Resource - Tutorial :: Acid-Free and Preservation
When my grandfather passed away two years ago, my family was fortunate enough to come across an old notebook of my grandmother Ruth’s while cleaning out his possessions. The notebook was from her time spent in nursing school during the 1930s. I cracked open the cover to find intricate notes of her classes and experiences during her nursing residency – complete with grades from her professors. It amazed me on many different levels – first the medical cases she described, many of which could be fixed today with a common prescription. Second was her handwriting and the detail with which she wrote every single cursive stroke. Grandmother Ruth died long before I was born, but by reading her nursing journal and seeing the care she took to write down the case of every patient, I felt like I was getting to know this woman who had passed away more than 30 years earlier. Tucked away in the back folder of the notebook was an ink blotter encouraging citizens to use an American Express money order to, “Send money to the old country.” Wow! (See images one and two).
I am certain that my Grandmother never thought when she wrote these words in the 1930s that her granddaughter would be reading them some 75 years later. So how do we make this experience possible for our future generations – how can we assure that these scrapbook pages we work so hard on are preserved?
As a refresher for the seasoned scrapbooker and information for the new scrapbooker, here are some easy preservation tips to remember:
1. According to Daniel Burge who wrote an article called the “Science of Scrapbooking” for Scrapbook Retailer magazine, there are three primary deterioration forces to photos: heat, moisture, and pollution. Heat and moisture are pretty self-explanatory – don’t store your photos in the attic, and avoid keeping them near water. The third force, pollution, according to Burge, can come from the air (smog, etc.) but also from some of the scrapbooking supplies we use every day.
2. To avoid these pollutants, make sure you use products that are marked as acid-free and lignin-free. Lignin is a polymer that acts as a bonding agent to hold together wood fibers and can be found in many places – newspapers, leaves and flowers, and even some wood buttons that haven’t been painted or coated (according to an article by Al Thelin and Jeanne English for the Scrapbook Preservation Society). For alternatives to these lignin products, see the digital guide below.
3. To avoid the question of whether something is acid-free or not, you can purchase a pH testing kit at most craft stores. If an element has a pH level of seven or higher, it is considered safe to use on your scrapbooking pages.
4. Be careful of the type of ink you use when stamping. Make sure that the ink is pigment-based and not dye-based.
5. Also make sure you choose your writing instruments carefully. Some of the suggestions Peter Ouyang made February/March 2003 issue of Scrapbook Retailer on picking the perfect pen include:
6. Don’t forget to make sure your page protectors are acid-free as well!
Acid-Free and Lignin-Free Situations
What’s a scrapbooker to do when you want to include a newspaper clipping of your son’s first hockey goal or a wedding announcement?
Love the look of masking tape but afraid to use it on your pages?
Love the distressed look but afraid to do that to your actual photos?
By scanning in old photos, it also gives you the capability to repair damaged photos, or convert colored photos to black and white. With digital photo editing, the possibilities are endless! (See image five).
Want to include a floral element on your page but are afraid to use actual flowers or greenery that might contain lignin?
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