[Scriptoris] Scroll salvage help offered

Elaine eshc at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 7 15:13:15 PDT 2010

Greetings to Lord Devin and those who are interested in learning  
more. This missive comes from HL Lete Bithespring.

One definition I heard for a professional (of any profession) is that  
(s)he has already made the mistakes and knows how to head them off. I  
prefer letting others make the ones I might and letting them give me  
what to look for to avoid the problem how to get out of it when I  
have one. I don't consider mistakes something stupid, but I think of  
them as part of a learning curve. Students are allowed mistakes....  
Mistakes are part of the student's job.

Here's a simplified version (but lengthy) for discussion:
Inks and paints fall into two categories: those that are dye-based  
(staining) and those that are pigment-based (like ground up rocks).  
Dye-based colors soak into the surface, Pigments sit on top. Your  
waterproof inks probably have some sort of plastic-based carrier like  
acrylic. Waterproof media should be used on work that will be  
frequently handled (especially by people who don't wear the white,  
museum gloves or have had training to handle art work by the very  
edges.).  As a side-bar: non-waterproof inks are the best for getting  
uber-fine lines.

My decades of study and practice have given me the following general  
solution for the inks or paints deciding to take a side trip to where  
I wanted them to amble:
Let the paper thoroughly dry (putting it under tension to make it  
flat again is a whole 'nother discussion). Get a new, virgin xacto  
blade ( my preference: #10, the curved one) so it won't be dulled by  
previous use and possibly snag the paper fibers. Curve the paper over  
a room-temperature beverage can, the damaged side of the work top- 
most. (I actually have graduated to holding the underside with my  
other hand.)

Now, very, very gently scrape the area to make a powder of the paper  
that's scraped away. Don't dig into the paper! Act like you are  
scraping the scales off a butterfly wing without damaging the wing  
itself. That's the kind of pressure to use. Keep changing the  
direction of the scrapes--N, S, E, W.

If you have a line of previous strokes that you want to protect, use  
the blade's point to make a 2 nano-meter incision along the edge that  
you want to protect and scrape up to that point. If you have made the  
incision correctly, none of the fibers the previous work is on will  
be pulled up by the scraping actions.

When you have scraped the surface to your satisfaction, put the work  
on a hard surface and cover with a piece of glassine (the paper you  
get for free at the US post office with your stamps) over the damaged  
area, Burnish the roughed-up fibers flat again with the back of a  
spoon on the glassine to prevent the next inkstroke from wildly  
running along any fibers that stick up.

A wonderful "stuff" I like to dust the area with is sandarac, a  
Middle-Eastern tree sap that is ground up to facepowder consistency.  
I use it at a pre-burnishing time. It is also handy to dust over and  
rub into paper that has a tendency to let ink "bleed" or "feather"  
instead of give you the fine edge or line you seek. It's also good to  
rub onto papers that ignoramuses have rubbed their hands on and  
thereby transferred their body oil onto your expensive paper!  (I use  
it to prepare the area when inscribing in century-old books for  
people.) Note of warning: don't get any sandarac on your fingers and  
rub your eyes---it's like cayenne pepper!

Meanwhile, back to the present--You, Lord Devin, are to be commended  
at your efforts to correct something that happened. Now that you have  
already put paint over the area on this project, you might want to  
scrape any part of the paint that is raised above the other writing  
surface and to burnish it so as to seal the interstices as much as  
possible if you are not using sandarac. Pigment-based media will  
sometimes flake off later if laid on too heavily.

There are also some art-store sprays to be misted on work that will  
seal work areas. Pastel (chalk) artists use the spray to anchor  
different layers so as not to smudge previously applied strokes. If  
you use it, I would suggest the whole sheet's being sprayed so as not  
to have discolored areas appear later when the work ages on someone's  

One more thing...... don't rub your bare, body-oil coated ( and maybe  
nervously sweaty) hand on the surface at any time. Use a cover sheet.  
Tell yourself : "Oil resists ink."

If any of you readers have made it this far, you are a dedicated  
scribe and professionally conscientious enough to be/become a skilled  
artist in the field. Congratulations! Life-long study and  
experimentation is what makes a true artist.

I hope my small would-be tome has helped in some steps toward your goal.


On Sep 6, 2010, at 5:59 PM, David Brown wrote:

> I have created an original scroll and water has been spilled on it.  
> I think I
> heard a collective gasp...
> Now the thing is that none on the paint was damaged, just the  
> calligraphy. I
> thought that the ink I was using was water proof but I guess not. I  
> must go and
> seek out waterproof ink for the next one.
> Anyway. Is there a way to salvage the scroll? I let it dry then  
> used a wet brush
> to re-hydrate it and a cleah paper towel to suck up the ink. That  
> worked well
> but I need to try and cover up the spot. I am using gouache to  
> paint over it but
> I am afraid that even if it is covered up that ink will not totally  
> dry on the
> paint.
> Any help would be great.
> Lord Devin
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