A video made by us trainees in the PZ Conservation studio of flattening parchment deeds using neodymium magnets and weights. The full treatment lasted several hours, though the footage has been sped up and edited to reduce it to around six minutes.
We used a mixture of ethanol and water 3:1 on cotton swabs along the heavily set folds, and then left them to dry under the magnets. Using magnets allowed a very precise tension to be created and maintained during the drying process. This treatment was repeated several times and on both sides of the deed, with the pressure being applied to the convex side of each fold.
It was important to minimise the amount of moisture that the deeds were exposed to as parchment is a highly hygroscopic material and distortions can easily be created, and iron gall ink and water soluble inks were also present.
The treatment was successful, maintaining light folds which conveyed the document's history, whilst ensuring that the object and information was stable and fully accessible. To read a full report of the project visit the PZ Conservation blog: www.pzconservation.org.uk