Testing Tek-Wipe

Tek-Wipe is a new treatment material that has been much discussed by conservators during the annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation and beyond. TekWipe is a reusable substitute for the blotter paper typically used in washing treatments. Conservators have used Tek-Wipe to dramatically reduce stains and tidelines in paper, as recently discussed in an Iowa State University Library blog.

TSLAC Conservation was curious whether the detailed methodology of the ISU blog could be successfully repeated. In February, one sheet of a Confederate muster roll exhibited unusually pervasive staining and tidelines. A Tek-Wipe washing component was added to our ongoing muster roll treatment procedures in order to observe its effect on the staining.

Muster roll sheet before treatment.

Muster roll sheet before treatment.

The treatment began typically for our muster roll project. The item was humidified and sprayed with a 50/50 water/ethanol mixture due to iron gall ink corrosion. It was then placed in two successive 10-minute water baths, the second one conditioned to pH 8.5 with calcium hydroxide. The treatment procedure was then adjusted to incorporate Tek-Wipe. The item was sandwiched between damp blotter, Tek-Wipe, and spun polyester for two hours, as detailed in the ISU blog. After the first hour, the pre-existing silk lining was removed from the document. The item was then dried in open air and with blotters. Japanese tissue fills and mends were applied with wheat starch paste, and the item was stored in an archival plastic sleeve.

Muster roll sheet after washing with TekWipe and water baths.

Muster roll sheet after washing with TekWipe and water baths.

This after-washing photograph shows that the Tek-Wipe treatment had a negligible impact on stains and tidelines. Why might this be? Many of the stains in this collection are oil-based and ink-based, rather than water-based as seen in the ISU methodology. It’s possible, then, that stains of this nature remain unaffected by water-based TekWipe washing. Further testing might identify a different solvent that has a greater impact than water. Such solvents would require careful testing to ensure media stability.

Until more formal, repeatable studies occur, informal observations like these can add to the conservation field’s growing knowledge of Tek-Wipe treatment procedures. With further testing, documentation, and information sharing, methodologies can evolve to meet treatment needs.

2 thoughts on “Testing Tek-Wipe

  1. Great post, Sarah. That is some serious staining on the muster roll you treated, and I think your assessment about ink or oil based stains versus the water-based tidelines in my treatment is probably spot-on.

    I agree (obviously) that informal sharing via blog posts can be an important way to compare notes until more controlled studies can be published. Do I understand correctly that you used TEK wipe and spun polyester in the same sandwich? I’m thinking I should go back and re-read my own post for clarity now, because I put the disbound folios in my treatment directly against the TEK wipe in the blotter sandwich, with no spun polyester in between. After this “active” blotter sandwich sat for 2-4 hours (with occasional misting), I then removed the TEK wipe, replaced it with spun polyester, and swapped out the damp blotter for fresh, dry blotter to dry the items. I don’t know that this would have made any difference to your treatment’s outcome, however, given the different types of stains with which we were dealing.

  2. Thanks for your reply, Melissa – and for your post! Correct, I left the item between spun polyester support sheets during the Tek-Wipe washing because it was very brittle and fragile, especially following the previous bath. I hadn’t anticipated that the spun polyester would significantly impact the Tek-Wipe washing, but that would definitely be another element to vary during a subsequent test.

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