Monday, November 23, 2009

Wet Cleaning - Prints

A friend of mine was dog sitting, and the puppy urinated on a print she had leaned against the wall. The original matte and foam core were badly stained. Luckily only the lower right-hand corner of the print was affected. In order to remove the urine, the print needed to be washed. I first tested the inks by wiping small areas of each color with damp q-tips. This is a before picture of the corner.
I washed the print between sheets of reemay in a filtered* water bath (Top). This removed most of the staining. Some areas were worse than others, so I removed them using filtered water on a vacuum suction table. I dried the print in the drying rack, and then reintroduced moisture using Gortex and pressed the print under weight to flatten it again. The picture on the bottom shows the corner after washing.

I was unable to wash the matte board. I cut a small piece of similar matte to test, and it completely delaminated in water. So in an effort to soften the stain, I sprayed the stained area with isopropyl alcohol, and walked it out along the edge. This did sterilize it, but did nothing to the stain. I did keep the matte and return it to the owner because the artist's insignia (a small paw print) was cut into the board.
The foam core was completely ruined. The artist statement was attached to the back of the foam core, but was not affected by the urine stain. However, twenty years had made it highly acidic. After removing it from the foam core, I washed it between reemay in filtered water, then deacidified it with a magnesium bicarbonate solution (Mg(HCO3)2). These images show the before (Top) and after (Bottom).

I cut a new matte for the print, but left the artist statement detached, in an archival envelope, in case the owner wanted to get the image re-matted by the artist.

*The Syracuse University lab does not have de-ionized water. Instead, the water is run through a particle and charcoal filter.

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