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Re: [BKARTS] alum and paste

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At 07:01 PM 3/10/04 EST, you wrote:
>Hi Richard... I understand your frustration with paste going off so quickly.
>However, it is not a good idea to add a preservative to your paste; all have
>real or potentially deleterious effects on the work. Alum will not only lower
>the pH of your paste but also produce a more brittle film even with buffering.
>Thymol has been shown to alter the color of some papers and pigments as it off

While what you say is correct, the tiny quantity of Thymol needed to preserve a pint of paste (about 5-10 crystals) wouldn't off gas much. I must say that I have never had any complaints about discoloration either but I tend to use very stable cover materials and either white or black endpapers.

>I am assuming that you are working with cooked starch paste and so I'd like
>to suggest a few alternatives to a preservative. First of course is to make
>smaller batches more often; I realize that this may not be a useful solution for
>those of us who work an irregular schedule in our shops. Have you ever made
>your paste in a microwave? It is very fast and difficult to get wrong.

There are many traditional binders who would argue that since the slowest made paste is often the best that a microwave brings an unmeasurable variable into the mix which should be avoided.

> I make
>mine on a laboratory stirrer hotplate, you can pick them up cheap on eBay. And
>then there is the rice cooker; it will make your paste while you sleep.

And probably overcook it since you only want to heat it for 3-5 minutes or you start to break it down too much to adhere well.

>is the precooked instant paste; very expensive for large batches made often but
>quite reasonable for shorter work periods and small batches.

I have always found the instant paste to be excellent although it is not as smooth nor as adhesive as the "real thing". I suspect the freeze dry process used to prepare it does the same thing as microwaves.

>It is so difficult trying to insure that we use the best materials and
>methods in our work that it strikes me as a false economy to scrimp on something so
>important and basic as a good fresh paste. After all, the best is barely good

I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment, James. It really only takes about 10-15 minutes to make up a batch every few days and the paste is by far superior.


David Allen
Beddall Bookbinding Conservation & Restoration
840 Snowdrop Avenue
Victoria, British Columbia
(250) 888-9380

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