archival methods - what do you expect from the small press? (1 Viewer)


lothario speedwagon
recently at chance press, we ran into some trouble with one of the materials we use to make books... not to be that guy, but here is a link to our blog where i go into detail about it, as well as our attempts to formulate something resembling a policy for moving forward. since making everything 100% archival is impossible, i'm curious to hear from other collectors and publishers how much you research archival materials, and what your expectations are when you buy a small press book.
All of my bookboard is acid free, as is all of my bookcloth and the adhesives that I use. The cover paper that I use for my DJ's and what I cover my boards on my hardcovers is usually Canson Mi-Teintes, which is acid free. The inside papers are another issue. I use Cougar Opaque as my everyday choice for digital printing. Although they do not mark it as acid free, it tests as neutral/alkaline with my pH pen. On letterpress printing, I almost always use better paper, which is almost always acid free.

It is funny. I collect 1960's mimeo chapbooks. Many of those are holding together OK after 40 years and a SHITLOAD of acid in that paper. The pages have browned, but otherwise, they have done pretty well.

The problem that you experienced with the browning seems like it is more than acid. Acidic paper or adhesive takes should take much longer to react with the paper. They may have had a whole other problem that caused it to darken the paper.

It is hard to trust what is advertised as "acid Free/Archival Safe, as you know. It is an easy thing to say. Also, the pH pen may not be the best judge either as some materials could change over time, I think.

If only we had a scientist of two on the board that could help.....

i did a comparison for my own edification looking at the costs of various adhesive films:
xyron (discounted via amazon): around 205 square inches per dollar
gudy: around 165 square inches per dollar
beva 371 film: around 65 square inches per dollar

so... applying that to a run of 26 hardcovers, we're looking at probably $10 more in adhesive to replace xyron with gudy, and around $85 more to use Beva 371 film (not to mention many more hours, since Beva 371 is heat transfer). that's not that much in the grand scheme - and i wouldn't mind using the best stuff all of the time, but it depends, based on how difficult it is for us to work with the heat transfer film versus a pressure-sensitive adhesive.
<booknerd speak>

Are you talking about Gudy O or Gudy V?

Gudy O is $28.15 a roll from Talas. The problem for me is the size of the roll. The rolls are 3/4", 12", 24", 36". 3/4" is out, as are the larger ones. The 12" is the only one that is close to what I use, which is xyron 9". Since most of my books are 8.5" tall, the 9" width is nearly perfect. Of course, I could stick the books sideways, and then the 12" would be better (5.5" book x 2 = 11").

I get my xyron for about $24 a roll (9" x 40'), 30sqft = $.80 sqft

Gudy O is 28.15 a roll (12" x 33'), 33sqft = $.85 sqft

Gudy V seems to be much tougher stuff, but is also substantially more expensive.

If you try out the Gudy O and like it, let me know. I would buy it 10 rolls at a time, and the price drops another 10%...

And you are right, they market xyron as acid free/archival safe, but the Chinese are not below cutting corners. Shit, they put melamine in baby formula. It would not be nearly as big a leap for them to stop making their adhesives acid free...

I also use PVA a LOT (I buy the shit by the gallon), but, as you mentioned, there are places where it is better to use a dry adhesive.


</booknerd speak>
Does someone have a translation program I can download for </booknerd speak>?

Honestly, I find it interesting to hear about the complications of printing, no, really.
I'll download the instructions and letterpress print them for you. I'll make sure to print them on acid free paper!
I don't publish that much, but when I do, I use acid free papers, acid free boards, and PVA adhesive. In the 70s and 80s, I used whatever was at hand, and some of those chapbooks now have browning issues. My worse mistake was using rubber cement on some books to stick labels on covers. The labels not only now have brown stains (but not all copies -- just some, and that after 30 plus years), but some labels have also come loose. When I find that, I just reglue them with PVA. I also use acid free glue sticks for small book repairs.
i was referring to gudy O - i just bought a roll of the 3/4" and the 12" to try out, since i haven't used it before (both are showing in stock for me). gudy V sounds interesting, since it uses a carrrier between the two layers, but it sounds like you don't need it unless you're working with really chunky fabric or an irregular surface. if it came in a tape-sized width (like the 3/4" gudy O, i would use it).

i'm imagining that if this thread goes on, there will be quite a bit of booknerd speak, so strap in, gerard!
This is why everyone should go visit Bill Roberts in Delaware, and make some books with him. I've only been twice and, despite being an absolute novice, I still get about 60%+ of what these guys are talking about. I've said it before and I'll say it again--the artsy folks around here are a bunch of beautiful monsters!
As someone who deep down inside wants everything to last forever in perfect condition, but who has accepted the concept of atrophy and decay, I can only speculate that most people don't really care how long things last. I'm quite sure that your books - even if they were made with generic CVS double sided cellophane tape - will likely outlive all of us. And most people don't care what happens after they're dead. Oh sure, they say they do, but they don't. Well it doesn't matter anyway, does it?

But really, I don't think anyone who buys a book for $12 or some other relatively small amount of money should have any expectation that it will survive intact for 600 or 6 million years. $1200 is a different story. But honestly, I think you may be sweating the inexpensive titles a bit too much. But I understand the desire to create something great and not just something typical.

On an aesthetic note, I'm glad my 46 year old copy of Cold Dogs In The Courtyard looks like it's 46 years old. If it was too white it would look a little weird. It's supposed to be a little yellow. It's from 1965 fer chrissake. I'm one of those nuts that think things should look their age, and actually look better when they show their age (see: guitars and furniture).

So now I've given a bunch of different contradictory opinions that you can safely ignore from one convenient location.
I'm one of those nuts that think things should look their age, and actually look better when they show their age

wow, i could go in so many directions with this. do i make a gray hair joke? a house in the suburbs joke? a hatchback joke?
If you didn't drive the same hatchback you probably could go that route. But you do, so...

And the gray streaks are nothing short of awesome as my hair gets longer.

mjp lives in the suburbs?

I have gray hair and a hatchback, but at least I don't live in the suburbs!

and one day jordan, you too will have gray hair, and..... oh, wait. never mind. no reason.
Bitches! I live in the corner of Alhambra, about 10 feet from El Sereno, which is Northeast LA. Of course I also live about 10 feet from South Pasadena which is very much not Northeast LA. But that's what makes Los Angeles the world's greatest city. The fact that I live here. No, wait, the fact that it's awesome.

Hurder is just doing what the kids call projecting. It pains him that I am a leisurely 10 minute drive on surface streets from Phillipe's downtown while he lives in the Northern California (ew!) suburbs, eats vegan food (whatever that is) has gray hair and drives a hatchback and I'm here just effortlessly 100% PURE PUNK ROCK WINNING!

Don't get all fuck-a-bush with me you philistines, I don't want to have to hurt you.

wow, i could go in so many directions with this. do i make a gray hair joke? a house in the suburbs joke? a hatchback joke?

...or old man yelling at kids on his lawn joke?

Jeez, the only part I would argue with is when mjp said nobody really cares what happens after they're dead. I think I do. I'm that OCD. But he's right that $12 shouldn't guarantee archival quality, and it's okay if old things look their age. Leaning further in that same direction, I like it when my old books are starting to fall apart. I enjoy fixing them if I'm able, or just living with the disrepair.
keepin it nerdy in 2k11
update - heptane is a good adhesive solvent. after reading as much as possible about it, and (more importantly) testing it a bunch, i decided to use it to strip all the tape off of our carol books. i will post a blog with pictures, but it is very strange stuff - it leaves a huge oily stain that somehow disappears in 12 hours or so. my worries that 10 or 20 years from now it will turn yellow were somewhat quelled by reading that this stuff is frequently used by conservators to remove adhesives from very old documents. (it is sold commercially as un-du or bestine.) it is good on paper, since unlike many solvents, it doesn't cause any change to the actual physical structure of the paper (so no warping or buckling) - and it evaporates quickly, similar to lighter fluid, but even moreso. if you're a real geek, you can have a look at the teas chart, which categorizes solvents according to three forces. i'm not smart enough to understand all of it, but the advice was to start with the lowest polarity solvent (heptane is the lowest) and work your way up (to toluene, xylene, naptha, acetone, etc) until you get one that is strong enough. the one problem with it is that the vapors are noxious - not as bad as toluene, but still noticeable. i was working with it for a couple hours tonight while wearing a 3M mask approved for "nuisance levels" of harmful vapors, and i'm still dizzy and have a sore throat... looks like i either need a full respirator or a good fan in front of the window to go with my mask.

as far as adhesives to replace the evil red tape: gudy rocks! it is better than xyron, in this nerd's opinion. the adhesive itself (no carrier, just substrate like xyron) has much more elasticity than xyron, which means that it holds together better and doesn't leave little adhesive bits all over the place. (this was may main complaint with xyron). if you accidentally touch the adhesive side, you can usually pull your finger off without taking a bunch of adhesive with it, and if you do get it on your hands, it balls up more easily, so you can get rid of it. if some of it gets where you don't want it, a crepe rubber eraser picks it right up. the release paper is much higher quality, which means it releases evenly all of the time, with about 1/3 the burnishing required to get xyron to release evenly (without pulling bits of adhesive back up with it). i have been using the 3/4" roll as well, since it's around 1/2 the cost of 3M preservation tape.

for places where we want to use an true archival adhesive, beva 371 film is awesome, although heat setting it is a pain. we bought a $20 tacking iron from amazon and it does the job. to re-glue all the inserts in the carol books, i'm using beva gel, which is a super-thick paste (again with noxious vapors). a little bit goes a loooooooooong way, and it doesn't cause paper to warp the way PVA does. it dries really fast, which i like, and it's easy to work with. you can dilute it in water or alcohol if it's too thick for you, but that's pretty much why i like using it. beva gel is actually acidic, but the manufacturer told me (and by manufacturer, i mean the guy who manufactures it in new jersey, not a rep for some chinese company) that undisolved acrylic resins in the gel cause it to register as acidic, but as soon as it dries, it is completely neutral. (plus, i have confidence in a company called 'conservators products company' that basically makes two products - this and the unbelievably toxic beva 371 formula.)

it just occurred to me that this should have just been an email to bill, not a post on the forum. well, sorry.

I think that last post there from Jordan caused noxious vapors to smolder amongst the core of this forum. I'm getting a head rush now! Thanks Jordan. Woooooo!
I just got my first order of Gudy O from Talas and you are 100% right. It looks like a higher quality Xyron, but I certainly trust the company that makes it more than an anonymous Chinese company that makes it for Xyron. I will probably pick up 10 rolls with my next Talas order...

Ideally, it would come in 9" rolls, not 12" rolls. Either I'll get used to it and make it work, or get some very fine tooth saw blade for my mitre saw and saw it off at 8.5", leaving a 4.5" piece to use for smaller projects....

did some more work on carol's books tonight - after around 90 minutes, the fumes really start to get to me (and tonight i had a window open with a fan in front of it, blowing the air out the window.

here's what i looked like when i started:

and here i am after an hour or so:
I just checked my zyron to see if the wily Chinese pulled a fast one and stopped making it acid free. I hit it with my pen. It showed yellow, which means acidic. I was about to call xyron and threaten to sue them when I decided to hit it again. Now it is purple, although the places that I hit before are still yellow. To be fair, I tried the same experiment with Gudy O and it is showing as purple (acid free) from the start. The paper is showing as acid free.

So, I have a chemistry question. Is it possible that the xyron is slightly acidic and that as it cures to the paper, it is neutralized? Is it possible that the paper is alkaline and that it is actually changing the slightly acidic xyron neutral? It seems that if the paper is neutral, then it should not change the acidity of the adhesive. That being said, the pH pen only has two readings; acid or neutral/alkaline, so I cannot tell if the paper and adhesive are neutral or alkaline. Would an alkaline paper or adhesive (if there is even such a thing) be non-archival? Can something be acid free, but alkaline and still be stable and considered archival?

I have only done the Abbey pH Pen, so my methods may not be strictly scientific.

Still, in the end, it makes me MUCH more comfortable4 buying from Neschen than from Xyron given that their mail target user are scrapbookers who probably don't care all that much about archival/acid free. Plus, the idea that the Chinese could change the formula (or already have) scares the bujeebus outta me.

Has anyone tested this stuff? Any scientists know of a better way to test this than by using a pH pen?

well, from my conversation with mr. chludzinski (the manufacturer of beva), i learned that adhesive can be acidic when it is suspended and then neutralize as it dries. but, this wouldn't really apply to pressure-sensitive adhesives, since they're never supposed to dry out. the concern among conservators is that acidity is but one harmful aspect of dealing with pressure sensitive adhesive. the chemicals required to make it, even if they are not acidic in the least, may still be harmful to paper over the long term. gudy is no exception to this, but again, it's probably pretty safe, since it has passed the PAT (which is a good indicator of how volatile the chemicals in it are).

i don't know a better way to test xyron, but you could isolate how much the carrier paper affects it by testing the carrier paper separately, and then adhering it to newsprint, mi-teintes, and paper treated with acidic or basic substances to see how much the reading varies. you could also try to pile a bunch of layers of it on top of each other, so that there is a pretty thick layer of just the adhesive, so you're isolating how much the acidity of the underlying paper affects the reading.
I'm impressed -- book nerd-dom has reached new heights when the talk gets deep into chemistry. That heptane sounds nasty, Jordan. I wouldn't use that too often if you want a long career. There was an artist in the 1960s or 70s (I forget her name) who died after years of experimenting with mixing various new kinds of paints and being exposed to toxic chemicals in the process. She literally died for her art.
That Gudy is unforgiving. It does not lay down as thin as Xyron. Because of that, it is nearly impossible to use on thinner papers as it really telegraphs through the paper. Even using Canson Mi-Teintes 98lb paper, it is tricky. It would work well with very heavyweight paper, but it is not perfect. The problem seems to be the ends. You almost have to adhere the sheet, bray the shit out of it, then trim it down a bit. If you don't, it seems to run on the end causing the adhesive to "booger" or roll. This can be seen from the other side.
ahh, i will have to try that. my first (and only) experience using it was with handmade paper, and so i appreciated that it was thicker than xyron. i'll have to try it on some thinner papers to see if i'm able to use it.

one note - i have noticed how you get a slight layer of it hanging off the end - i have had good luck just laying it down this way and picking up the excess with a crepe square, rather than rolling the edge back onto the inside. if the paper is really delicate, like tissue or something, the crepe square would probably damage the tissue. but on most paper, i'm not sure this would be an issue.

also - if you're using really super thin or delicate paper, you should try the 1ml beva 371 film. you need a tacking iron, but this stuff is pretty cool. so thin you can't even tell it is there. and david - i hope to use heptane as rarely as possible, since it is meant to correct mistakes that i hope never to make again!
I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I appreciate any efforts you guys make to avoid leaving boogers, adhesive or otherwise, on your work.
I've noticed a few stray boogers on books where dry adhesives were used. Often they pick up dirt and turn into stubborn spots that are hard to remove. Others stay clean and are less visible but make the surface sticky. It doesn't bothered me, but it might be a problem for a fussy collector type. That seems a downside of dry adhesives.

[I just wanted to repeat the word "boogers" in a post.]

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