Creases, folds, dents and seagulls

Can you remove creases from contemporary prints?

Something that comes into the studio regularly is modern and contemporary prints that have suffered from creases, bashed corners, dents and handling creases – or what I was taught to call them – seagulls! That annoying, ‘v’ shaped light crease on the paper or in the inked area. These occur due to poor handling, particularly when a print is lifted with one hand and not supported. The print droops under its own weight kinking the paper right where your fingers are holding on to it.

Seagull in the inked area of a print before and after conservation treatment:

Due to the flat smooth finish they really show up, casting a shadow and spoiling the look. Even more annoying is when they are on the edges and you really want to float mount them within a frame and show the whole sheet.

Verso of a print showing a crease before and after conservation treatment:

But, fear not!

Something can be done. With gentle humidification and a press they can disappear almost completely. If they are a little persistent local humidification and pressing with a heated spatula can also help. But if there is any relief on the print or a blind stamp care needs to be taken not to over humidify and press – these really need to be kept.

Crease near the title of a print before and after conservation treatment:

But why do you humidify Emily? Surely that flies in the face of keeping my collection dry?

Well, paper has a memory. If you have something rolled or you have a crease, putting a heavy weight on it will not solve the problem. A little moisture or humidification helps to relax the paper fibres, so they are more willing to stay where you want them to go.

Dent in the paper of this print before and after conservation treatment:

As with any conservation treatment, things can go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing. You need to know what type of print process and paper it is. You need to know how long to humidify and how wet to get the paper.

Annoying crease on the edge of this print before and after conservation treatment:

Sometimes they can’t be removed completely, but most of the time I can reduce them enough that they become unnoticeable – and most importantly – not annoying!

Crease at the corner of this print before and after conservation treatment:

Ta-dah! The finishing touch is getting them framed – showing them in all their glory. And, I can help you with that….

But that can wait for the next post!

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