Conservation Treatment of Tracing Paper Survey Results

Amy (Krzeminski) Lubick
National Park Service Post-graduate Paper Conservation Intern

A total of sixty-two surveys were mailed to paper conservators in the United States, Canada and Europe. The conservation literature on tracing paper was used to create the survey mailing list. Thirty-five responses were received as of December 28, 1998. The following results are reported as interpreted by the survey author. If conducted again, the survey would include questions for respondents to differentiate exact types of tracing paper treated (prepared, natural, etc.). The original survey questionnaire may be viewed at the end of this document.

Question 1: Have You Performed Conservation Treatment on Tracing Paper?

Thirty-two conservators had treated tracing paper.

Three had not treated tracing paper.

Question 2: Approximate Number of Tracing Paper Artifacts You Have Treated:


Number of tracing paper artifacts treated

Question 3: Approximate Date(s) of the Tracing Paper?

The earliest tracing paper treated by a respondent dated to the 18th-century. The majority of respondents (21) stated treatment experience encompassed tracing papers from both the 19th and 20th-century. One respondent has exclusively treated 19th-century tracing papers and 10 respondents have dealt exclusively with 20th-century tracing papers

Question 4: What Material(s) and Method(s) Do You Use for Surface Cleaning?

Most respondents listed several different materials or combinations of materials used for surface cleaning.

Grated vinyl eraser crumbs 19
Grated eraser crumbs (types not specified) 3
Whole vinyl erasers 17
Other erasers (including crepe and kneaded). 6
Groom/Stick 2
Absorene (followed by grated vinyl eraser and whole block vinyl cleaning) 1
Eraser/cleaning powders 2
Rubber sponges (Gonzo Smoke-off; AKA Chemie Wi..8  
Brushes 6
Dry swabs/cotton 1
Swabs/cotton dampened with water/solvent or saliva 8
Mechanical cleaning with scalpel 2
Mini-vac/blowers 1
Did not surface clean 2
No answer 1

Question 5: What Method of Humidification Do You Use?

Many respondents listed several different methods of humidification.  
Chamber (two respondents specified use of hot water).. 14
Gore-Tex/Sympatex 13
(one respondent specifically uses Gore-Tex for oiled mid-19th-century tracing paper)  
Gore-Tex/Sympatex combined with ultrasonic mist 1
Ultrasonic mist (overall) 6
Ultrasonic mist (local) 2
Spraying with water 8
Local application of moisture with brush over folds/creases. 7
No answer 2

Question 6: Have You Washed Tracing Paper?


Percentage of respondants who have washed tracing paper

Question 7: When Do You Consider Washing a Treatment Option?

The following comments were made by respondents who have not washed tracing paper:

The following comments were made by respondents who have washed tracing paper:

Question 8: Do You Line Tracing Paper Artifacts?


Percentage of respondants who line tracing paper

Question 9: What Adhesives Are Used for Lining?

Six respondents listed more than one adhesive used, depending on the lining technique employed.

Wheat starch paste 11
Methyl cellulose 4
Wheat starch paste/methyl cellulose mixture. 6
Klucel G 1
Klucel/methyl cellulose mixture 1
Acrylic heat-set 4
Beva 371 (recommended for oiled tracing paper by one respondent) 2

Question 10: What Papers Are Used for Lining Support?

Two respondents listed more than one type of paper used for lining.

Various weight Japanese papers (type not specified) 12
Japanese Kozo (two respondents specified Tengujo and Kizukishi) 4
Machine-made Japanese paper available by the roll (one respondent specified Paper Nao RK-2) 2
Gampi 1
Lens tissue 6
Cerex spunbonded nylon gossamer web (used in conjunction with PVA AYAF applied to lining support only--technique used by T. Jirat-Wasiutynski described JAIC 19 (1980) 1

Question 11: What Lining Technique Is Used?

Several respondents listed more than one type of technique used for lining.

Wet method of pasting out lining paper (three respondents specified the use of various Japanese methods) Tracing paper artifacts were dried by various methods -see question 12 13
Dry paste method (artifact is not humidified prior to lining and lining paper is blotted after pasting to reduce moisture) 2
Remoistenable (one respondent specified use of solvent to reactivate Klucel G on the suction table) 2
Dacron or modified Dacron technique 7
Vacuum suction table 3
Heat (used in conjunction with acrylic heat-set, Beva 371 and PVA AYAF; three respondents specified use of a heated press; one respondent specified use of a heated spatula) 5
Not specified 2

Question 12: When Humidifying, Washing Or Lining Tracing Paper, How Is the Tracing Paper Dried/Flattened?

Several respondents listed more than one technique used for drying and flattening.

No restraint:
Air drying (one respondent proceeds with an additional humidification and flattening technique) 3
Moderate restraint:
Under felts (three respondents subsequently follow this initial drying with additional humidification and direct pressure or tension drying to flatten) 7
Under blotters (one respondent specified use of Japanese paper as interleaving) 2
Between polyester film sheets (air excluded with a smoothing block) 1
Edges restrained (one respondent uses a hair dryer on cockled area) 3
Under glass and weight (eight respondents use blotters; four respondents use felts; three respondents use polyester web; one respondent uses Japanese paper interleaving; one respondent uses Gore-Tex) 12
Karibari or other method of tension/friction drying including Dacron technique. 11  
In a press 4
Vacuum suction table 3
Vacuum hot table (100°F) with felts, blotters and glass sheets 1
Not specified 2

Question 13: What Adhesive(s) Do You Use for Mending?

Several respondents listed more than one adhesive used for mending.

Wheat starch paste 21
Methyl cellulose 7
Wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose mixture 6
Cellulose ethers (type not specified) 2
Klucel G 1
Wheat starch and Elvace 1
Heat set (one respondent specified use of Crompton's tissue) 13
BEVA 371 2
B-72 1
No answer 1

Question 14: at What Strength/Consistency Do You Use the Adhesive(s?

Vegetable adhesives
Very weak/thin 9
Dry 9
Thick 2
Among the other responses for vegetable adhesives were: 50:50 wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose mixture;1:12 wheat starch paste to water; "medium dilution"; "cream"; "smooth"; 1% methyl cellulose; slightly thicker methyl cellulose than 35g/L
Synthetic adhesives:
BEVA 371 (1:3 petroleum spirit 60-80) 1
Standard United States Library of Congress heat-set recipe 2
Depends on paper type/varies 3
Not specified 3

Question 15: What Is Your Method of Mend Application?

Vegetable adhesives:
Apply paste to mending paper, blot or allow moisture to wick out of mending paper and weight (two respondents specified use of desiccated blotters) 15
Apply paste to mending paper, blot, lay down and iron with a heated spatula or tacking iron until dry to touch (one respondent temperature used 78° C) 4
Apply paste or methyl cellulose to tear edges before laying down mend (one respondent uses individual and small groupings of fibers to bridge tear) 2
Synthetic adhesives:
Solvent reactivation of adhesive 2
Tacking iron/heated spatula 3
Not specified 4

Question 16: What Type of Mending Paper Is Used?

Several respondents listed more than one type of paper used for mending.

Japanese paper (type not specified) 16
Japanese Kozo (five respondents specified Tengujo; two respondents specified Usumino one respondent specified Kizukishi; one respondent specified Paper Nao RK-01 and RK-02); 18
Gampi (specified for fills and tear repair) 3
Western papers for fills. 1
Lens tissue 5
Not specified 3

Question 17: Have You Removed Tape From Tracing Paper?


Percentage of respondants who have removed tape from tracing paper

Question 18: Were Solvents Used for Tape Removal Or Adhesive Reduction?


Number of respondants who have used solvents during tape removal from tracing paper

Question 19: Please Specify Solvent(S) and Briefly Explain Method in Which Solvents Were Applied.

acetone 12
ethanol 6
naphtha 5
methyl ethyl ketone 4
hexane 3
toluene 3
tetrahydrofurane 3
methylene chloride 3
xylene 2
methanol 1
dimethylformamide 1
heptane 1
United States Library of Congress prepared solvent solutions 1
not specified 4
Method of solvent application:
Swab 12
Suction table/disk and fritted platen 8
Chamber 5  
Bath 3
Poultices (cotton filter pulp and Fuller's Earth) 3
Scalpel/spatula 2
Gore-tex packs 1

Question 20: Problems Encountered During Treatment of Tracing Papers:

Distortions/Physical Characteristics:

Impregnated Tracing Papers:




Question 21: Helpful Hints for the Treatment of Tracing Paper:

General Hints:

Impregnated tracing papers:










Encapsulate tracing papers mended with heat-set tissue since mends are not very strong.

Survey Form

Please print name:

Conservation Treatment of Tracing Paper Survey


Amy Krzeminski

National Park Service Post-graduate Paper Conservation Intern

*Please use the designated area on the reverse side of this survey for any diagrams you wish to include.

Have you performed conservation treatment on tracing paper? YES NO

If you have not performed conservation treatment on tracing paper, please fold, staple and return the survey.

Approximate number of tracing paper artifacts you have treated: 1-10 11-25

26-50 51 or more

Approximate date(s) of the tracing paper?

What material(s) and method(s) do you use for surface cleaning?

What method of humidification do you use?

Have you washed tracing paper? YES NO

When do you consider washing a treatment option?

Do you line tracing paper artifacts? YES NO

What adhesives are used for lining?

What papers are used for lining supports?

What lining technique is used?

When humidifying, washing or lining tracing paper, how is the tracing paper dried/flattened?

What adhesive(s) do you use for mending?

At what strength/consistency do you use the adhesive(s)?

What is your method of mend application?

What type of mending paper is used?

Have you removed tape from tracing paper? YES NO

Were solvents used for tape removal or adhesive reduction? YES NO

Please specify solvent(s) and briefly explain method in which solvents were applied

Problems encountered during treatment of tracing papers:

Helpful hints for the treatment of tracing papers:

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