Humidity for Geography volumes

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged – Christmas came and went and life got crazy with a move and some much needed time off! During this time I also have been continuing my volunteering at the Texas State Archives and learning a lot to apply to my work at Southwestern. Today I am applying several things from that learning!

My work with the Geography volumes has been ongoing. This has involved a lot of repair of foldout maps I’ve spoken about in several previous posts. To flaten these maps, I had been spritzing the maps with distilled water. It worked very well and the maps were nice and flat BUT I noticed some tide lines. Tide lines occur when contaminants in the water (and possible residue of dirt or inks etc on the paper itself) are wicked along the fibers of the paper – leaving a wavy line where the water finally evaporates. This is especially likely to happen when putting water directly onto paper. At the State Archives, we have a fabric called GorTex – you may have heard of this when buying a nice raincoat at REI or other outdoor stores. GorTex is a fabric membrane that water in it’s liquid state cannot penetrate it, but vapor can easily move through it. At the State Archives, I use a small strip of GorTex and a damp piece of blotter placed over a small amount of glue I want to soften, and it will humidify that very small area without putting water directly on the paper. GorTex is very expensive – almost $200 a yard! Click here to see it at University Products.

Southwestern doesn’t have any GorTex yet, so I needed to figure out a way to NOT put water directly on these foldouts but make a small humidity chamber about the area I want to flatten. I placed a small Sterilite container over the area to flatten and then left a receptical of distilled water in with it. Since this is my first trial, I am not sure there is enough water inside to do the trick, but I’ll let you know how it works out.
20150410HumidityChamber

2 thoughts on “Humidity for Geography volumes

  1. Would any piece of Gortex do? I’m thinking Goodwill. I guess it shouldn’t be dyed…. If we money left in the preservation account after we digitize the last (yes!) of the Megaphones, we can maybe spring for some! You do such great work, Annie! Kathryn

    • I have asked other conservators if Gortex from an article of clothing would work, and the consistent answer has been that “it’s not the same”. And yes, someone mentioned the problem with dyes on the garment, so it’s probably not the best solution. It would be wonderful if we could swing getting a bit for our lab – we’ll wait and see! 🙂

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