27 May 2005

More on Photo Removal

Chloe has posted a comment a little further down, about some of the photo-removal tips I offered. To quote:

Ummm, I have to tell you I work for a range of small museums, so have been trained a fair bit by conservators, who would probably have fits (except maybe the dental floss stuff) about some of your suggestions. :( The way we were taught was similar to the splitting - then we sat there with a very sharp scalpel and just very, very, very carefully cut the backs off. It was always find a mechanical method, never, ever a chemical method, as that could do even more harm. And never, ever to apply heat, as it would hasten the breakdown of photos.

But your alum sounds very special. :)
Now, on the whole I agree with what Chloe is saying but I would also say that most people who do scrapbooking at doing it for enjoyment and as a hobby and don't have the time or resources to treat their photos at the same level as a professional conservator would.

Don't get me wrong, I'm an historian by training and I've worked in libraries as well. I strongly discourage people not to do anything to heritage photos ie those that there are no other copies of or negatives. I cringe when the cropping tools come out near these photos. But I believe that on the whole, it's better to get these photos out of the horrible self-adhesive albums than to leave them there.

Personally, I wouldn't use Un-do on heritage photos, but a small amount of soft heat, from behind, just enough to loosen the glue is something I can live with. Ultimately, it's up to each person to make that judgement call.

BTW, check out Chloes' site, it has some great embroidered aprons and other goodies on it.