Conservation Blog

By: Sherif Afifi | July 05, 2019

Mending torn or cut photographs
Figure 1 Torn photographs These photographs are from Sherif Afifi's family collection - All rights reserved

By: Sherif Afifi | April 24, 2019

label that was adhered over an original leather book spine.
label that was adhered over an original leather book spine.

This video tutorial demonstrates how to effectively remove a label that was adhered over an original leather book spine. The shelf label was glued over a nineteenth-century split book spine. Animal glue was used on this label (label is now historical evidence of this book). A conservation decision was made to remove the label in order to restore the book. Moisture is required to remove the paper label, however special care must be given to ensure the leather does not get wet. Careful attention to not over moisturizing can avert the following issues: hydrolysis, distortion, discoloration and hardening of leather.

Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) 4% is applied over paper label. In order to moisturize the paper label and react with the animal glu...

By: Sherif Afifi | May 15, 2018

Tears or sharp cuts are physical deterioration aspects of photographic materials. This video tutorial focus on mending tears and cuts in paper-based photographs prints

Watch how I mend photograph's tears

By: Sherif Afifi | January 15, 2018

For rare books restoration and conservation purpose; in many cases, spine lining, and animal glue should be removed (cleaned off) completely, in order to restore and conserve the sewing or the spine.
Several techniques are used for loosening and clean off old glue from spines.
Be careful when you clean off the animal glue from the book spine. Watch this video tutorial, demonstrate one of the most applied practice.

  In this video methylcellulose solution with a concentration of 4% has been used (Viscosity: 2000 cPs at 2% in water, pH 7.0.)
Watch the video:

By: Sherif Afifi | November 13, 2017

Parchment is the skin of an animal which has been processed with a lime solution and stretched under tension. Parchment has unique structural qualities which differentiate it from paper, and it is usually positively identified with the assistance of a hand lens or microscope.In some cases, analytical testing should be considered due to the fact of some certain types of highly calendered papers misidentified with parchment during the visual examination process.

Parchment which is most commonly used as a writing surface and as a binding material in some cases; has a cultural and historical significance that makes it precious material that needs to be conserved and protected against future deterioration by specialized conservators.

Using magnetic as a parchment conservation tool 
Profissional conservators usually take the responsibility of developing innovative treatment methods. Parchment flattening magnetic table is one of the innovations that conservators developed and work with. In the next few lines, I will explain how this flattening magnetic table works and it's mechanism.

Disclaimer: Parchment is a very sensitive material, never ever try to deal with historical parchment materials unless you are well trained to do so, or under a supervision of a professional conservator.

Flattening magnetic table parts:

  1. Wooden frame table.
  2. Metal flat surface.
  3. Magnetic presses.

- Note that the Parchment or vellum is humidified in either one of the common safe humidification methods before applying flattening.

Wooden frame
 The metal (stainless steel) flat surface is mounted on a wooden frame table and the stainless steel surface is with holes or pens to allow a good ventilation to the parchment during the flattening process. Remember using Reemay® acid-free archival polyester tissue under the parchment (between the parchment and the stainless steel) during flattening process.

This picture (Fig 3) shows what is inside the magnetic press and its mechanism. the screw handle controls the magnetic pad level through the metal coil compression string. Hence, this is how conservator controls the strength of magnetic pressure on the parchment, and to eas the process of removing and adding those magnetic presses on the metal table.
Figure 3 - Inside the magnetic press

Wach this video which explains more how this magnetic flattening technique works

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Sherif Afifi
Sorry English is not my first language but sharing experience is a global language