Restoration of artwork on paper

Galatea guarantees a professional approach in the restoration of artwork on paper: etchings, engravings, litho’s, maps, pastels, draxings, aquarels, letters and books. A few examples below:.

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The decay of paper

There are many reasons for the decay of paper. Most common are acid and water.Oxidation, fotochemical degradation, biological factors, neglect and injudicious treatment play an important role.

1. Acid.

Water and acid can effect paper. It can become brittle and even fall apart. Acid enters the paper through the environment or was already present in the paper itself, during production. Paper made out of woodpulp became quite commonplace since the second half of the 19th century. It contains lignine whicheventually contaminates the paper. Historically, paper was made of cotton fibres and therefore of a much superior quality. Only external factors such as how we use or abuse.. degrades this kind of paper.

2. Oxidation.

Oxygen can cause oxidation. Oxidation is amplified by light, metal and lignine. This can lead to breaking the cellulosechain which results in yellowing and acidification.

3. Photo-chemical degradation.

UV radiation is absorbed by paper en IR radiation is transformed into heat which can lead to speeding up the acidification.

4. Water.

Condensation can be the result of moving paper from a cold to a warm environment. The watermolecules will enforce themselves between the cellulosechain and make the paper swell. Often damage occurs when a frame is hung on a (cold) outside wall. As a consequence,the microclimat which will ensue, and the moisture present, will result in the presents of mould and bacteria.

5. Biological factors.

Micro- organisms love to live in water mainly because of the presence of sugars. Enzymes attack the paper. The mycelleum of the fungae is invisible, reproduces quickly and forms new fungal colonies.

6. Insects.

Insects can damage stacks of paper and collections. Silverfish, dust lice, book worm, flys and museum beetle can cause sever damage.

7. Human error.

Negligence, moist cellars, hot attics, fire damage and deliberate damage.
Injudicious treatment plays an important role. Artwork on paper is seldom framed the correct way. Most framers concentrate on the aesthetic aspect and neglect the inside. The use of acidified cardboard, full bonding, tapes and other harmful materials can cause severe damage in the long run.

Restoration of paper: solving the problem

There are off course solutions to return an artwork to its original splendour. Removing acid and fungus.Tears can be restored, stains, moist stains etc...

1. De-acidifying and killing the mould.

We can deacidify, by chemical means, thereby creating a buffer to prevent further acidification. Killing the mould is done before any restoration.

2. Repairing tears.

Mechanical overload can lead to tears, usually in brittle paper. Glass can cause tears. These tears can be repaired, sometimes even invisiblely


Paper with stains looses its splendour because the focus goes to the stains. Coffee, ink, fingerprints; any kind of stain can cause ugly points of focus. We can reduce or even dissolve this problem through chemical and mechanical means.

4. Replacing missing pieces.

Missing pieces can be replaced by joining new fibres.

5. Bleaching.

Brown and or yellow spots, complete browning of the paper, little pieces of iron that cause discolouring, foodstains etc. can make the paper completely illegable (foxing). We solve this problem by chemical means.

6. Strengthening.

Paper can become very weak because of different circumstances: hot sunlight, moisture, etc. We can solve this problem by doubling the paper.

7. Removing damaging additions.

We can remove any residue from tapes, acid, glue, etc.

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