Paper Prep, Step II – De-Acidifying

IMG_2867I’m experimenting with a new method for de-acidifying the papers I use in my collage.  I love to use images from clothing catalogs for the variety of textures and patterns they provide.  The paper is a nice weight but it’s not exactly manufactured to archival standards. Countering its acidity is important if I want my art to last.

I first tried Archival Mist.  It’s highly recommended and I liked the idea of a non-aerosol pump, although the pump proved somewhat cumbersome for a not-very-strong person like me.  A second problem was that my relatively small (3″-4″) pieces were blown all over the place during application.  Worst, however, was the way the mist just sat on the surface of my clay-coated magazine pages, and it didn’t seem likely to stay on during all the subsequent handling they’d receive.  I think the scrap paper I lined my work surface with absorbed more product than the papers I was trying to protect.

IMG_2870Next I tried a 1:6 mixture of household bleach (chlorine bleach) and water.  It seemed simple enough in theory – counteract the acid with a strong alkali.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.  It raised the pH a little, but not enough to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t make the solution strong enough, or let it soak long enough; I was winging it without directions, and I didn’t want to risk changing the color of the image from the bleach.

Finally I found this simple recipe for a DIY de-acidifying solution:  2400 mg magnesium hydroxide (2 tablespoons liquid milk of magnesia) dissolved in one liter of club soda.  This recipe can be found all over the web, from Ancestry to YouTube.  Conservation OnLine had the most scientific approach, but they’re all basically the same.  I mixed up my solution, I’m letting it sit as recommended, and I can hardly wait to see how it works out.


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