Tracing papers (or transparent papers) were commonly used for architectural plans as they allowed easy reproduction. The papers were made translucent through a variety of methods, including impregnating with oils or other agents, heavily beating the pulp in the manufacturing process, or by treating the paper with chemicals. These papers do not tend to have very good ageing qualities; over time they often become acidic and brittle, which is exacerbated by use and the fact that they are often stored rolled or folded due to their size and quantity in collections.
|Some of the objects as they came into the studio|
|Two objects before treatment|
Besides brittleness and size, the plans also had soluble inks and some serious iron gall ink degradation, all of which made this a challenging and interesting project to work on. The treatments carried out were cleaning, flattening, lining and infilling and repairs.
|Iron gall ink deterioration|
|Areas of losses and heavy creasing|
|Flattening a plan with light boards|
As the plans were so brittle, lining was the next process. As the plans could not be treated with water or water based adhesives, a mixture of 2% Klucel G in ethanol was used. This could be brushed through the very fine 6 gsm Kizuki Kozo Japanese tissue, which was applied in panels at a time for manageability and to avoid any distortions. The plans were then left to dry underneath weight.
The lining was very successful and added a great deal of strength and flexibility to the plans, and allowing them to be handled far more easily. The lining tissue was very fine, which kept the verso of the plans visible and did not really affect the translucent nature of the papers. Some of the smaller creases in the plans were not possible to remove though, and so these were captured in the lining process. This is a shame, but importantly the creases do not obscure or alter any of the information available on the plans.
|Lining a plan with 6 gsm Kizuki Kozo Japanese paper|
The four plans after treatment:
A tube of around five inches diameter was made by rolling archival paper pasted with EVA around an existing tube wrapped in melinex. This method was chosen as the cost of purchasing a ready made archival tube was restrictive. It formed a strong and stable tube around which the two largest plans were rolled with a sheet of 36 micron melinex. The melinex provided a clean and supportive surface onto which the plans could unrolled.
A box was then made with plastazote supports so that the tube was held above the bottom of the box and the tracing paper would have no weight or pressure upon it. The front side of the box also folds down so that the tube can be easily taken hold of. The opening side flap has a cloth attachment for added strength and so that the box is fully sealed when closed.
|The housing for the objects|
|Speaking to NADFAS volunteers about the project|