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Re: [BKARTS] Stains & Tears - Washing/Bleaching


I have washed quite a bit of paper and this weakens or removes any stains 
- depending on what the cause was likely to have been.  You have made the 
sensible test to check for ink runs, so that is OK.   I normally wet the 
paper in a 50/50 mixture of iso-propyl alcohol and water to ensure the 
leaf is penetrated by the water - this only takes a few seconds.   I may 
leave the paper in for a few minutes if it is stained to try and remove 
the more soluble products (This alcohol solution can be saved for the 
next job as the real washing comes next).  The paper is then transferred 
to the plain water, or more usually into deacidifying solution made from 
calcium hydroxide powder dissolved in tap water (only dissolves slightly, 
a teaspoonful in a few pints still leaves some on the bottom of the 
flask).   I use reagent quality chemicals.  The deacidifying solution is 
normally diluted 50/50 with tap water once more.  The liquid can be tepid 
to help the process, the warmer it is the more likely is the removal of 
any sizing.

The leaves can be removed after a while and allowed to dry on clean paper 
then pressed between blotting paper when almost dry over night.  If 
necessary the leaves can be re-sized.

I submerge the leaves in a flat plastic tray with separators of plastic 
netting or other inert material.

Using the sun for bleaching I have not tried, but it is how the paper 
used to bleached I believe.    Again using calcium hypochlorite 
(chloramine-T is not recommended) for bleaching and weak acetic acid for 
its removal I have bleached paper, but this requires plenty of room and a 
set of trays, etc.  This process is somewhat more complex than the simple 

The references that I use are the papers by Dr Margaret Hey, "The Washing 
& Aqueous De-acidification of Paper" p.66, 1979 and "Paper Bleaching:Its 
Simple Chemistry & Working Procedures" p.10, 1977; both in the journal 
'The Paper Conservator'.  There may be other later papers or research, 
I'm not sure.

I think you will find some notes/leaflets on the internet for the 
protection and storing of photographs from various conservation 
institutes, but wetting them is likely to be unwise.
Hope that helps.

Rodney Fry

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