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  • Masking tape archivability issuesApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-04-11 12:22:55 ... Most recent comment 2018-04-11 15:48:01
    Art Conservation Topics Industrial and Non-Traditional Products Other Sizes and Adhesives

    When working on various supports (paper, board, etc.), it's often convenient to use masking tape in order to produce sharp edges or just keep the work in place. However, I'm not sur​e whether this could have a negative effect on the supports. Most producers of masking tapes don't say anything about their content, and there's no concrete information I could find on the subject online.

    If I use tape during painting/drawing and remove it afterwards, what are the chances that enough substances could migrate from it onto the support to cause issues in the future? For example, would enough of acidic adhesives migrate onto the surface of paper to cause it to degrade or accelerate its degradation in the future?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Hi there.  Masking tape is generally a rubber-based adhesive with a crepe paper carrier; the ingredients are often proprietary, depending upon the manufacturer, but usually includes an elastomer (natural or synthetic rubber), a tackifier (makes it sticky), a plasticizer (makes it flexible), and often unidentified fillers.  Typically, as masking tape ages it becomes harder to remove, and masking tape left on art will almost always cause some sort of staining and degradation over time.  So, to answer your question, the amount of risk to the paper in terms of staining depends on how long you leave the masking tape on, as well as other factors such as heat or humidity in the environment - but even if you have the masking tape on the support for a very short time, you risk skinning/tearing the paper during removal and/or leaving a tacky residue.  For that reason, I'm not a fan of using masking tape on a paper support in any capacity.  That comes from my experience trying to remove masking tape which has become highly oxidized - not an easy task.

    Gillian Marcus
    2018-04-11 14:43:29
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Pressure sensitive tapes are near impossible to assess, since they are so often based on trade secrets, rather than patents. All are likely to contain plasticizers, tackifiers, and other additives that will contaminate that to which they are applied, on contact. 800 series 3M tapes, like 850, 888, and 889 are designed to be less problematic and are sold with the terms “preservation” or “conservation” appended to them, but their chemistry will always be open to a question, until the manufacturer specifies exactly is in them. One can make a tape, by applying Lascaux 360 or 498 to a strong carrier like paper ironed on to a heat sealing foil laminate (Marvelseal 360, 3 mil reflective mylar, white) and allowing it to dry, age, for two weeks and then wash off the surfactant that has migrated to the surface, with water. This material can then be cut into strips and used to mask paint areas, with minimal fear of contamination, since the Lascaux products do not have additives and owe their working properties to their co-polymer design.​

    Hugh Phibbs

    2018-04-11 15:48:01

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