Monday, November 23, 2009

Dry Cleaning - Smoke Sponges

There are several dry techniques for cleaning paper, including the use of white vinyl erasers and smoke sponges. Smoke sponges are made from vulcanized natural rubber, and are the same product used to clean smoke dust of walls after building fires. They come in large bricks, which we cut in to smaller pieces in the lab, and then gently rub on the surface of the paper.

This is a print I cleaned and re-framed. The glass was originally stained yellow in several areas, and the protective lining around the edge of the frame had split, which enabled insects to get inside. There were two dead silverfish pressed under the glass. I removed the print from the frame and took this picture.

I noticed the image had a lot of surface dirt. It was also evident from the consistency of the brushstrokes that this was a replica, with some sort of clear coating on the paper. I tested an inconspicuous area with the smoke sponges, which removed substantial dirt without damage to the paper. I continued to treat the image with smoke sponges. This image shows an area that was partially cleaned. The left side is untouched, and the right side was treated with smoke sponges.

After treating the entire image with smoke sponges, I cleaned the glass from the frame. Most of it had to be scraped with a razor to removed caked on dirt. I also cleaned the frame with smoke sponges. I reframed the image, adding a new backing board of corrugated cardboard, and lined the backing board/frame edge with linen tape, so there was no gap in the back. I also replaced the framing wire. This is the finished object after treatment (Summer 2009).

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