Poster preservation

Written by: Bexx Caswell-Olson

Primary Source: Wallace Conservation Lab, July 11, 2016

Posters, posters, and more posters!

A recent donation of several hundred movie posters (not all are shown above) recently invaded the conservation lab. The posters had been rolled for storage, and while a few unrolled easily, those printed on heavyweight paper didn’t want to be flat.

I knew that trying to humidify and flatten each poster individually would drive me to the brink of insanity (and take a long, long time), so I did some research and found a great article by Stephanie Watkins in the Book and Paper Annual, entitled Practical Considerations for Humidifying and Flattening Paper.

Following the description in the article, I covered our drying rack in plastic sheeting and hooked up our ultrasonic humidifier in the back.  This pumped in cool, moist air.  I placed a thermometer/hygrometer inside the improvised chamber to monitor the temperature and humidity.

Once the posters were nice and relaxed, I removed them from the chamber, and placed them between hollytex and blotter to dry.

Using this method, I was able to humidify and flatten dozens of posters in only a few days – and kept my sanity!

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Bexx Caswell-Olson
Before migrating to Michigan and beginning work at the MSU Libraries Wallace Conservation Lab, Bexx Caswell-Olson was employed as a bookbinder and book conservator in private practice in Iowa City, IA. Prior to running her own business, Bexx spent nearly a decade living in the Boston area where she worked in a variety of libraries and conservation labs, including those at Harvard and MIT. She is Vice President of the Guild of Book Workers, a national organization for those working in bookbinding, book conservation, and the book arts. Bexx holds a Certificate in Bookbinding from the North Bennet Street School and a Master’s of Library Science from Simmons College. In addition to her passion for bookbinding, Bexx also has an affinity for typography, bibliomysteries, seed bead weaving, and vegan baking.