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Subject: Papyrus


From: Geoffrey I. Brown <geoffrey.i.brown>
Date: Tuesday, April 26, 1994
In reply to Cheri Vitez's inquiry about papyrus, I have been
experimenting with methods of supporting or mounting papyrus in/on sheer
polyester fabrics such as Stabiltex.  My most recent effort involved a
low-pressure sandwich of Stabiltex stretched on a frame over the papyrus
and a padded backing of stabiltex over polyester batting over acid-free
corrugated board (two layers glued cross-grain).  This worked very well
and was quite attractive.  Experiments with different colors of fabric
revealed that the black stabiltex increases contrast (similar to
glare-reducing computer screens) and makes the papyrus more readable,
while lighter colors that matched the papyrus color tended to make the
writing blurred and muddy-looking.  It is also possible to sandwich
papyrus between two layers of stabiltex mounted taughtly on frames.  The
support is not as good as with a padded backing but the reverse stays as
visible as the front.

The old glass sandwiches are very destructive.  They generally become
high-humidity traps and support continual fungus growth.  Sometimes the
surface of the papyrus adheres to the glass or the glass can "ferrotype"
or planish the surface of the papyrus.  When these mounts are
disassembled, one often finds that the glass has been etched by fungus
enzymes in a pattern matching the papyrus.  Imagine what those enzymes
are doing to the papyrus!

Geoffrey Brown
Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:78
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 27, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-78-001
Received on Tuesday, 26 April, 1994

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