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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Archivality of polymer-covered acidic paperApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-06-17 12:13:24 ... Most recent comment 2018-06-29 06:56:07
    Sizes and Adhesives Other Industrial and Non-Traditional Products Art Conservation Topics

    Would building up layers of texture or mass using things like toilet paper or tissue papers or newspapers covered in acrylic medium or PVA glue be a bad idea from a conservation perspective? The only thing that I managed to find online is that polymer-encasing won't stop paper degradation itself, but I'm wondering if such degradation would be detrimental to the entirety of a work (presuming we only use the paper for structural purposes and don't care if it gets brittle or yellows itself).

    Would it be better to soak the paper and shred it before mixing with a polymer and plaster to make a cellulose clay-like substance?

    I tried searching for information about conservation issues with papier mache related to acidity, but couldn't find anything.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Hi there...actually if you enter "newspaper" into our search field a couple of interesting threads come up....I suggest reading this one first and let us know if you have any additional questions after doing so.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-06-17 13:30:29
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Hello. I took a look at the suggested thread, but it seems like it's mostly about keeping acidic paper fairly intact. What I would like to know is, will the inevitable deterioration of the paper hurt the acrylic/PVA within which it is encased? Would the polymer layer crack or yellow? Would brittle materials like gypsum be affected more?

    2018-06-18 18:35:18
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Hi -

    At least for any acrylics you should be fine as the degree of acidity is simply not that aggressive in terms of attacking or causing structural degradation of the acrylic polymers, which are physically extremely durable. The main issues are the ones you have already mentioned - the continued yellowing and embrittlement of the underlying paper. Lastly, keep in mind that while the acrylics will provide a physical barrier and coating, they are still porous and moisture can certainly travel through to the layers below. I did try to look up direct conservation literature that might address this more directly and there were some on the conservation of paper mache masks and sculptures that seemed to suggest that the painted layers were unaffected and that most issues were more structurally connected to the paper mache itself. For one example, see:

    This was particularly interesting as the paper mache was coated with a clear acrylic layer after completion and when the pH was tested it still had a neutral rating of 7.0-7.2. Of course every piece is different but it did lend some support for the durability of the acrylic when used on top of inherently acidic paper stock. One might also want to look at cases where acrylics were used in conjunction with collage materials or for that matter, even the use of acrylic gesso on top of cardboard or paperboard.

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2018-06-19 10:01:48
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Thanks for the answer. Would thin cotton or polyester rags be better than paper? I remember reading that cotton tends to age better.

    2018-06-19 13:14:08
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​The answer would be inherently yes - just as cotton paper is better than paper made from wood pulp. But instead of cotton rags, you could use simply 100% cotton drawing / printmaking paper. If cost is an issue, perhaps a local drawinf class or printmaking studio would be a source of used paper that could be torn into strips and reused?

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2018-06-19 14:28:03
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    I think that the cheapest option I can get would be a roll of disposable cotton wipes. As far as I know, they're just pieces of thin, pure cotton cloth. Would those work?​

    2018-06-19 20:44:50
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Sorry for the late response - just seeing this now. If the cotton wipes truly are just cotton, they should be fine - certainly better than newspaper. Give them a try.

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2018-06-29 06:56:07

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