Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Marking


From: Katy Untch <kuntch>
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2000
This was recently posted on the MUSEUM-L list.  I'm curious to hear
of conservator's responses to this.  Our registrars are not pleased
with using brushes to paint on numbers and have been prodding us to
help find another standard method.  We've been experimenting with
suggested brush tipped and soft foam or felt tipped pens, but we're
still working on finding something with an ink or paint medium we
like.  This paper label approach is yet another approach we have not
yet experimented with.  It reminds me of all the brittle brown
deteriorated paper labels on the bottom of objects.   How long,
truly, do we think this method would last?

    We use a polyvinylacetate, vinac b-15, for our
    undercoat/overcoat with an acetone solvent. It is archivally
    sound. We no longer hand write numbers if it can be avoided, and
    on most objects it can be avoided.  We use 100% cotton rag acid
    free paper and a deskjet printer to produce the numbers. This is
    very successful, since legible numbers can be produced as small
    as 4 pt. font size (4 pt. fits on the edge of most coins). We
    have been using this technique since 1994. There is little
    excuse not to adopt this technique by other institutions. Who
    among us has not been frustrated by an object whose number is
    completely illegible? Likewise, who among us is not guilty of
    writing an illegible number on a minute object? Deskjet printers
    can be purchased for less than $100.

    My experiments with copier and laser printer toners have
    produced unacceptable results.  Toner is affixed to paper
    through a heat transfer process. It flakes off and smears (as it
    is dissolved by the solvent). Ink from deskjet printers is
    absorbed into the paper, and the black ink on cotton paper has
    been very stable for us.  We use Hewlett Packard printers. I
    have inquired to Hewlett Packard for details on their black ink
    with little success, except to be reassured that they have
    conducted successful archival and permanency tests. Whatever
    that means.

    I am amazed at the some of the bad advice I've seen concerning
    this topic, particularly with the suggestion of using finger
    nail polish. Are we still in the dark ages? The enthusiasm to
    offer assistance should not overrule the need to supply _good_
    advice. I obtained a five pound sample of vinac b-15 at no cost
    from the manufacturer (Air Products). I still have three pounds
    of it, and have given away at least a pound and a half to other
    institutions in my area who want to pull themselves out of the
    dark ages.  I feel I still have a lifetime supply of the stuff
    too. It comes as itty-bitty beads (homopolymer) that we dissolve
    in acetone to the consistency necessary. I understand that Air
    Products has sold off the homopolymer side of their business. A
    quick look at the Thomas Regional Industrial Directory
    <URL:> should prove fruitful.

    On the other hand I have seen some good advice given too. This
    is encouraging, so, take a deep breath, out with the bad and in
    with the good:-) Please do yourselves and future generations of
    collections managers' a favor by adopting this or a similar

    Terry Vidal
    Collections Manager
    University Museum
    University Of Northern Iowa

Katharine Untch
Conservator of Objects
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
2800 Grove Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221
Fax: 804-340-1618

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:52
                  Distributed: Friday, April 21, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-52-022
Received on Wednesday, 19 April, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]