Bathing at the National Library.....

Bathing at the National Library.....
29 March 2011

I need to make a bath. Not for me; for a large sheet of yellowing brittle paper. Cleaning the paper reduces its acidity and will give it a longer life. As a bookbinder i don't do extensive paper treatments, but I do have occasion to wash and line sheets of material, more specifically paper covers. To get back to the item; after its bath I will need to line it. I've never done this before and it is very exciting. Throughout this whole process I am supervised by both Alexa and Janet. They will also  guide myself and Mel, in doing a full paper lining. Bathing is a scary concept; how can you just immerse a piece of old paper in water and hope that it comes out alright?  Before we take that step we do much testing, solubility testing to see if  the inks are stable. We use de-ionised water and we Ph test the water and adjust alkalinity accordingly. So please don't start putting your old discoloured maps in the bath in an attempt to clean them; there is much more to this process than meets the eye.

Item soaking in bath

Item soaking in bath

Water discoloured

Water discoloured

Before and after bath

Before and after bath

The item has been placed on remay in the water, and it is now taken out and placed it on a handy piece of blotter. To do the lining we use starch paste, which we make up from scratch. We get to bash some starch glue in a big wooden bowl with a big fat japanese brush, adding a little water to make it quite thin.

Making paste

Making paste

Next, we  apply glue to a thin tissue lining and using mylar we whip the covers onto the lining.

Bashing on glue

Bashing on glue

In between mylar

In between mylar

Lastly, it will be pressed in between thick pieces of felt and remay  and a glass plate placed on top to keep it flat

Flattening with glass weight

Flattening with glass weight

This is all very exciting and not a little scary. However with practise, it becomes easier. At the time of writing I've done 3 linings on my own now. But there is always someone around, just in case i get myself in a fix!