The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 1
Jan 1987

The "Bottle Trick"

A fourth tape removal technique may now be added to the three described by Merrily Smith in the March 1983 Abbey Newsletter (immersion, poultice and suction table). This fourth technique, which facilitates the removal of the carrier rather than the adhesive, uses an inverted bottle or jar to expose the area to the solvents in vapor form, and for this reason has been called the "bottle trick."

It is hard to say who invented the method first. It may be one of those techniques that is used naturally by conservators who understand the principles involved and who do not think of it as something special. Joan London, Christa Gaede and Bob Futernick have been using it for years. Donald Taylor published a short version of it in the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild Newsletter (v.1 #3) two or three years ago. The most detailed and technical description in print seems to be one by Robert Futernick. It appeared in the Book and Paper Group Annual, v.3 (1984) p. 72-73, in an article entitled "Methods and Makeshift":

Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes and Adhesives

Many artifacts with pressure-sensitive tape cannot safely withstand immersion in a solvent bath without adverse effects to media or paper color. When this is the case, an alternate approach is suggested:

The adhesive carrier can sometimes be removed by merely pulling it away, using gentle and even pressure (as suggested by Smith, Jones, Page, and Dirda, Book and Paper Group Annual, 1983). For more difficult cases, blotter or cotton wool is stuffed into a glass jar so that when the jar is inverted, the stuffing remains in position. One or more solvents are added to the absorbent stuffing. The solvent chamber is then inverted onto the reverse of the taped area. After a time (10-30 minutes), the adhesive is soft and swollen, and the carrier may be easily pulled away. With the adhesive in the softer condition, it is usually more susceptible to the action of an eraser or rubber cement pick-up-square. Solvent effectiveness is certainly related to matching solubility parameters. Effectiveness is also a function of time. The vapor chamber allows safe increasing of exposure time, while confining exposure to a localized area. Media is usually not vulnerable to fumes, and tiding does not usually occur. If vacuum table treatment of the adhesive is proposed, pre-treatment with vapor may be an effective softening technique prior to "hosing down the patio."

Reprinted courtesy of the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation. Further republication of this quotation without the expressed written consent of the Editor of the Book and Paper Group Annual is prohibited. Permission to publish this technique does not imply its endorsement by the Book and Paper Group or its parent organization, the American Institute for Conservation.


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