Oh that darn sticky tape!

Oh that darn sticky tape!
3 February 2011

Although I am part of preservation, I will mainly blog about what goes on in the bindery. With around 10 million books, there is no shortage of work for Dave, Neale and I. Let me state that I am not a paper conservator; I used to be a picture framer, and used conservation techniques such as hinging with japanese tissue and paste to give the work the best possible chance of survival. I would often get pictures that had been sticky taped to a backing, and boy,  and they often left sticky residue and marks on the art works.

Stiff and dry tape, that comes off easily but leaves unsightly yellow stain

Discolouration caused by barcode on vinyl cover

Paper and sticky tape now  play a big part of my life up here on the 4th floor.  Did you know there are many types of sticky tape that have been used over the years? There are various ways to get these different tapes off a paper surface. You might use water, a heated spatula or hair dryer, or a product such as 50/50 (ethanol/water) or PET spirits.  Often there is a residue that needs to be erased off the page.

Using a hair dryer to tease off sticky tape from a pulpy cover

Taking masking tape off with water and a paint brush.

Taking masking tape off with water and a paint brush.

A few weeks ago I had two paper covers that needed tape and paper taken off. I got to immerse them in a bath of water, after much spot testing and Ph testing.  What is spot testing , you ask? We need to do this to ensure that ink won't run in the bath. Take one small sized brush, add a dab of water. Get a piece of scrap blotter. Find a dot of colour on your page and alternate between dotting with water and dabbing with blotter, about ten times. If the ink comes off on the blotter, then you can't wash it as the ink will probably run. In the past, I used to be  that well meaning person who used magic tape to keep a page in, or keep the spine from falling off.   I can tell you that I don't like magic tape anymore. It is not that easy to get off! It might come off in a day or two, but leave it for weeks or months, and it's a nightmare to get off. I once tried to get magic tape off a pamphlet with very little success and had to be rescued by the paper girls. Now I just pass it over to them because they are much more efficient than me at the whole process.