JAIC 1983, Volume 22, Number 2, Article 6 (pp. 98 to 99)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1983, Volume 22, Number 2, Article 6 (pp. 98 to 99)


Leslie Hill

ABSTRACT—A technique using acrylic resin adhesive to reassemble separated components of a plastic and paper silkscreen print is described.

LANDSCAPEIV is a silkscreen printed on a two‐piece plastic collage. It is by Roy Lichtenstein and is dated 1976; it is privately owned. The plastic measures .017 inches thick.

Treatment for smoke damage necessitated its separation from the 4‐ply rag board to which it had been adhered by the artist or printer. The six‐inch band of contact cement along the bottom edge was dried out, making detachment from the mount a simple procedure. The condition of the adhesive, apparently the same for at least three of the ten collages in this edition of 110 sets, indicates that treatment may be necessary on a wider scale. The Fogg's own set shows signs of the adhesive drying out, and in fact partial separation has already occurred on four impressions.

After the smoke residue was washed off the verso of the plastic with water and cleaned from the original mounting board with a vinyl eraser, the next step was to remove the residual adhesive from the verso of the plastic. Ethanol applied with cotton swabs successfully dissolved the adhesive, although the pitted, granular surface of the plastic held much adhesive and required several applications of solvent.

Because the ragboard mount bears Lichtenstein's signature and the edition number on the verso and because it was a 100% rag board in good condition, I decided to readhere the collage to the board, using a reversible, stable adhesive.

Of the adhesives that came to mind: 1, Elvace 1874; 2, wheat starch paste; 3, PVA‐AYAT in toluene—none was satisfactory. Elvace would stick, but it is not reversible. Wheat paste was not tacky enough to assure permanence. AYAT resin in toluene could not be applied without dissolving color out of the plastic. (Acetone also dissolved the pink out of the plastic, even though the plastic itself did not dissolve.)

Combinations of wheat starch paste and Elvace were applied to a piece of plexiglas and allowed to dry to test for reversibility and solubility once dry. All seven mixtures proved unsatisfactory.

Three beads of AYAT resin were dissolved in 40 ml of ethanol over two days, which proved its solubility in ethanol, the only safe solvent for both the plastic and its coloring. A 40% solution of AYAT was made (the viscosity of honey).

I was concerned about how the solvent would evaporate out from behind the plastic if enough adhesive was used, and also about potential ooze. To insure even distribution, I decided to apply a thin layer of the AYAT to the ragboard and to the verso of the plastic six‐inch edge that had been previously adhered, using a Mylar mask to provide a crisp line and eliminate the risk of spillage. I allowed both sides to evaporate and dry for several hours.

A second layer of adhesive was applied to the ragboard side to reactivate the AYAT. The plastic was laid onto it and weighted for a day with approximately 50 pounds pressure. Then the weights were lifted to allow the toluene to evaporate completely from the verso.

The print lies flat with no apparent buckling other than the inherent contortions of the plastic surface.


In the future,I would thin the AYAT from 40% to 10% or less to reactivate the adhesive. A thinner application overall would ensure no distortion and in fact prevent the risk of applying too much adhesive, while the adhering qualities would be more than sufficient.

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Copyright 1983 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works