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Subject: Soluble nylon

Soluble nylon

From: Sharon Cather <sharon.cather>
Date: Saturday, June 16, 2001
Peter N. Krantz <bkfndrs [at] ozemail__com__au> writes

>We recently acquired a few rolls of soluble nylon, a
>Tyvek/Reemay-looking random weave, but which tears very easily
>between the fingers.  It dissolves in alcohol, and melts under heat.
>It is used as both a resizing agent, and also as a heat-activated
>adhesive. These rolls were acquired from a retired conservator, who
>was active during the nineteen eighties.
>Our question:  Is this substance still considered of suitable
>conservation-standard, as an adhesive and resizing agent?  Might it
>be that, being synthetic in nature, its use as a resizer of paper
>makes it somewhat "invasive", if that is the correct term.  And
>similarly so as an adhesive.

For the conservation of wall paintings--and for many other types of
objects--the previous use soluble nylon presents one of the most
serious problems we encounter. Its widespread uncritical use from
the 1960s forward has resulted in a legacy of genuinely intractable
problems. It is therefore depressing to read in 2001 that
conservators are still prepared to offer anecdotal evidence on its
behaviour. Checking the ICCROM library [readily available online to
everyone free at <URL:> ]
there are 77 reference to soluble nylon. Among these, the most
significant early studies are:

    The case against using soluble nylon in conservation work
    Sease, Catherine
    In: Studies in conservation, 1981

    Infrared studies of the kinetics of insolubilization of soluble
    nylon Bockhoff, Frank J.; Guo, Ker-Min; Richards, George E.;
    Bockhoff, Esther; Brommelle, Norman S. (ed.); Pye, Elizabeth M.
    (ed.); Smith, Perry (ed.); Thomson, Garry (ed.),
    In: Adhesives and consolidants. Preprints of the contributions
    to the IIC Paris congress, 2-8 September 1984, London: IIC, 1984

They demonstrated unequivocally 20 years ago its unsuitability for
use in conservation.

That said, it doesn't sound as though what Herr Krantz has is even
likely to be soluble nylon. Solubility tests on our archival
materials [from the 1960s] show that they are effectively insoluble.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:4
                  Distributed: Tuesday, June 19, 2001
                        Message Id: cdl-15-4-002
Received on Saturday, 16 June, 2001

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