Using Methyl-Cellulose to Clean (UCF Special Collections)

So today I decided to take some pictures of the work Whitney and I are doing this week. Being new to conservation I was unaware of Methyl-cellulose’s ability to clean gunk from old bindings…. It works quite well I must say.

One of my personal books I decided to test on.

I know, I know, this is definitely an awesome book. Very tempting alas I must do a little damage to it! So the cover paper isn’t attached to the board at all and the spine is held together with, yup you are seeing it correctly, MASKING TAPE! Well, I guess it is better than duct tape, but not by much.

Tape, the bane of my existence...

So the first step we took was to remove the masking tape and add the methyl-cellulose to the spine to clean it. We used the Talas directions of 1 quart water to 5 tablespoons of methyl-cellulose mix.

Painting on the poultice! Please excuse the lack of make-up 🙂

So now we wait about 10 minutes and then remove  the goop from the spine.

Here comes the netting that was stuck.

After 10 minutes it was surprisingly easy to remove the netting and old crusty glue that was left behind.

Removing old glue and Methyl-Cellulose with a spatula.

Thank you Whitney for modeling 🙂 (It is very difficult to clean books and take pictures at the same time. We ended up repeating the adding and scrapping of the mix until the spine was a clean as we thought it could get.

As a cleaning agent I give Methyl-cellulose an A for cleaning! My only caution would be to be careful when removing the poultice. I did notice that with our micro-spatulas the signatures seemed to tear at the stitches due to the dampness. But other than that. I was great and we shall be using it again.

I would love to hear some of your questions/comments/retorts/etc. I would love to read them so leave a comment!

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