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

Curled, cracked photo

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  #1  
Old 09-13-2004, 10:10 PM
ChrisVas ChrisVas is offline
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Curled, cracked photo

Hello,
This is my first posting. This site is wonderful!

I have a photo that was taken in the 1960s. It is black and white and has a big crack more than halfway across and it is curled. I was wondering first how to uncurl it safely without cracking it further or otherwise destroying it. From there I planned on scanning it and starting the restoration. Should the crack also be dealt with somehow before the scanning?

Thanks so much for any advice!

Chris
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Old 09-14-2004, 10:41 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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If it is from the 6o's, it may very well be on a fiber base. If it is, and the print has a glossy finish, then it most likely is curled because it was either not dried correctly or was rolled up then exposed to high humidity for a long period of time. The cure is to soak it in regular water till it un-curls then pat dry the surfaces and dry between blotters, or if you can find one, dry on a print dryer. Being careful that you do not enlarge the crack is of course a must.

There is a chance that the base is not fiber but is a plastic like substance that was becoming popular at that time. My experiance with that is that it does not curl up as tight and sometimes can be flattened by getting it to lay flat under something like a piece of heavy plywood with weights (I use bricks) on top and just leaving it for a week or so. Again take care not to further damage the orginal.

Sometimes you can sandwich them between the plywood and a piece of glass long enough to make a copy. But that means that you will most likely have to copy with a camera. Getting it to lay flat on a scanner can be done if the lid of the scanner is heavy enough to keep it there. I do not like to put bricks on the scanner lid!

And if you would really like to own a print dryer, I just happen to have one that I would sell you

Mike
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Old 09-14-2004, 01:41 PM
ChrisVas ChrisVas is offline
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Hi Mike,
Thanks so much for your advice. I believe that it is a fiber base and it definitely is glossy. The photo is fairly brittle so I'm quite certain that trying to uncurl it dry would not be the way to go anyways.


Chris

Last edited by ChrisVas; 09-14-2004 at 01:44 PM. Reason: did not want to ask question as posted the first time
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Old 09-14-2004, 04:41 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Prints curl because the gelatin contracts more than the paper when it dries out. Uncurling it with no preparation would probably crack the gelatin in a million different places. Even if this wasn't a valuable original, that would just make restoring too hard.

The only way to keep it from cracking is to let it uncurl on its own. It won't volunteer to do this, but if you put it in an extremely humid environment (not wet, humid) it might relax considerably over a few days.
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Old 09-14-2004, 08:59 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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This sounds like a fiber based print to me. I think soaking it in water might possibly cause part of the emulsion to lift where the crack is. A better option might be to use a vaporizer or humidifier in a small room to raise the humidity. Best of luck. If you succeed, let us know what worked for you.

Ed
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:00 PM
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roger_ele roger_ele is offline
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I have heard of applying to the back of the print with a dilute solution of glyceryn and water to even out the differences in humidity between the front and back of the print. Test a corner first because this is just a memory of a comment from a conservator.

Roger
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Old 09-19-2004, 10:17 AM
ChrisVas ChrisVas is offline
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Thank you

Thank you for your suggestions. I will try the humidity trick. I will let you know if it is successful.

Take care,
Chris
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Old 04-01-2005, 09:22 AM
atomicbombshell atomicbombshell is offline
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hello,

I had a problem with vintage prints stuck together. I soaked them in photo flo; they softened enough to come apart (on their own!) and they also flattened out. at that point, I placed a sheet of glass under each print and let the water run off. after evaporation, but still damp, I placed another glass on top, inverted onto a scanner and copied it... then retouched the digital file. It was Good as new!

This technique might be adaptable for you.

good luck,
Robin
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Old 04-01-2005, 10:20 AM
ChrisVas ChrisVas is offline
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Thanks for your suggestion, Robin. It sounds great. I still haven't gotten to that photo so it will be very useful.

Take care,
Chris
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  #10  
Old 04-01-2005, 01:07 PM
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Juliana Ross Juliana Ross is offline
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I agree with Ed about the soaking, the paper fibers may swell where the emulsion is cracked, as well as possibly causing discolouration along the cracked edges.
I'd personally go with the humid room trick.
The thing that makes me cringe about the soaking is that you never really know how the material will react to impurities in the water.
As a word of advice, use distilled water whichever method you choose.
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