Unfortunately, the sections in this binding are only made of two sheets, so it is quite easy to rip the sheets when you tighten the sewing, as you will see in the picture above – again, practice makes perfect!

Bookbinding Update | Week 22

Again, yesterday seemed to be a bit of a struggle – anyway – I was making my ‘made’ end papers yesterday, which means sticking two bits of paper together – one being the pretty end bits of the book, and the rest being the beginning white bits. These then get sewn on to the text block like another section. Sadly one of mine did go rather skew-whiff, which was disappointing, as I like these things to be perfect, but my tutor said that this will be the least of my problems later down the line when every thing gets harder!! I’m still a lesson behind and hope to catch up next week, but it’s tricky due to drying times, though I am up to date with other stuff, which other people are not, so I suppose it all levels out!

I was a lesson behind last week, as I hadn’t managed to make my pretty end papers, and didn’t take in my book either. Lots of people have bought pretty end papers, but I have found that I quite like making these things, so did that instead – and it saved me money – 90p instead of £10.00!! For the pretty end papers, I did as I discussed with Mummy, but took it a little further. I typed up the beginning of the book on my old type writer (much to our neighbors distress I am sure, as the clerchunking resonated throughout the flats!), I only managed one A4 sheet, as time eluded me yet again, and it takes a surprisingly long time to write a (relatively) accurate sheet of A4. So, with a little experimenting on our photocopier, I decided that I would blow up half the A4 (landscape A5) to landscape A3, making the text seem much larger and more art-like, rather than the small stuff, which may have looked just like the rest of the text. I also did it on dark blue paper so its quite dark and subtle and you don’t see it much. I may stamp this at a later stage with light ink, don’t know yet…

Any way, I don’t have any images of my actual end papers as once stuck they had to go straight in the press, so no time to photograph. I do, however, have pictures of my spare green end papers, as I couldn’t decide what to go for first of all. I’ve also photographed the original type, so hopefully you will see the difference….