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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

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  #1  
Old 02-15-2002, 10:34 AM
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Lampy Lampy is offline
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Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Hi all

I've just been asked about removing a photograph that is stuck to glass (they think it is a cibachrome (sp?)). This is something I've done before (different photo type) with some success. I'm not sure if anyone's talked about it on this site so I thought it might be a fun topic to toss around and see what shakes loose.

Who's tried it? What worked? What didn't work? What type of photo was it tried on?
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:40 AM
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The first photo I ever had that was stuck to glass was actually removed before I got it. Small bits of the gelatin image layer remained stuck to the glass and what I did was float them off with a little deionized water. Once off I floated them back on to the image. (I can't remember if I used warm gelatin or paste or nothing for reattachment...it was a long time ago). This worked fine except when gelatin gets wet it expandes so there ended up being a halo of overlapping image around each piece that was reattached.

--Heather
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Old 02-15-2002, 01:05 PM
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Sharon Brunson Sharon Brunson is offline
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After reading the posts in the magnetic album thread, I was wondering if a hair dryer would work?
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Old 02-15-2002, 02:26 PM
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Done a bunch of this!
I have found that just plain water is a good place to start with any photograph that is say 1930 or newer. Depending on what the customer says and what I see, we usually make a copy of the photo before we start the process, just in case we run into something bad.
Soaking in plain water will work pretty well if the print has not been on the glass for a long time. Sometimes we get photos in where they have been on the glass for what appears to be decades or something and those can be a real problem. For those I add photoflo to the water. Photoflo is a thick liquid you add to the final rinse when developing film. It breaks the waters surface tension on the film, and seems to help the water penetrate into the paper emulsion that is stuck to the glass.
One would not want to use a hair dryer on one of these. It seems that getting a print wet, then having it stick to the glass and then dry is about the worst thing that can happen.
These are much easier to do if the prints are still damp when you get them.
Very often I let the print soak for hours and sometimes days. However you really have to watch them so they just don't dissolve on you (remember the copy made before you started?)
Great care, gentle handling and patience are needed. If you really want to tackle something hard, I had a customer bring me a stack of prints about an inch thick, they had gotten wet (really soaked) and so she put them in the oven and baked them dry. We did not do to well with those


Mike
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Old 02-15-2002, 02:26 PM
Jill Jill is offline
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I am interested to hear other ideas on this one! I had a customer bring me her only picture of grandma stuck to the glass....It was discolored in the places that stuck. It was a picture from the 50's...don't know what kind of paper....I just scanned it glass and all. Worked out fine but would love to have a different alternative! Heather or Mike, would that be something you would soak off with deonized water?
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Old 02-15-2002, 03:29 PM
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One quick thing to mention for anyone reading this.... If you suspect that the photograph has any mold damage do not soak it in water to remove from the glass. Gelatin that is mold damage can break down and there will be nothing left of those areas.

I guess the other warning would be to know your print types. The 1930 date is probably a good one. Collodian prints are very suseptible to water and can just wash away when they get wet so these are not good candidates for any waterbases treatment.


I would also agree that photos stuck to glass are one of the
hardest things to deal with that is with the exception of the photos stuck to each other. I've dealt with fire damaged/water damaged photos stuck face to face and there is nothing that can be done. These were gelatins and gelatin to gelatin just becomes one with each other.

I like the photoflo idea. I had been thinking about that but haven't tried it.

Has anyone tried to remove a cibachrome? My thought is that even if the print comes off what will the change in gloss be like (from adhered areas to non-adhered areas)?

Jill when you are thinking of soaking something off I would not only photograph or scan it first but test the water on the print. Use Q-tips and a bit of water. See if it will cause staining, if the emulsion comes off and so on. Test for different lengths of time. Also warn the client that it is possible that the photograph will be completely lost and that is a risk they will have to take. You can also refer them to a photographs conservator who may or maynot be able to get it off without damage.

Oh, I don't think the hairdrier is a good idea.....but has anyone tried cold? I think I read about someone using icecubes on the glass side but that might have been something totally different.

Still looking for more thoughts on the subject!

--Heather
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Old 02-15-2002, 04:07 PM
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Sharon Brunson Sharon Brunson is offline
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Okay, no hairdryer...probably no blow torch either then.

Mike, where do you get photoflo?

Sharon
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Old 02-15-2002, 04:15 PM
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The few I've encountered usually "let go" with soaking, make that CAREFUL soaking.I tried freezing a photo I purposely stuck to glass by sandwiching it between two sheets of glass and leaving it in the sun to cook...results were not great. Lost some of the gelatin layer which refused to let go. I believe there are plasticizers which can be added to the soaking solution to help firm up the image bearing layer but Ferrotyping ( loss of texture of the photo where it stuck to the glass-noticably smooth and out of character) is a problem I have no idea about how to remedy...Heather or Jim? Tom
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Old 02-15-2002, 05:40 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Photoflo should be available at any camera shop that sells darkroom supplies. It used to be (and I presume still is) a Kodak product. One word of caution is to take the dilution instructions very seriously.
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Old 02-15-2002, 05:50 PM
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Sharon Photoflo is found at any store that sells photo darkroom stuff. Buy a little bottle, it goes a long way!!!!

Jill without seeing it, it sounds like something I would have tried to soak off.

Heather testing a corner is always a good idea unless you are really sure of what you have.

Tom I have never done it, but I think one might be able re-ferrotype a print one had soaked off glass. If it will stand the soaking it most likely would stand the ferrotyping. But of course that assumes you have the equipment to do so.



I also have done the the fire and water thing. A house just down the street caught fire, and was going real good when the FD got there. So I ended up with frames that had been burning when the guys hit them with a hose. Had about 75 or 80 frames come in all soaking wet (that was good) and boy did they stink!!!
A good many of the frames contained school pictures of the 4 kids in the family, and mom had put every new one over the top of last years, so some of the frames had 8 or 9 or more photos in them. Took about 3 days of miserable, stinky work, filled 3 garbage cans with half burnt frames and broken glass. The insurance company paid well, almost enough for all the bandaides I needed
Mike
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Old 02-16-2002, 05:55 AM
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Photo-flo

Just a few words about Photo-flo. After you use it, you can put it into a bottle for future use or you can just discard it (it's inexpensive). If you put it into a bottle, make *absolutely sure* the bottle cannot be mistaken as having something for human consumption in it. Bottles for storing photographic chemicals are best. You have probably all heard about the "stinky" darkroom liquids. There is little to no odor to Photo-flo, and unless things have changed recently, it can be discarded down the drain without concern.

If the photo in question is on resin-coated paper (RC paper), the print can simply be hung with a clothespin in a dust free environment for drying. Photo-flo allows the print to dry spot free (the primary reason for it's use). For fiber based prints, the print should be put into a special drying blotter, and not hung like the RC print. Hanging the fiber prints will likely be cause for the print to curl. If I'm wrong on any of this, I'm sure someone will jump in, but I'm pretty sure the information is correct.

Ed
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Old 02-16-2002, 11:36 AM
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Hey Ed

That all sounds about right from what I can remember from my undergraduate and graduate photo courses. It's been five or six years now but I don't think anything's changed.

Thanks for the input.

Only thing I'd add is that if Photoflo is cheap and something that isn't used that often I'd probably chuck it. Fresh chemicals are probably a better choice than old ones. I suppose there is a slight risk of cross contamination as well. I'm thinking of a photo that might have gotten wet and has some mold on it soaked in photoflo then the liquid is saved and reused. There might be a risk there but I'm sure it's minimal.

--Heather
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Old 02-16-2002, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by thomasgeorge
The few I've encountered usually "let go" with soaking, make that CAREFUL soaking.I tried freezing a photo I purposely stuck to glass by sandwiching it between two sheets of glass and leaving it in the sun to cook...results were not great. Lost some of the gelatin layer which refused to let go. I believe there are plasticizers which can be added to the soaking solution to help firm up the image bearing layer but Ferrotyping ( loss of texture of the photo where it stuck to the glass-noticably smooth and out of character) is a problem I have no idea about how to remedy...Heather or Jim? Tom
Tom, the Ferrotyping can usually be corrected by a very light steaming. All of the usual warnings about handling originals apply here of course, but just holding the photo above the steam for a few seconds will usually do the trick. For those of you who use Spottone or similar dyes, this will also allow them to blend instead of sitting on top of RC papers.

Jim Conway
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Old 02-16-2002, 12:54 PM
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Jim, are there any plasticizers or such which can be added to the soaking solution to "firm up" the image bearing layer? Thanks Tom
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Old 02-16-2002, 01:21 PM
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More on glass sticking problems

Not that I know of Tom but now that I'm back here, I'll add a warning on excessive use of Photoflo ... A little bit goes a long way - keep in mind that this utilizes a combination of the same stuff that is used in antifreeze solutions, in hydraulic fluids, and as a solvent so read the label - 1 part of PhotoFlo to 200 parts of water. While it can work as mentioned in a number of these posts, if you assume that more is better, you can easily create your own set of new problems.

The objective (as my old physics teacher put this) is to make water wetter. In the case of Kodak's formulation, the objective is to make the water run off of the film so it dries evenly. I'd consider adding it to the water (in anything higher than Kodak's recommendation) for attempting to remove a print from glass only as a last resort.

On RC's (if the glass was clean), I'd try heat first ...not with a hair dryer but by heating the glass much like you would to release a print from a ferrotype tin ...sometimes even a touch on the spot that is stuck from the base side with a hot knife will do the trick if it melts the polyethylene enough to break the print free. On FB I'd use steam (with a conservators tool that costs nearly as much as a high end computer!)

And a final note. In real life situations, I seldom spend time on it if I can't get it to come free in a minute or two! The odds are that you'll end up with more damage to repair not less and it's usually easier and less time consuming to make a good copy negative.

In another thread I believe Mike or someone here mentioned the old trick of copying under water - many times that is another alternative that will work well in this situation.

Jim Conway
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