13

March

2013

6

The Fix – The Art of Simple Paper Repair

by Katie Wagner

IMG_0948Paper repair is an elusively simple repair.  Using  wheat starch paste and Japanese paper we repair tears in paper in a manner that is flexible and reversible.  The trick to a good paper repair is select the proper color and weigh of repair tissue.  The majority of Japanese papers are made from Kozo (Mulberry) fibers but Gampi and Mitsumata are also popular chocices.  The weight of the paper ranges from the ultra thin (and virtually see-through) Tosa Tengujo at 9 grams per square meter to Okawara paper at 60 grams per square meter.

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We recently received volume III of Conrad Gessner’s seminal work Historiae Animalium (1551-1558) from the Dibner Library.  While the binding is in excellent shape there were numerous paper tears ranging in size from .5cm – 14cm.

Step one was to identify and mark the pages with tears and measure each tear. Next the appropriate weight and color of tissue is selected.  The majority of the repairs were done using Kizukishi paper but in areas where the text was obscured by the tears a thinner Tosa Tengujo double sided repair was executed.  A water pencil is then used to tear thin strips of the paper (less is more!) so that the edges are feathered and therefore less visible.

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A thin layer of wheat starch paste is brushed onto a piece of Mylar and the Japanese paper is placed on top of it and rubbed down to ensure an even application of paste.  Tweezers are used to carefully lift the paper and place it along the tear.  If the tear is long then multiple strips are used.  Specially constructed boards covered in blotter paper and Hollytex are placed on both sides of the repair and a weight is placed on top until the repair is dry.

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A 14cm paper tear before treatment.  Since the tear extends over text the decision was made to use a thin paper on both sides of the tear.

 

 

 

 

 

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After treatment the repair is virtually invisible and the text is legible.

 

6 thoughts on “The Fix – The Art of Simple Paper Repair

  1. Katie Fletcher

    Out of curiosity, does this repair technique also work for textured paper, like watercolor paper or a similarly rough stock?

    Reply
  2. Katie Wagner

    Yes, the technique would work with textured paper. If the paper is quite thick a heavier weight Japanese paper is more appropriate.

    Reply
  3. jill

    How do you remove rust colored stains from a print on water color paper ? I would like to conserve the print. Thanks Jill

    Reply
  4. John Schumacher-Hardy

    PROBLEM: I have a 20 page (front and back) 1772 booklet by Hezekiah Gates of Lancaster, MA entitled: “King George’s Right to the Crown of Great-Britain, Displayed… ” It was printed in Boston, MA by W. McAlpine of Marlborough St. It seems to have been printed on typical period rag paper. Unfortunately, the tops of the last two pages have become torn and separated from the body (approximately 2 inches down from the top in a straight horizontal line). There doesn’t appear to be any part of the torn paper missing (text lines up well).

    QUESTIONS: Would it be better to leave the rare booklet as it is or have a professional paper conservator try to reattach the two page tops with archival friendly methods? (also, what might those methods be?) I do NOT want to damage this rare and historical item, nor do I want to diminish its monetary value. Please kindly advise. THANK YOU :-) JCS12367@gmail.com

    Reply
    1. Erin Rushing

      Hi John,

      According to our Preservation staff:

      It sounds like a torn page. I’d suggest a book or paper conservator – our professional organization, The American Institute for Conservation, has a find a conservator tool: http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=495. This type of repair is usually done by adhering Japanese paper to the tear using wheat starch paste. A conservator will know which weight and type of Japanese paper to use once the booklet has been reviewed.

      Good luck!

      Erin

      Reply
  5. mandy

    A watercolor has been cut into quarters, I want to fix it for a friend. Is this a good way to do so and what is a water pencil and where can I get one? All of the supplies you have listed are they available at a local craft store?

    Reply

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