Mold on a 20's Litho

Uncle Eli

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Today has been the day of odd jobs. An old lithograph just came in with some fairly supperficial mold on it. Most of it is in the border which will be covered, but some has creeped into the image. The customer is not totally concerned with removing the mold but moreso retarding it, so it doesn't continue to grow. HELP!!!!!
 

wpfay

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Uncle Eli,
Consult a Paper Conservator...
They have in their possession a tool called a thymol chamber that will kill not only the mold, but the spore of the mold as well. Even this is not 100% effective. The Conservator may also be able to remove any discoloration made by the mold. There is really no safe process you can do to treat the lithograph so don't even try. If it is a genuine lithograph and not an offset the chance are that it can be treated.
The mold will continue to grow and spread as long as the environmental conditions are right, so treatment is important in containing the spread.
Isolate the piece so that the spore doesn't spread throughout your premises. Destroy all mounting and matting materials taken from frame and use a Clorox wipe or some other bleach wipe to get the mold off the rabbet of the frame and the glass. Do this outside if possible so you don't spread mold inside.

If you currently don't have a relationship with a conservator, you can look for one in your area through the AIC web site. (aic.stanford.edu)
 

Rebecca

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Vancouver, B.C., Canada
The problem with thymol is that it can yellow paper. I don't know if this is an immediate reaction, or more long term (probably the latter) as its use was going out of fashion when I started conservation in the mid '80's. Also, thymol will eventually evaporate from the paper so it is not a permanant solution.

Interesting aside - thymol is found in thyme, and also lysterine!

Eli, you can brush the loose mold off with a soft brush, and maybe even clean by gently rubbing (gently is the important thing) with grated art gum eraser. If the client doesn't mind how any residual staining looks, that's great, just leave it alone.

The most important thing is to make sure the piece doesn't return to the same environmental conditions that caused the mold in the first place - high amibient relative humidity or water damage.

Rebecca
 

Uncle Eli

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Thank you both for your help. I'm going to give it a gentle rubbing with a grated art gum eraser, and see how that works. The major differnence that will help my cause, is the fact that it has been uframed, and sitting between to pieces of Acid free board in a dank basement for about 2 yrs, so the lone fact of sealing it up should help alter the environmental aspects of the problem.
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Uncle Eli:
...so the lone fact of sealing it up should help alter the environmental aspects of the problem.
Not necessarily.

If you frame it properly and it goes back into the humid basement where the mold grew, then it will grow again.

A properly closed frame is closed tightly, but not really sealed*. At best, typical framing slows the rate of change within the frame. Eventually, the frame's contents would acclimate to its environment. And if that involves conditions that foster mold, then mold will grow.

*Sealed frames may be constructed by Hugh Phibbs' method of wrapping the frame package in Marvelseal and sealing its edges to the glazing. But that is not practical for many of us, because the frame's hygroscopic materials must be conditioned to a low moisture content just before the seal is created. Most of us do not have any way to measure moisture content. Also, the method is time consuming, and it may give a retail consumer a false sense of security about their "sealed" frame, which is still vulnerable to destructive elements, such as light and handling damage.
 
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